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Monaco magic endures through the ages

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Jonathan Legard | 12:54 UK time, Thursday, 13 May 2010

Vitaly Petrov is making an increasingly impressive entry into Formula 1 with Renault this year but Russia's first grand prix driver sounded startlingly out of step with his surroundings this weekend.

"Driving at Monaco means nothing to me", said F1's top rookie after 2010's opening races.

What about the history and the tradition of one of the most famous races in the world?

"I don't feel anything about the history," he said.

I have to admit his answers left me lost for words. I have never come across anybody - driver, engineer, mechanic, journalist or fan - who was so dismissive and so detached about racing on the most renowned street circuit on the globe.

The Monaco Grand Prix was the first race which grabbed my attention and switched me on to F1. It was the one track, above all others, that I wanted to visit.

I remember being shocked by the prices but overwhelmed by the setting, the layout and the atmosphere, which never fail to inspire a return ticket.

Vitaly Petrov driving at Monaco during the first practice sessionVitaly Petrov is focused on racing and has no time for the many distractions Monaco has to offer

Squeezed in between the jagged hills which rise so sharply and the harbour full of multi-million pound yachts on a shimmering Mediterranean sea, there appears barely enough space to park a car, never mind race 24 of them.

Yet part of the beauty of Monaco is how close to the action spectators can find themselves.

At some parts of the track, such as the sea-front chicane at the exit of the tunnel, you actually could reach out and touch the cars as they navigate the kerbs before blasting away towards Tabac corner and the spectacular Swimming Pool complex.

Rubens Barrichello has been both a racer and a resident here over the last two decades and he smiles when he recalls his first impressions of this most unlikely sporting location.

"I arrived in Monaco and was puzzled. I had to ask: 'Where's the track? I can't see it," the Brazilian said.

"I couldn't believe it when I was told I was standing on it. It looked so narrow. I thought: 'How could you ever go flat out round here?'"

"I took the whole of my first practice session to build up the confidence and the speed to do it."

Few would argue with the words of Barrichello's fellow Brazilian, Nelson Piquet, who memorably likened racing in Monaco "to riding a bicycle around your living room".

The tightest and shortest circuit on the calendar, it's the ultimate driving test around a layout which has hardly altered from the first race in 1929 - a world away from architect Hermann Tilke's new designs like Bahrain, Shanghai or that deluded Monaco wannabe, Valencia.

Consider the roll of past winners and you understand why Monaco is regarded as the premier driver's circuit.

Ayrton Senna's won six times, Michael Schumacher and Graham Hill five times, Alain Prost four times, with those knights of the road, Stirling Moss and Jackie Stewart, both three-time winners and Juan Manuel Fangio twice.

Without their rarefied mix of concentration, confidence, consistency, courage and crucially talent, charging between the barriers at speeds of up to 170 mph can become an exercise in damage limitation.

The slightest deviation caused by one of the many bumps or markings on what are public roads for the rest of the year can wreck a car in an instant. And in a wet race, when a driver's skill is even more critical, the white lines are like marble.

"To be so close to the wall at such a speed, to have the flow of the track is extra special", said Schumacher this week.

"When you have big run-off areas, it allows this extra per cent in safety. Here, if you want to nail it, there is no margin for any little error whatsoever."

Drivers frequently say it becomes almost mesmerising to complete a lap in less than 80 seconds over a race distance of 78 laps, blinkered and hemmed in by steel barriers throughout.

Nobody who was here in 1988 will ever forget Ayrton Senna's extraordinary qualifying lap, almost one and a half seconds quicker than his McLaren team-mate, Prost.

"Suddenly it frightened me because I realised I was beyond my conscious understanding," Senna explained afterwards.

His crash into the barriers the next day when comfortably leading only added to the mystique of Monaco. The greatest battle for drivers in sight of the chequered flag can be with themselves, maintaining the pace and precision to complete a successful afternoon.

Senna's spellbinding duel with Nigel Mansell in 1992 (see highlights video below) also highlighted the elevated role of the driver and the importance of track position here.

Mansell's Williams was by some margin the fastest car but Senna's McLaren held him resolutely at bay over the final laps after the Englishman had to make an enforced pit stop. The Briton's last chance to win in Monaco had gone.

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Jenson Button will tell you that nothing compares to qualifying here.

"It's a crazy circuit to drive but when you really hook up a good lap, it means more to you than anything else in Formula 1," he said.

With overtaking so limited, grid position is all, hence the drivers' concerns over back-markers in the first part of Saturday's session. Too far off the front row means too little chance of victory.

Races here can be processional but imagine yourself in the cockpit, and you can't fail to marvel at the driving skill on show.

Show. There's a word that's absolutely key to a Monaco weekend. Why else do Hollywood stars from the Cannes film festival, billionaire captains of industry, international footballers and top-selling musicians find themselves drawn to this principality?

Monaco is a place to be seen and a place to do deals as much as place to go racing.

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has admitted: "They give us more than we give them."

Other longstanding venues such as Silverstone and Spa have been threatened with losing their places at F1's top table.

But Monaco continues to revel as the sport's jewel in the crown and shows no sign of losing of its sparkle.

What finer place to celebrate this day, the 13 May, the 60th anniversary of the F1 world championship?

Comments

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  • 1. At 2:43pm on 13 May 2010, Jamie De Freitas wrote:

    Great blog as usual!!

    It really is fantastic. I'm thinking Alonso/Red Bull for Pole on saturday?

