It may be a parade more often than a competitive race, but Monaco is intrinsically linked with Formula 1. That’s an opinion I think many longtime fans share, and one certainly echoed by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who just so happens to be from Monaco. Sure, you don’t have to be Monagasque to advocate for the continued running of the Monaco Grand Prix, but who are we kidding here — the guy is a little more than biased. I mean, just look at the way his neighbors show up for their hometown hero on race day:
Who wouldn’t want that support?
2022 marks the final year of the city’s contract with Formula 1. Monaco has long enjoyed a favorable deal with the racing series, owing to nearly a century of top-level racing taking place on the city’s streets. Now, F1 owner Liberty Media reportedly wants Monaco to pay up to maintain its spot on the calendar.
Leclerc was asked about the future of F1 racing in his hometown, ahead of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, and he responded pretty much as you’d expect. Courtesy Motorsport.com:
“I think it would be a bad move for both parties now,” he said. “I’ve never known Monaco without F1, apart from for COVID reasons in 2020.
“And F1 without Monaco for me is not F1. I think F1 has a history, has some historic tracks like Silverstone, like Monza, and like Monaco too, and I think they should stay in the calendar.”
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Part of the criticism repeatedly lobbed at Monaco is that the track doesn’t foster good racing: it’s so narrow, the walls threaten to nab any driver who pushes their luck. Leclerc was asked if circuit modifications could improve that, even though, well — have you seen Monaco? The place doesn’t exactly offer a lot of space for the track to expand. Again, from Motorsport.com:
“I thought about it sometimes, whether it will improve a lot overtaking,” he said. “I don’t know, maybe before the tunnel you can go to the left and do a big straight there. But how feasible it is?
“I’m not sure. Of course overtaking is difficult, but I think what we all love as drivers is the challenge, especially in qualifying to do that lap, just pushing.
“There’s no track that comes close to the adrenaline we get in Monaco, and for me it’s part of F1 history and should stay in F1.”
I don’t have the Ferrari driver’s firsthand experience, of course, but I’d counter that passing in Monaco seemed to be easier in the days before F1 cars were the size of boats. Liberty probably doesn’t want to hear that, though, and that’s why F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali will never hire me as a consultant. That is certainly the only reason.
So Monaco remains on the bubble, and Motorsport’s Luke Smith cites anonymous sources who say that teams have been informed the race is likely to disappear from next year’s calendar. It’d break my heart, but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t break anyone’s as badly as Leclerc’s. For his sake, I hope he finally nabs that home victory that’s dodged him thus far. It could be his last chance.