Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Monaco, 2022

F1 is making Monaco more like every other race. Here’s another change it needs

2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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Formula 1 used to regard the Monaco Grand Prix in much the same way it regarded Ferrari: As a unique part of the show of such importance it deserved special treatment.

Just as Ferrari had the power to veto regulations changes it opposed, the principality was granted favours other races could only dream of.

Notably, while other grands prix had to hand over the lucrative trackside advertising arrangements to F1, Monaco arranged its own. At every other track on the calendar F1’s top-paying sponsors each take over individual sections of the track which are plastered in a single brand. In Monaco a mix of different names are crammed into each location.

But Monaco’s special treatment is increasingly a thing of the past. Last year saw a major change as the event lost its early start. Previous Monaco Grands Prix had begun with practice on a Thursday, followed by a day off on Friday. Last year the event fell into line with the other 21 rounds on the F1 calendar.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monaco, 2021
No more Thursday action at Monaco since 2021
While this undoubtedly took away an aspect which made the event special, the loss of a day of inactivity is not likely to be missed. Some regarded it as an inconvenience – Michael Schumacher even headed back to Ferrari’s Fiorano test track to shake down a spare chassis on the Friday of the 1999 event.

Monaco has lost another of its special graces this year, one which is unlikely to disappoint anybody who doesn’t work for Tele Monte Carlo. F1 will take over from the Monaco broadcaster in producing the images which are beamed around the world, and viewers’ days of cursing the ‘Monaco TV director’ for failing to keep up with the action are over.

F1 today nodded towards the broadcaster’s notorious 2021 gaffe when it cut away from Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly scrambling up Massenet in a rare moment of side-by-side action to show an inconsequential replay of Lance Stroll. Other local broadcasters long ago relinquished their rights to produce the footage for international audiences and the quality of F1’s coverage has improved as a result.

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Anyone on the Monaco side of the operation suffering from a touch of wounded pride should console themselves with the thought their event will come across much better this year. The Monaco Grand Prix has garnered a non-entirely-undeserved reputation for being processional, but hopefully that will improve with fewer moments of genuine interest being overlooked.

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Monaco
Monaco’s TV director targeted the wrong Aston Martin
This year Monaco will also fall further into line with F1’s preferred support race format. For years Renault-powered junior championships enjoyed a privileged spot on the schedule: Formula Renault 3.5 series, the former rival to GP2 (now F2) was once the Sunday morning curtain-raiser to the grand prix. After that series closed, the more junior Eurocup took over, but that is gone too, paving the way for F3 to return alongside F2.

Same format, same support races, same television director: The Monaco Grand Prix increasingly looks like any other European round of the world championship. But there is one other key difference which remains, and it too is overdue a rethink.

Monaco’s grand prix is shorter than every other round of the world championship. This is specified in the sporting regulations – along with its unique podium ceremony – which states: “the distance of the race in Monaco shall be equal to the least number of complete laps which exceed a distance of 260km” instead of the usual 305km.

The rule is a hang-over from the days when average speeds around Monaco were so slow that fitting a full-length race without the two-hour time limit was difficult. However as cars have become quicker and sections of the track have been eased this is much less of a concern. During the last dry grand prix, in 2021, all 78 laps were rattled off in less than 99 minutes – leaving more than enough time to complete another 13 tours which would have brought the race up to the same distance as all the others.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Monaco, 2022
Comment: IndyCar’s determination to complete every racing lap is an example to F1
There’s no longer any reason for Monaco’s race to be shorter than all the others. There’s both a business and a sporting case for making it the standard length. Sponsors would surely appreciate an extra 15-20 minutes of coverage at what remains F1’s most recognisable event. A longer race would create more time for tyres to degrade, drivers to fatigue and make mistakes. That much was surely clear at the end of last year’s curtailed race, where winner Sergio Perez was developing tyre trouble and had a trio of cars climbing over his tail when the chequered flag was waved even earlier than usual due to F1’s questionable red flag rules.

As F1’s popularity has grown under Liberty Media, Monaco’s importance to it has diminished. Those running the series have won concessions which have made this showpiece race increasingly resemble the rest of the calendar. Some positive changes have come out of this and more could follow.