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  • 2. At 3:20pm on 13 May 2010, tom wrote:

    Great blog, looking forward to the race. F1's top rookie has an odd attitude to the "drivers circuit". Maybe he will have a new appreciation after the race.

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  • 3. At 3:56pm on 13 May 2010, 30_Gilles27 wrote:

    I'll be honest, I'm not a great fan of this race, it simply turns into a procession unless the weather decides to get involved. To be fair Petrov's not the first driver to take a dislike to the place. I remember that Raikkonen once said that his most boring races were at Monaco because he frequently became trapped behind slower drivers with no way through. For guy in that situation to say that he's bored, for me says more about the place as a race than any of the history that comes attached with it. On being "the jewel in the crown" I think it was F1 magazine that conducted a poll a few years ago and asked fans basically for their favourite circuit, I think the actual question was along the lines of "the loss of which circuit from the calendar would be the most likely to cause you to stop following F1". Spa was first followed by Monza with Monaco forth.

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  • 4. At 4:26pm on 13 May 2010, Alex Burke wrote:

    Although I am sure it is great fun to drive (i enjoyed it on Gran Turismo 3 anyway) and yes it has the history and all that. Sorry but I just don't see what the big appeal is of the Monaco race, Usually it is a boring procession of cars with absolutely no chance of overtaking whatsoever. And now there is no refuelling ie light cars v heavy cars I sense it will be even worse this year.

    What am I saying it will fit in perfectly with this season wont it....
    Lets pray for rain.

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  • 5. At 4:29pm on 13 May 2010, gibson1972 wrote:

    I love watching F1 but I have to admit I am not a fan of Monaco.

    The only reason of this is that overtaking is practically impossible and basically if you get to Pole Position, that is half the job done. Would love to be proved wrong but wished they made the track wider so overtaking could happen. Wish it more like the Canadian or British Grand Prix where overtaking can happen. If Lewis or Jenson qualify outside the top ten, that is their race over so all they can do is effectively test new car set-ups for future races.

    Sorry for upsetting people but that is my view!

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  • 6. At 4:47pm on 13 May 2010, cordas wrote:

    I am not sure what the fuss is, it sounds to me that maybe he is just looking at the race as... you know... a race... I bet that Renault would far rather he does that then get caught up and distracted by all the glitz and glamour, it might be interesting to hear what his comments are post race (whether he does well or not).

    I noticed in free practice that Massa once again has all the fiddly bits back on his front wing... I was half puzzled to see if they would scrub it clean seeing as he was half a second a lap quicker (according to Rob Smedley) at Barcelona without them. Any chance you or one of the others could do a bit of digging into this and give us a story about it over the weekend. I am wondering if maybe the car ran faster in clean air with the gubbins, but quicker in dirty without them...

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  • 7. At 5:05pm on 13 May 2010, BMC_boy wrote:

    It's strange that Petrov feels no connection to Monaco's history or location; this does afterall represent a home race for Renault. I'd have thought that if it means nothing today, they should probably explain that it does by the time tomorrow is here!
    Good blog.

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  • 8. At 5:25pm on 13 May 2010, United Dreamer wrote:

    ""I don't feel anything about the history," he said.

    I have to admit his answers left me lost for words.
    "

    Well done Petrov.

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  • 9. At 5:34pm on 13 May 2010, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    Spa is the more beautiful track in my opinion.

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  • 10. At 5:54pm on 13 May 2010, cordas wrote:

    @8 LMAO, now if only Petrov can somehow join Brundle on commentary.

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  • 11. At 6:13pm on 13 May 2010, stygis wrote:

    90% (made up, but probably around the right #) of fans will never go to monaco to experience the atmosphere, all they get to see is an incredibly boring procession. This track should be removed from the calendar asap along with Barcelona and any other track that fails to deliver.
    'spellbinding duel' . . . my grandma could probably keep Mansell at bay around that track, all the 'duel' highlighted was the unsuitability of that course for F1. I'll probably watch the first few laps till everyone settles down and then do something a little less tedious, shouldn't be hard to find ;p

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  • 12. At 6:24pm on 13 May 2010, cordas wrote:

    Its better than Valencia...

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  • 13. At 7:21pm on 13 May 2010, dom taylor f1 wrote:

    Excellent blog Jonathon-your best yet.

    Can't wait for Sunday afternoon!

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  • 14. At 7:48pm on 13 May 2010, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    "Other longstanding venues such as Silverstone and Spa have been threatened with losing their places at F1's top table."

    How about losing Magny Cours and a race in France! The country that brought us Grand Prix after all! Petrov maybe has it right, the bottom line is soem of the most powerful figures in F1 don't give a hoot about its history.

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  • 15. At 7:53pm on 13 May 2010, TheBBCFan wrote:

    If we take a look back at some of the most memorable races in recent years then how many of them have been at Monaco? If you ask me there are some great tracks for Formula 1 such as Interlagos, Monza, Silverstone and Spa. These races are always great to watch with the speed that the drivers are going at. Monaco, although a rather pretty place is quite boring to watch as the only real overtaking is done in the pit lane. If we can see a duel between two drivers overtaking on the race track that will be something! But is this proper racing? It is about not making mistakes like bashing into the barriers. Great drivers like Raikkonen thrive on attacking and overtaking others. It is not as bad as the night race in Valencia but it is not the best track in the World by any means.

