The Formula One circus visits one of the most glamorous cities in the world, Monaco, this weekend. The principality on the French Riviera is considered one of the most expensive ‘countries’ in the world. At just 2,1 km² it is also the second smallest, after the Vatican. For one weekend a year, this harbourside town becomes the focus of world motorsport as it hosts the Monaco F1 GP. But does the famous venue still warrant its place on the calendar?

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A bit of history

The first Monaco Grand Prix was held in 1929. It initially formed part of the pre-war Grand Prix series. From 1950 onwards it formed part of the Formula One World Championship and quickly became a favourite among spectators, and drivers alike, for its stunning views and glitzy backdrop.

The Monaco Grand Prix forms part of motorsport’s unofficial Triple Crown. The other two races are the Indianapolis 500, which also takes place this weekend, and 24 Hours of Le Mans. Graham Hill remains the only racing driver to have won all three in his career.

Check out this cool watch that TAG created to celebrate the famous race.

New pressure

In recent times the Formula One Grand Prix championship has expanded to new markets with a record-setting 22 races making up the 2022 calendar. The sport’s commercial rights holders are keen to explore new territories in an effort to broaden the appeal of F1. The aim, of course, is to increase revenue. With that in mind, the Monaco F1 GP has come under pressure. 

Formula One’s commercial rights holders Liberty Media are currently in negotiations with the organisers of the Monaco F1 GP for a contract extension. New races such as the Miami GP are bringing record numbers of spectators. New venues are being added to the calendar, which include Las Vegas and Qatar.

There is also the likelihood of a race on the African continent. “Johannesburg is definitely on our list,” Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei confirmed to the New York Times recently. “You’d love to have one in Cape Town, but I’m not sure that’s doable, so Johannesburg is the more likely.” Kyalami is ready to host an F1 race, as circuit owner Toby Venter told us in an exclusive interview, which you can read here.

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Processional races

Formula One has changed markedly since its inception in 1950. Not least of all, there has been a massive increase in the size of the latest-generation racecars. The 2022-spec cars are the largest and heaviest that have ever competed. They are significantly different since the early days when cars could race each other side-by-side through the confines of the street circuit.

As a result, races have become quite processional, with the pole sitter going on to win more often than not under normal weather conditions. The track has always provided a challenge for drivers. Nelson Piquet has famously described the venue as trying to ride your bicycle around your lounge.

Click here to watch some beautiful retro Monaco F1 GP footage.

One defender of the race is local lad, and current Ferrari driver, Charles Leclerc. “I agree that there are things we can change to increase the overtaking because the cars have evolved and it might not be the best track to overtake, but in terms of a challenge for the driver, it is one of the toughest and it must stay on the calendar.”

Watch Leclerc crash a historic Ferrari F1 car at a recent revival event at this link.

Critics of the Monaco F1 GP

Several high-level critics have spoken out about the historic race in recent times. F1 chief Stefano Domenicali warned in March that it was “not enough to have a pedigree anymore” in terms of hosting races, as reported by Fox News Sports.

McLaren’s boss Zak Brown agreed, “Monaco always stood for the most glamorous part of Formula One. I think Miami, Singapore, Las Vegas are starting to add some pretty glamorous markets,” he said.

Stay or go

“Formula One has historic tracks like Silverstone, Monza and Monaco, too, but Monaco should stay on the calendar,” says Leclerc. However, that decision will not lie within the hands of the teams or the drivers, but rather the commercial rights’ holder. Liberty Media may be lured elsewhere by a large cheque, or a track with that provides better racing action, in which case the Monaco F1 GP may be relegated to history. 

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