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Monaco Grand Prix
MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 29: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 leads Carlos Sainz of Spain driving (55) the Ferrari F1-75 Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 and Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari F1-75 during the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 29, 2022 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Does Monaco Really Deserve A Spot On The F1 Calendar?

Other races are fighting for a chance to put on a show for F1 fans.

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This past weekend Formula 1 was in Monaco, and had an uncharacteristically exciting race at one of the oldest Grand Prix on the calendar. 

While Monte Carlo hosts one of the most anticipated and flashy races in the Formula 1 season, the track has suffered through its fair share of criticism. The Monaco Grand Prix is often referred to as a processional rather than a race due to the lack of overtaking opportunities on the track.

With new exciting venues hosting street circuit races like Miami and Las Vegas popping up, people are starting to question whether or not Monaco truly deserves its spot on the Formula 1 calendar. Was an exciting 2022 race enough to save the future of the Monaco Grand Prix?

The History of The Monaco Grand Prix
The 1950 Monaco Grand Prix (Image Credit: Getty Images)

The Monaco Grand Prix isn’t just one of Formula 1’s biggest races, it’s one of the most iconic sporting events in the world. Considered one of motorsport’s three “crown jewels”, the race has a rich history of prestige and is one of the most coveted wins on the calendar.

The race itself actually predates Formula 1 by quite a few years. The inaugural Monaco Grand Prix took place in 1929 and was won by William Grover-Williams. In 1935 the race became an official part of the Grand Prix calendar. But financial problems in addition to World War II saw the end of the Monaco Grand Prix from 1939 to 1947.

Then, in 1950, the Monaco Grand Prix became a part of the first ever official Formula 1 World Championship. While the race wasn’t held in 1953 or 1954, when it returned it stayed for good. Ever since, the Monaco Grand Prix has been a defining part of Formula 1 racing, as well as motorsport as a whole.

Graham Hill, with five wins at the track, earned himself the nickname “Mr Monaco” in the 60s. But it’s Aryton Senna who holds the record for number of wins at Monaco, with six victories to his name between 1987-1993. In the nine years between 1984-1993 either Senna or his rival Alain Prost won the Grand Prix, Prost taking a total of four Monaco wins in his career during that time.

The Present of the Monaco Grand Prix

In recent years, the track at Monte Carlo has come under a fair amount of criticism for its layout. The nature of the circuit and the modern Formula 1 cars makes overtaking almost impossible. 

In the past ten years, there have been a total of 113 overtakes at Monaco. Yes, that is the number of overtakes for all of the races, added together. That’s an average of about 11 overtakes per race.

Due to the unfortunate lack of overtaking, the race at Monaco becomes all about Qualifying. Once starting positions have been decided, most of the excitement is over. What Monaco lacks in racing, it makes up for with sheer hype. The richest people and biggest names from all over the world come to Monaco every year to watch the race, whether it’s good racing or not. It’s a huge spectacle, often more like a parade than a race.

This past weekend, Sergio Perez took victory at a weather-plagued Monaco Grand Prix. The race had weather delays, poor strategy calls, a red flag, and plenty of excitement, but still only 12 overtakes.

The top four drivers of the race were all technically in the fight for the win. At times the Red Bulls and Ferraris went into the corner nose to tail, all four of them separated by mere metres.

The Red Bull and Ferrari drivers remained close throughout the closing stages of the 2022 Monaco GP (Image Credit: Getty Images)

And while Perez had to work hard for the win, second-placed Carlos Sainz never really had a chance to overtake for the win. Further back, a slow Fernando Alonso managed to hold up the whole second half of the pack, simply because no one could get past him on the narrow circuit.

It was entertaining, sure. But it was also frustrating for viewers, who wanted to see a fair fight and wanted drivers to have a realistic chance at making a move on someone. What’s the point of continuing to race at a track that doesn’t support a real race? Is the history of the Grand Prix really worth that much?

The Future of The Monaco Grand Prix

Monaco’s future has been called into question as new races are vying for a spot on Formula 1’s ever-growing calendar. Regardless of the history and prestige of the event, some are calling to replace the track with one that would actually support an entertaining and competitive race.

2020 was the first year that Formula 1 hadn’t raced at Monaco since 1954, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It left a hole in the calendar that was definitely felt.

But what the pandemic provided was the opportunity for races that weren’t normally on the calendar to showcase their ability to provide a racing spectacle. Tracks like Mugello, Algarve, and Istanbul were added in the panic to fill the calendar

What 2020 showed was that Formula 1 can survive without Monaco. Other tracks are more than capable of providing good racing. While Monaco would be missed, they could make up for it.

As for the party atmosphere, the inaugural Miami Grand Prix showcased that America is ready to give Monaco a run for its money. With a race in Las Vegas coming up in 2023 and more and more countries fighting for a race, Formula 1 is running out of room in the calendar.

The podium celebration at the 2022 Miami Grand Prix (Image Credit: Getty Images)

So the Monaco Grand Prix might not be missed much race-wise, if it was replaced with a better circuit, or even atmosphere-wise if Las Vegas is anything like it’s expected to be. But nothing can replace the deep and rich history that the track at Monte Carlo holds.

Monaco established itself years ago as a race that deserves to be on the calendar. But is its background enough to justify a race that more often than not leaves viewers at home bored and disappointed?

So now Formula 1 has a tough decision to make. Which is more important: History or entertainment?

Feature Image Credit: Getty Images

  1. Time for Monaco to be retired. It is a boring race, no matter how historic it is.

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