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  • 16. At 7:54pm on 13 May 2010, thelimpliberal wrote:

    "I have to admit his answers left me lost for words. I have never come across anybody - driver, engineer, mechanic, journalist or fan - who was so dismissive and so detached about racing on the most renowned street circuit on the globe."

    There's a simple answer to that, the same reason as to why I'm not too bothered about having to work on sunday and miss the race, because its often a very boring race that just becomes a procession after the first few corners of lap 1.

    It may be a great circuit to drive on, Petrov's opinon may well eb very different come Sunday evening, and I certainly won't argue that it looks fantastic and that the F1 calendar wouldn't be the same without it, but the racing all too often isn't that good as a spectator sport. Its not a circuit that allows or encourages overtaking and at a time when that in its-self is becoming a major issue, it could lead to a very dull race, unless the weather intervenes.

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  • 17. At 7:57pm on 13 May 2010, MiahF1 wrote:

    Great to see the old highlights of the 1992 GP. It was a great race with legends of the sport. Hamilton or Alonso pole this Saturday I think....

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  • 18. At 9:51pm on 13 May 2010, Deep-heat wrote:

    Not really surprised at the response on this blog and would be very interested to hear Jonathan Legard's response to it.

    The bottom line is that 99% of the people who talk about the 'mystique', 'magic' and 'romance' of this circuit are simply those who are priveliged enough (i.e. very rich or entitled through work) to have actually been there. The truth is that, because grid position is everything on this circuit, the qualifying is actually more exciting than the race . Tell me how that is right.

    It is generally a dull procession, even more so than the other dull processions we see every year these days. It is essentially like flicking through a copy of 'Hello!' magazine with the odd fast car going past.

    Ultimately, F1 depends on the millions of fans across the Globe who ensure that advertising revenues remain high. I accept that Monaco needs to be retained as a kind of prestige procession to advertise the 'sport' and give a few glossy photos etc, but lets not pretend that it is anything more than that these days. As a spectacle, F1 seems to be becoming more dull year on year - the fact that those on the circuit seem to celebrate this race more than any other speaks volumes about how detached they are from your average fan. The responses on this blog serve pretty much the same purpose.

    Would welcome a response from the blog author.

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  • 19. At 9:53pm on 13 May 2010, Charlie Bing wrote:

    I was at Monaco in 1968, just after Jim Clark was killed: I hitch-hiked in from Menton and bought what was called a "circulaire" ticket which didn't get you a seat anywhere, but let you walk all over the place to find somewhere to stand. I definitely know I watched a lot of the race looking up the hill toward the tunnel as the cars came down toward the chicane... and I think I remember looking down over Ste Devote (and almost being able to touch the cars). Graham Hill won in a Lotus - it seemed in Clark's honour - and there weren't very many cars running at the end. Would love to get back one year...

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  • 20. At 10:21pm on 13 May 2010, me wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 21. At 10:57pm on 13 May 2010, BrewerHorse wrote:

    I have to agree with what others have said here. Monaco is a great setting thats no doubt, but in essence it just seems to be a rich mans party. Most real F1 fans are just stuck watching a boring race on their television. It may be a great track to drive, and a great track to spectate (aslong as you're privelidged enough to be a millionaire or there abouts) but for ordinary people its only special because we've been told it is.

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  • 22. At 11:03pm on 13 May 2010, aylwin wrote:

    All these complaints about boring processional races at Monaco really miss the point. F1 is much more than just racing: it's about glamour, wealth, success, beauty, hedonism, excess. To watch the world's most beautiful cars set in the most beautiful scenery amidst the most beautiful people, that is the point. And the sound. What other circuit gives such electricity from the onboard shots as this one?

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  • 23. At 09:25am on 14 May 2010, cordas wrote:

    @22 - I have to agree with you, I just wish there a spot or 2 where overtaking was possible.

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  • 24. At 09:35am on 14 May 2010, alanyeti wrote:

    A tedious procession surrounded by media-fuelled hype and 'celebrity'. Surely a prerequisite for a 'race' is the opportunity for overtaking ?

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  • 25. At 09:49am on 14 May 2010, trismus wrote:

    I remember being shocked by the prices but overwhelmed by the setting, the layout and the atmosphere, which never fail to inspire a return ticket.


    Just about sums it up!
    Great quali', rubbish race, I'll be watching the grass grow or the paint drying.

    Trismus

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  • 26. At 10:09am on 14 May 2010, matt wrote:

    My god. What a lot of whiners!!

    This is Monaco. Its been like this for eighty-one years. If you want made-to-measure tracks in the desert with mile-wide straights for overtaking go to Tilke. For that matter, go for US single seaters with stock chassis and lame aero. Go for obligatory NASCAR style 'safety car' appearances five laps from the end; go for football league 'playoffs' to build fake tension where season-long results are already clear and to claw more cash from fans; go for racing round casino car parks.

    In fact, don't bother with cars. Watch MotoGP. All the overtaking you seem to need.

    What you lot don't seem to get is that F1 has never been about any of this. It is dull, processional, uninspiring as sport. You have just watched too many highlights on YouTube. That is not why it fascinates people. If you really need all that you seem to be demanding, I have a suggestion;

    watch golf.

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  • 27. At 10:43am on 14 May 2010, ajrduff wrote:

    I'm surprised at some of the comments on here, particularly the misconception that racing and overtaking are one and the same. Monaco is first and foremost a supreme test of skill and endurance, created by a uniquely challenging circuit layout and near-total lack of runoff. It's an insane place to race an F1 car, and therein lies the appeal. If you think that 24 cars running nose to tail at up to 180mph within inches of unyielding Armco is boring, you're clearly watching the wrong sport.

