The Magic of Monaco

 


Here's a question for you. If you, yes you, had the chance to compile the Formula 1 calendar for a season - would you select Monaco as one of the twenty or so events of the year? If you were to look at it sensibly, you'd probably say no. Outgrown, outdated and out of place. But since when has F1 been sensible? Logic often gets thrown out of the window, and on this weekend of all weekends, I'm so glad it has been yet again.

Time to throw some buzzwords out there. The glitz, the glamour, the history. They all make Monaco, well...Monaco. Memories are created. Legends are made. Winning here is special, because here is so special.

In a sport which to some would appear to be forever edging away from its roots, the Monaco's of this world are a reminder, a throwback, of what this fascinatingly peculiar sport has been through.

Yes, it may not be as challenging as it once was, but it still has the feeling as 'the one'. The imposing barriers, the unforgiving bumps and the overriding thought that you're always just one brief second away from possible disaster. Feeding your way through the quirky, twisty streets of an 'odd' Mediterranean town remains one of the great challenges on the calendar. Would you really want another Abu Dhabi car park or Korean wasteland clogging up the schedule?

It's a race rich in history. Senna, Prost, Villeneuve, Schumacher, Hill, Moss, Lauda, Fangio. Not just a list of the sports greats, but a list of those who tackled the streets and conquered. It remains the constant, the barometer to judge the best against the best. It doesn't matter which era or which car - you win here, you are special.

I've recently finished reading the fantastic Gilles Villeneuve: The Life of the Legendary Racing Driver in which you quickly discover how the idol for so many was created. Aggressive, attacking, sideways precession. Somehow he made it possible where almost anyone else to grace those streets before or after came seldom close to replicating. You create these stand out moments by presenting the best drivers in the world with the best challenges in the world.

We all have our magical moments from these streets - mine being the madness that was Olivier Panis' 1996 home victory. Sometimes it's not the most exciting or action packed, granted. But the same could be said of many other supermarket car parks we find on the calendar today.

We often bemoan a lack of overtaking, or fall the other way and kick up a fuss about the 'fake' overtakes created by artificial aides. Surely we want overtaking to remain a challenge. Requiring unrelenting concentration, skill and craft. Monte Carlo, with its multi-million pound backdrop, provides in some ways the perfect platform.

Watch any classic races on Sky, clips on YouTube, cinema releases or TV documentaries from any era and you can only be impressed at the way the drivers always have and always will attack the 2.1 miles of sunbathed, champagne soaked streets of the principality.

You could never design such a layout for modern racing, but that's what makes it special. We've outgrown it, but we keep on coming back year after year. You could argue that much needs to change in Formula 1 at the moment, but I for one hope that Monaco is not one of those things.


Paul Godley 23/05/2015

Image source (and all image rights): Monte Carlo - Wikipedia

Video source (and all rights):FiA Formula One YouTube channel. Gilles Villeneuve book written by Gerald Donaldson, available from Amazon.

Top Drivers

 
Driver Points
Hamilton 252
Rosberg 211
Vettel 203
Raikkonen 107
Bottas 101
Massa 97
 

Connect

 

 #MsportXtra Sharing the latest news, views and a little extra from the world of motorsport."

 "To see more pictures like the one above, visit my online F1 art collection by clicking here!"