But what makes Monaco special as a sporting event is the unique challenge of the circuit. While it has been eased in places over the years no other F1 street track is as punishingly narrow, nor as rewarding of precision as Monaco is. In a season when one team is sweeping all before it, there’s a reason why some of their rivals are eyeing this grand prix as they one where they might just snatch a win.

Yes, this relic of a race needed some updates and arguably still does. But not everything has to change.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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36 comments on “F1 is making Monaco more like every other race. Here’s another change it needs”

  1. Did Monaco used to also have their own camera man on the track as well?
    I would need to review old videos for a comparison if this was the case. Because I hate F1 camera work. I just hate it to the core. What exactly? The constant zooming in on the cars. I want to see a car driving against a background, but when they zoom in so much on the cars all you see is just the car and not its actual motion on the track. It makes no sense.

    1. Apparently im not the only one, with the focal length choices its often hard to get a sense of the speed. It would be nice with less panning and extreme zooming as a change sometimes.

      1. Absolutely agree. Most inexpensive and easy way to add spectacle to F1 without the need to start fiddling with formats and rules. Maybe they can get some inspiration by watching the movie Grand Prix or the documentary about Oppenheimer’s Day of The Champion. Some crazy good footage to n both and the great opening sequence by Saul Bass in Grand Prix.

        1. Oppenheimer should be Frankenheimer

      2. Yellow Baron
        22nd May 2023, 21:46

        This is why indycar is a better spectacle. The sense of speed I’d conveyed much better. So much so that imo they look just as fast as F1 cars even though they’re similar paced to f2 cars.
        They also sound better which helps and I much prefer the commentary also.

    2. Many things in the past were worse but they had charm. Now it’s just a normal thing without any charm. Better but not in all ways.

    3. I’m actually surprised this hasn’t been picked up. It’s very easy to make F1 races look a lot more spectacular just by changing the way it’s being filmed. You can still add in a bunch of obligatory shots to get the trackside advertisers their agreed upon airtime. I think it was Monza that used to have a great bunch of static cameras that really captured the speed well.

    4. The Monaco camera work was always designed to perfectly frame the trackside ads. I hope this annoying aspect of the coverage will be moderated this year.
      Not sure this will improve the impression of speed, but it can’t hurt.

    5. These days we rarely get to see them online and all. Damn coverage is soo zoomed in now for the “hero” shots.

  2. I fail to see the wisdom of needlessly elongating an already dull procession.

    1. @proesterchen Agreed. So what if a driver has more tyre wear than another? When Ricciardo led the field home in a compromised Red Bull a few years back he was multiple seconds off the pace. How many overtakes did that generate? Zero.

    2. Suffering Williams Fan
      22nd May 2023, 22:21

      Completely agree. When I saw this suggestion my immediate thought was “Please God, no”. I’d be fine with them reducing the race distance to 150km, it’s already needlessly long (I think there is a case for shortening Grands Prix more generally, but Monaco in particular).

  3. Monaco GP becoming more & more aligned with other events over time is good.
    FOM taking over the world feed coverage directing is the most important thing that should’ve happened long ago, but better later than never.
    Other tracks also sometimes have non-F1 global sponsors appearing on trackside, which are event or location-specific, such as, for example, Gainbridge in Miami or respective national airlines in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, etc., & Monaco also does feature the usual global sponsors, but yes, in a more mixed-up manner without clear-cut consistency, which is largely indifferent.
    Regarding race distance, yes, less reason for still having 260 km as the minimum distance reference as opposed to the standard 305 these days, so either this, which would mean 92 laps as 92 is the lowest needed to reach 305, or Singapore should get reduced to 52 (the equivalent lowest for 260), to minimize the risk of exceeding the two-hour limit.
    Perhaps the former would be better in the end since the risk of not getting all laps done within two hours is no higher in Monaco versus Singapore, not to mention for consistency’s sake.

    1. They are making significant changes to the track layout in Singapore due to construction. They are eliminating turns 16-19 making it one long straight and decreasing the track length. Lap times are supposed to decrease by about 9 seconds.