    Overtaking is not impossible at Monaco. It's extremely difficult, but it does happen. In fact, because of the lower speeds and reduced dependence on aerodynamics, the cars are able to run closer together here than at many circuits. Great recent Monaco GPs? 2004 and 2008, for a start.

    Perhaps it's the confined, rarefied nature of the setting and circuit, but I'm always more aware of the F1 saga beneath the spectacle at Monaco - the huge, complex, multilayered story of the combined efforts of hundreds of people which underpins every corner of every lap for every car.

    To those who believe the Monaco GP to be exclusively the preserve of the rich - not so. You don't need a yacht - you can simply buy a ticket and go. It's not cheap, but it's attainable. I was there in 2004 for Jarno Trulli's magnificent win, and count that weekend as one of the best of my life to date. Nowhere gets you closer to the action as a spectator. If you only ever go to one GP, go to Monaco.

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  • 28. At 10:45am on 14 May 2010, BennyHillario wrote:

    "Vitaly Petrov is making an increasingly impressive entry into Formula 1..."
    What are you talking about!?
    He's been absolutely whipped by his teammate Kubica.

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  • 29. At 10:52am on 14 May 2010, MustangMick wrote:

    All this talk of Monaco being expensive.....rubbish!!!!

    We went there last year, stayed in Nice, lovely 3 star Hotel beside the train station.
    Took train on race day to Monaco (30mins, approx 15 euro return) which brings you right to the circuit.
    Z1 section at Tabac was 120 euro for Race Day. This year it was 100-110 euro.
    Have a good breakfast in your hotel, plenty of stalls and bars in Monaco serving food....prices just the same as home.
    Had a lovely 3 course meal after the race in a restaurant up beside the Presidential palace.....15 euro each.

    We priced a long weekend both for Monaco and Silverstone flying from Dublin. Monaco worked out at almost HALF the price of Silverstone.

    Cheers
    Mick

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  • 30. At 11:19am on 14 May 2010, AndyRAC wrote:

    At least F1 has kept hold of it's most famous event. Unlike the idiots who run the WRC - who decided to drop Monte Carlo!!

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  • 31. At 11:20am on 14 May 2010, Shumi7 wrote:

    #26, is that you Mr Ecclestone?

    I personally agree with a lot of the comments that this is the one race of the season I have absolutely no desire to watch. If you think about it, the entire experience of watching this on TV is quite uncomfortable, you can barely see the actual cars as they zoom past one barrier after another

    Hats off to Petrov for not "falling in line" and mimicking every other driver in gushing over this place

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  • 32. At 11:51am on 14 May 2010, 30_Gilles27 wrote:

    @22 I completely understand that F1 is about glamour, excess, etc. however most fans could not care less about that part of it except those who read Heat or OK. I personally am interested in opposing side of the glamour: the engineering, the driver skill and the race tactic elements , and I'm willing to bet that many more people feel the same way. I feel the whole show of Monaco was destroyed as a race when Brundle asked Naomi Campbell who she wanted to win the race and the reply she gave was "England". This just goes to prove that the "show" surrounding Monaco and F1 itself have completely drifted apart, they don't go for the sport they go to be seen.

    @26 I do watch Moto GP, I also watch the 125cc, Moto 2, BSB, WSB, BTCC, WTCC and GP2. I will also be trying to find a way to watch the Nurburgring 24H and the Le Mans 24H. My problem is not with F1 as a sport it is with street circuits. With more open tracks at least there is a small chance of being able to pass somewhere but the enclosed nature of them removes this possibility. I have been watching the sport for 14 years and I am well aware that overtaking has never been easy, I watch it for reasons I have outlined above, but the simple fact is that Monaco makes it impossible. Singapore and Valencia are just as bad to be fair but they all have the same thing in common.

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  • 33. At 11:52am on 14 May 2010, Azurboy wrote:

    I totally agree with MustangMick above. All the above is a load of old twaddle. I live nearly and am certainly NOT a millionaire! I love to go when I have time and no work and think its one of the most spectacular events in the sporting calendar. On the ROC you can buy a ticket for 70euro!

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  • 34. At 12:01pm on 14 May 2010, Mr T wrote:

    How predictably depressing. The usual attention deficit disorder that seems to be intent on ruining all sport raises its head in response to your article.

    Motor racing and in particular F1 is not all about overtaking. All these "it's all about pole" kind of miss the point. You can't just demand to be put on pole position. The risk / reward of trying to get pole is magnified on these streets like nowhere else. Additionally trying to keep an F1 car out of the barriers for 2 hours isn't a small feat.

    Monaco should never be changed. Certainly not at the whim of fans or drivers demanding a more "attractive" sport. In fact the sport may be better off it it lost them.

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  • 35. At 12:02pm on 14 May 2010, Phil wrote:

    @27 Round of applause...

    Completely agree, having never been to Monaco though, it is the one place I would love to see the F1 cars fly around the track. It is the most intriguing race for me on the calender, especially as the racing line on the home straight runs next too the pit lane exit and round the first corner!

    Alonso for pole...? Will he dare to take his hands off the wheel to use the Ferrari "F-Duct"...

    Hamilton or Vettel on pole for me, both young and dumb/brave enough to leave a Bridgestone logo on the railings!

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  • 36. At 12:19pm on 14 May 2010, CNW0429 wrote:

    "14. At 7:48pm on 13 May 2010, Hookers_armpit wrote:
    "Other longstanding venues such as Silverstone and Spa have been threatened with losing their places at F1's top table."

    How about losing Magny Cours and a race in France! The country that brought us Grand Prix after all! Petrov maybe has it right, the bottom line is soem of the most powerful figures in F1 don't give a hoot about its history."

    Monaco is different to different to Magny Cours though. Its history only goes back to 1990, it's pretty soulless, stuck in the middle of the French countryside, it was about the 7th or 8th different venue to host the French Grand Prix, and by the time it left the calendar French interest in the sport was dropping somewhat.

    Monaco's race has been around 80 years, using virtually the same layout. Perhaps for the average F1 fan it isn't quite a sspecial as it used to be, in recent yars it hasn't thrown up quite as many classics as in the past. Races can be processional, but at Monaco it only takes 1 accident or breakdown in an awkward place to bring out a safety car and change the complexion of the race, a la 2004. So I will still be watching intently for all 78 laps, I think it'll be a cracker.

    With regards to other classic venues, Ecclestone's issues with them seem to have facility-related more than anything. Imola was a victim of new venues coming in because it was essentially a second Italian race (Adding Valencia instead is 1 of Ecclestones biggest errors), but apart from that Spa, Suzuka Silverstone and Monza have all stay on or returned to the calendar after upgrades and investment. Canada's return is also good news on this front.

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  • 37. At 12:27pm on 14 May 2010, CNW0429 wrote:

    Oh and 1 more thing that makes Monaco special-the crazy races which produce one-off winners, namely Panis and Trulli (there might be more). It just shows Monaco can be something of a leveller as well amplifying the best drivers' talents ; it catches out the best of the best. The man who succeeds is the man who plays it perfectly on the day is the man who wins in Monaco, not necessarily the best overall. Jim Clark never won an F1 race at Monaco but you wouldn't say he's a bad driver would you?

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  • 38. At 12:32pm on 14 May 2010, Swerve1 wrote:

    Monaco is a strange one for me, though i've never actually been.

    When i was younger, i used to find it pretty dull.

    Nowadays though, it is a different story. With all the onboard camera footage available nowadays i find it hypnotic to watch any driver threading their way through the streets and you really appreciate how skillful they are. Also, most of us now have large LCD TV's and the Track looks stunning.

    It also has the best qualifying session of the year, more so this year on low fuel, so it really is winner takes all.

    I also like the fact that Monaco provides a different challenge. True, its practically impossible to pass, however, it is incredibly difficult to do 70+ laps, on the limit, without making a mistake, and as we know, one mistake is all it takes at Monaco. So when the odd pressure situation turns up with one car closing in on the other lap after lap, such as Mansell/Senna, Senna/Prost, Button/Trulli over the years, it can be quite gripping watching the car in front trying to push the limits to stay ahead.

    There is also the chance that Drivers can crash out purely due to a lack of concentration, so the absence of huge tarmac run-off (cheating) areas also makes this race exciting on occasions.

    Put it this way, give me a circuit with history, character, bumps, gradient and finally corners with actual names over any of the modern rubbish we go to nowadys

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  • 39. At 12:50pm on 14 May 2010, tommybrusher wrote:

    Despite the lack of overtaking Monaco is still a great spectacle on TV. I'd much rather see F1 there than at the majority of new desert tracks. Im more excited about qualifying than the race in all honesty but you cant argue that the driver makes no difference around Monaco.

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  • 40. At 12:51pm on 14 May 2010, Mark wrote:

    How bizarre that so many people find Monaco the worst circuit on the calendar. I'm wondering if it's perhaps the successive years of drought in close racing which jades the mind to this race.

    If we had hard, close racing at more tracks, perhaps people would see Monaco for what it is - an extreme test of a driver's skill.

    Instead, we have drivers who - at tracks where passing is more possible - choose to wait to leapfrog at pitstops, or we have situations where cars can't get close enough because of dirty air.

    F1 is too risk averse, which is why the pits is the most-preferred route to overtake. In a long season of boring processions, of course Monaco appears to be the most boring procession. For me however, it's still the one race to watch.

    And I fail to see how anyone in their right mind couldn't have watched the Mansell/Senna battle as anything other than epic. I watched it live and was beside myself, every time I've seen it since I still will Mansell to find a way past Senna!

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  • 41. At 12:54pm on 14 May 2010, The Mercenary wrote:

    Why call it a race as overtaking is impossible therefore not a contest.Street circuits are a waste of time as you want to see drivers compete against each other not against the layout.

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  • 42. At 12:59pm on 14 May 2010, jonhan wrote:

    I love F1 but have to say the Monaco Grand Prix is boring to watch, and even a liability as far as keeping interest in the sport among the masses.

    Sure, it is an exaggeration to say so, but it appears this race in particular is all over after the first lap - and as far as it being a race or duel between cars and speed, it is.

    This Grand Prix very, very quickly becomes one where reliability and fast pit work win it. That is not a good way to generate more interest in F1 at all.

    I will watch it and love it, yes - but F1 needs to widen its audience beyond true enthusiasts who, as all enthusiasts, will put up with a lot.

    To widen the audience we need races to be won by racers. Monaco does not offer that.

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  • 43. At 1:19pm on 14 May 2010, Nevs_A_Red wrote:

    Hamilton's made 32 overtakes in 4 races....what odds that on this "track" he wont be able to make one. For me the best tracks reward the best drivers, not the one's lucky enough to be in the fsstest car in qualifying/avoid bad luck.
    The only way this is going to be an exciting race is if the weather changes - possibly 2 or 3 times during the race! Wouldnt that shake things up a bit.

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  • 44. At 1:25pm on 14 May 2010, Stevie D wrote:

    @34 (Mr T)
    Monaco should never be changed.

    I don't think it should be changed - it is very much a part of the F1 culture and history, and it's important to have a variety of different circuits and styles. I can understand why some drivers rate it, and why it means more to them to win here than in most places. But that said, I don't have any great love for the track - like a lot of other people have said, the race itself tends to be pretty dull and uninspiring - I don't see it as being the most exciting pinnacle of the sport, it's one race out of many, and rarely the best.

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  • 45. At 1:26pm on 14 May 2010, Fizzoid wrote:

    Monaco is all about the money, glitz & glamour. You get the feeling if the circuit was actually in some dull corner of Eastern Europe for example, it would have been binned already.

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  • 46. At 1:40pm on 14 May 2010, jonnyg82 wrote:

    Who are these people?

    @5 'wish they would make the track wider'

    How? By flattening hotels and blowing up mountains? Be realistic.

    @25 'I'll be watching the grass grow or the paint drying.'

    One question. Why would anyone do that?

    Most proper F1 fans watch for the technology, the fact it is the pinnacle of motor engineering, the incredible attention to detail, the pitting of wits of the brightest minds in sport with some incredibly talented drivers thrown in for good measure. If you want excitement watch Monaco 2007. A young upstart by the name of Hamilton throwing his car all over the place, getting four wheel drift through the chicanes (in a modern formula one car!!), deperately trying to bully his world champion team-mate into crashing into the barriers, inches from disaster.

    Formula 1 doesn't get better than that. If that's not good enough for you, don't watch.

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  • 47. At 3:19pm on 14 May 2010, Padeight wrote:

    The circuit is great, that is a given. But I find it hilarious there are so many who revel in the magic of Monaco. There is none. After working there for over a year and a half, the sterility and lifelessness of the place is mind-numbing. It may be great for an event such as the F1 GP, but try living there for a while...

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  • 48. At 3:30pm on 14 May 2010, matt wrote:

    JONNYG82

    So, so right. F1 doesn't need to 'widen it's audience', it already has too large an audience, a large proportion of whom have no idea of what they are watching, or the historic relevance of any of it. In my opinion, F1 has been going downhill ever since it got big TV coverage over here, and big money car companies wanted to look good on telly. Lose some of the numpty jonny-come-lately fans, lose plenty of the money, and perhaps things will improve.
    And as for 'most boring race of the season', try Valencia last year. Any year.

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  • 49. At 6:39pm on 14 May 2010, smilingSpongeMuffin wrote:

    How can you say you you are fan of F1 but not Monaco? It surely is an oxymoron.

    Monaco is great. Anything can happen if the drivers have the balls and pressure the guy in front. It seems the negative comments are from "here today, gone tomorrow" watchers. Just because a BBC forum gives the opportunity for everyone to comment, doesn't mean that everyone who comments is actually a true F1 fan.

    If you choose to watch paint dry over watching Monaco (which they will not), then how much of a fan can you be? You're more of a fan of interior decorating.

    Can't wait for Sunday. I love back to back weekends.

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  • 50. At 6:40pm on 14 May 2010, smilingSpongeMuffin wrote:

    ok, before it gets pointed out.

    It is a contradiction, not an oxymoron. I stand corrected by myself.

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  • 51. At 6:48pm on 14 May 2010, smilingSpongeMuffin wrote:

    #42

    To widen the audience we need races to be won by racers. Monaco does not offer that.

    Go look at the list of who wins here. Are these people not racers? I remember many exciting races here. I remember "not so exciting" races at almost all circuits.

    F1 commentary in blogs is done by the youngsters as they know how to switch on a computer. It seems that all they care about is whether the race is exciting or not. Well, the facts are, that F1 has never been as exciting as it is today. To claim otherwise is to admit to not having watched it for very long. The same goes for football, rugby, and many other sports. Sometimes they are exciting, and sometimes they are dull.

    One bad premier league game does not bring out people calling for rule changes, or claiming the sport is dead. So why in F1? I think it because those who comment on how boring it is don't really understand why they are watching, or what race craft means.

    F1 does not need to widen it's audience. It's audience comes to F1.

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  • 52. At 7:05pm on 14 May 2010, hitmanray wrote:

    Everyone complaining that this race will simply be a procession are forgetting 6 very important factors, 2 from Virgin, 2 from Lotus and 2 from Hispania. Hamilton nearly tripped over one of the Virgins last weekend when exiting the pits, and that was on the overtaking-friendly-wide-as-an-ocean Barcelona circuit.

    Who needs rain when you have 6 cars 4 seconds off the pace with a few young drivers who will undoubtedly spend 90% of their time watching their mirrors after the first 10 laps. Anyone fancy seeing Alonso and Hamilton battling for the lead and stumbling across Chandhok heading into the swimming pool complex?

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  • 53. At 7:31pm on 14 May 2010, Mr Factory wrote:

    Well said Fizzoid (46)
    "Monaco is all about the money, glitz & glamour. You get the feeling if the circuit was actually in some dull corner of Eastern Europe for example, it would have been binned already."

    Its absurd that the races like Silverstone are threatened with specious reasoning like "they don't have proper facilities..." and then we still have Monaco where 20 of the teams can't even park their equipment in the pits but have to walk and carry it down the hill. The only reason FI races there is the money.

    I'd agree its a great track to drive around - even at a leisurely 10 minutes a lap in my Ford Focus. It really IS narrow though... and very hilly... and very bumpy. Those drivers are pretty good at what they do!!!

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  • 54. At 11:01pm on 14 May 2010, me wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 55. At 00:56am on 15 May 2010, trismus wrote:


    If you choose to watch paint dry over watching Monaco (which they will not), then how much of a fan can you be? You're more of a fan of interior decorating.


    A big enough fan to appreciate that the only 'racing' that takes place in Monaco is the racing against the clock in qualifying.
    A supermarket car park on pension day provides more excitement than the Monaco con job.

    Most proper F1 fans watch for the technology, the fact it is the pinnacle of motor engineering, the incredible attention to detail, the pitting of wits of the brightest minds in sport with some incredibly talented drivers thrown in for good measure.

    What exactly is this technology you are privy to that the rest of us aren't, most of us notice that the yellow car is prettier than the red car, when it comes to whether the internal configuration of a Force India gearbox is better than that of a Red Bull I would figure most F1 fans would be at a total loss.

    Do you tech experts have degrees in aerodynamics that allows you to understand the effect a tweak in the bodywork on the overall performamce of a car.

    A young upstart by the name of Hamilton throwing his car all over the place

    Having worked his way up from carts as a lad, 'upstart' could be considered an insult to the skills he developed.
    He's a racer as was Mansell and Senna.

    What happened to daring-do in this sport, sorry, business!

    So, so right. F1 doesn't need to 'widen it's audience', it already has too large an audience, a large proportion of whom have no idea of what they are watching, or the historic relevance of any of it.

    History, that's where Monaco belongs.

    How can you say you you are fan of F1 but not Monaco? It surely is an oxymoron.

    Monaco is great. Anything can happen if the drivers have the balls and pressure the guy in front. It seems the negative comments are from "here today, gone tomorrow" watchers. Just because a BBC forum gives the opportunity for everyone to comment, doesn't mean that everyone who comments is actually a true F1 fan.


    OK, I'm an oxymoronn and what I write is a contradiction.
    'Anything can happen', right, the problem is it so rarely does.
    A true F1 fan would not feel the need to defend Monaco recognising it for what it is, a moving traffic jam.
    I assume to join the 'True F1 fan club' I need to sit in front of the T/V with my out of date technical manuals swallowing sedatives to contain the excitement of watching the fastest cars in the world parading round the streets of Monaco.

    One bad premier league game does not bring out people calling for rule changes, or claiming the sport is dead. So why in F1? I think it because those who comment on how boring it is don't really understand why they are watching, or what race craft means.

    When and why was the Blue flag introduced?

    Might I suggest because the overpaid drivers in the big budget cars with all the technology available to them don't have the necessary skills or courage to overtake a slower car.

    I'm 69 years old and I've been watching motor racing as long as I can remember, as a youngster I often drank in the 'Winning Post' a themed motor racing pub before pubs were themed.
    I've driven cars at Goodwood - highly recommended - and a company I owned used to pack racing cars -not F1- and all their bits and pieces.
    The most famous being a Le-Mans Porsche No44.
    Having said that I suppose untill I understand the nuances of a tweak to a double diffuser I'll never be considered an F1 fan.

    Amen.

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  • 56. At 11:06am on 15 May 2010, Chris wrote:

    Ref Alonso crash in Practice

    I think BBC1s Hollys question to Alonso as he walked back to the pits asking" was it driver error" was even braver than Michael Schumacher returning to F1 as a an old slow driver ( but improving ?).

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  • 57. At 11:38am on 15 May 2010, jonnyg82 wrote:

    @ trismus, you've completely missed the point of what I was saying i'm afraid. Please re-read my post at 46.

    'Do you tech experts have degrees in aerodynamics that allows you to understand the effect a tweak in the bodywork on the overall performamce of a car.'

    No, i don't have a degree in engineering or aerodynamics however that is irrelevant. I can appreciate the skill involved in preparing a formula 1 car and even the layman can see the stratospheric leap it takes to get from a road car to what blasts around the streets of Monte Carlo. It's the same feeling I get when I look at a stradivarius violin, do I understand how the sound resonance works? No. Can I appreciate the craftmanship? Yes. I'm interested in the technical stuff and i've learnt more about it over the years by reading and I know a lot of formula 1 fans who do the same.

    'Having worked his way up from carts as a lad, 'upstart' could be considered an insult to the skills he developed.'

    You've completely taken the word upstart out of context, it is clear I was paying Hamilton a firm compliment if you read my post again. For the record i think he has proven this season he is the finest racer currrently in Formula 1. See others posts for his incredible overtaking record.

    'I'm 69 years old and I've been watching motor racing as long as I can remember'

    And you continue to watch F1 despite all your criticism. I can only deduce that you, like others on this forum are drawn to F1 for the reasons I set out in my last post and either won't admit it or don't realise it.


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  • 58. At 12:30pm on 15 May 2010, Tony wrote:

    I'm a 63 yr old American and just discovered F1 last year. Needless to say I am now addicted! Love the BBC coverage and especially the buildups. Great blog Jonathan! I don't know about anybody else, but watching the practice session for this race from the driver's viewpoint scared the hell out of me and I am a longtime skydiver. I wouldn't drive this race if you paid me a billion dollars. Can't wait to see this race!

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  • 59. At 1:13pm on 15 May 2010, Nick Coveyduck wrote:

    Does anyone know the name of the Yacht the BBC are on?

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  • 60. At 00:59am on 16 May 2010, ian burrows wrote:

    To all who have submitted their comments positive and negative:
    I have to agree with Mr Legard on the subject of Monaco - it is simply irreplaceable and unmatchable.
    For those that have made comments on cost - it really isn't the most expensive race to attend by a long way, and for fans you won't get a better idea of just how brave (mad) these guys are than Monaco - no run-off, no gravel just a dirty great wall to greet you.
    The tunnel is flat out - 170 mph, round a big right hander with walls and barriers; you cannot begin to understand how you could do it once let alone 70+ times without once getting it wrong.
    We did a survey this year, to which 90,000 fans responded and we asked what is the most important race in the F1 calendar - the result in order was Monaco, Monza, Silverstone, Spa, Interlagos - the place is utterly unique and should remain forever as the most ridiculous, wonderful and incredible place to race cars ever.

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  • 61. At 02:08am on 16 May 2010, 30_Gilles27 wrote:

    @trismus, as a further point to jonnyg82, I also do not possess a degree in motorsport engineering but I can appreciate the effort that goes into the design of race cars and bikes. A family friend of mine has done that very degree and his first job with Audi was to try and make a nut for screw as aerodynamic as possible. He left after a few months because, in his words "it was that anal". The knowledge they have at making these cars with the drag coefficient of a fish is frankly mind boggling. Formula 1 uses the laws of physics and tries to bend them beyond their parameters and then some.

    Having (hopefully) established my profound respect for the engineers of this sport, I would like to point out that my problem (and many others) is not with the car design but the limitations of the street circuit. While for the driver it is a unique experience which I also have respect for, for the fan who neither drives the circuit or builds the car, it is not a spectacle.

    Saying it is the jewel in the crown is also rubbish. Monza and Spa are incredible circuits which have been on the calendar just as long and challenge the drivers to the same degree with similar, if not more impressive history, Monza being the most dangerous in the world having claimed the most lives and Spa being the complete driver course. The difference between Monaco and them being the fan's favourite is that they allow the drivers to compete with one another while still punishing mistakes. Monza may cause a huge crash and Spa gives an enormous time loss but both give enough room for the drivers to pass one another should the chance arise.

    While Monaco has the show that surrounds it which makes it unique, fans are beginning to drift away from this, perhaps already dissociated themselves, as it is now simply something that is common place in most celebrity magazines. F1 fans do not care who was wearing what on race day nor the sunseeker they wore it on as it is not of interest, we are more interested in how the shorter Mercedes wheel base will affect the handling and subsequent race pace in comparison to Barcelona.

    The popularity of Monaco is still high at the moment, as shown by the poll I quoted earlier, but as the older generation disappear the popularity will wane. I am of the younger generation being 21 years old and I struggle to find anyone of my generation who is a fan of the Monacan GP, which is the age group Bernie wishes to target (small sample I know but it is the mood both around Holloway university and Portsmouth that I've encountered). We aren't swayed by the show as it is all too familiar to us given the enormous coverage given to such events and subsequently having it rammed in our faces week after week. Petrov's comments most likely show the attitude of my generation coming through, have the style but it requires substance, you need a race to match. As the saying goes, you can't polish a t**d.

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  • 62. At 11:39am on 16 May 2010, trismus wrote:

    jonny42,

    If I misunderstood/misinterpreted I can only offer my sincere apologies.

    Vettel 2010 champ,

    Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate the effort that goes into getting a car onto the grid, but, when those red lights go out I want to see a 'motor race' to often nowadays all we get is the 'motor'.

    When I awoke this morning I put the radio on, - 5 Live -, Garry Richardson was interviewing someone on Monaco, unfortunately I missed the beginning of the interview so I don't know who was being interviewed.
    What the interviewee was saying was that Monaco is a waiting game, they wait for someone to get a puncture or a mechanical problem that then allows them to move up the table.

    That isn't a race!!

    So many people refer to the Senna/Mansell battle, as exciting as it was Mansell couldn't overtake. Therein lays the problem.

    Drivers today are too mollycoddled, it's great that they can hit a barrier at 170mph and walk away unscathed, the fact that they are able to do that should theoretically lead to greater racing, more risk taking more daring do, the opposite appears to be the case.

    In road cars one of the arguments is that they have been made so safe in the event of an accident with seat belts, air bags etc that drivers are taking more risks. In F1 the opposite appears to be the case.

    An idea might be for young chaps like yourself with the belief that you are infallible, say up to age 30, and old farts like me over 60 with the experience of life and the knowledge that we are knocking at deaths door to be put in races together, chuck in Eddie Jordans sprinklers and maybe the thrills of racing might be the outcome.

    A better idea could be to make the drivers pay relative to their standing at the end of the previous season with huge differences in the pay of the first 10 positions. Make them strive to achieve.

    I'm off now to sit on the grass and paint the fence!

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  • 63. At 6:06pm on 16 May 2010, merkle wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

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