  4. I don’t agree with the idea that the Monaco GP is always a procession. If we simply look at the last decade, almost every race had something interesting about it:

    2022 – the switch from wet to dry tyres was fascinating from a strategic point of view, with Red Bull beating Ferrari, and those who went to inters early, like Gasly, pulled off some amazing overtakes.

    2021 – not the most interesting race, but it was good to see different cars able to be competitive, in this case Ferrari.

    2019 – Hamilton was wrongly on the medium tyres while those behind were on quicker hards, and an exciting defensive drive followed with Verstappen not quite able to get through.

    2018 – Ricciardo managed to hold onto the lead and win despite considerably less power than those behind.

    2017 – Not the best race, but still some interesting strategy between the Ferraris at the front.

    2016 – Helped by the drying track, it was somewhat similar to 2022, and with a Ricciardo-Hamilton battle for victory.

    2015 – Mercedes’ strategic blunder cost Hamilton victory.

    2014 – Jules Bianchi’s amazing drive to score points for Marussia.

    So even in the hybrid era, when cars have become bigger and worse at following, making Monaco seem more and more unsuitable, in general the races there have arguably been average, and certainly not the worst on the calendar. But that is not the biggest appeal of Monaco, which is the qualifying laps and the final Q3 lap at Monaco is the most special of any race on the calendar by far, while it is also impressive that the drivers can stay out of the wall for an entire race. It is also special to know that it is practically the same track that Achille Varzi and Tazio Nuvolari raced on in their famous battle in 1933. Monaco has so many huge and almost unique positives that there is no way it should be scrapped from the calendar. The biggest problem with the Monaco track is not Monaco but the cars themselves, which are too big and heavy and can’t follow closely enough, which is a problem everywhere. Fix these issues, and make the cars a little harder to drive, and Monaco would improve significantly to be among the best races of all, and all the other races would improve as well. There were plenty of classic Monaco GPs in the past.

    1996 – Olivier Panis winning a race which just four cars finished.

    1992 – Nigel Mansell unable to pass Ayrton Senna with a fabulous defence.

    1988 – Senna’s incredible pole lap, and then mistake while miles ahead of Prost.

    1984 – The shortened wet race where Senna and Bellof starred.

    1982 – Greatest finish to a race in history, the race nobody wanted to win.

    1972 – The greatest one-hit wonder performance in history from Jean-Pierre Beltoise.

    1970 – Jochen Rindt hunting down Jack Brabham and forcing him into a mistake.

    1965 – Graham Hill’s great fightback after going down an escape road.

    1961 – Stirling Moss with one of the finest drives ever to beat the much faster Ferraris, because Monaco is a driver’s circuit.

    1933 – Achille Varzi and Tazio Nuvolari swapping the lead many times over the 100 laps.

    Monaco is a very special race, the one that requires the most skill to drive on by far and has been as such arguably forever (although there were more contenders in the past), and it is more unique than any other race. There is a reason it has been chosen as the third jewel in the triple crown. It has to remain on the calendar.

    1. This ^ I honestly don’t get the hate.

      It’s a wonderful circuit and I wouldn’t miss a minute of it.

    2. Exactly – @f1frog – never really a dull moment at Monaco.

      What worries me is with FOM taking over the telecast we’ll probably see more celebrities than actual racing on track this year.

    3. your point for 2018/19 are almost laughable for arguing against it being a procession, in both cases drivers were massively off the pace and still unable to be overtaken. You may call it great defensive driving some might call it a fundamental flaw in the track all I know is I call it a boring race

  5. Monaco doesn’t need to be shorter.
    The dry race being 99 minutes, which is 1 hour 39 minutes is long enough. That’s about what other races on the calendar with much higher average speeds achieve (some even shorter, e.g. Monza).

    And that’s a dry race with no incidents. Monaco frequently has wet weather and safety cars. Adding more laps only increases the chances of the race hitting the 2 hour limit.

    The only reason I can think of that they want to increase the race distance is so they can manufacture more controversial endings orchestrated by race control.

    1. Monaco doesn’t need to be shorter.

      I meant longer

      1. I think the problem is that Monaco is a very specific special case. F1 won’t even consider a new track which would need to be shorter than 305km.

        If there were a few other races on the calendar which were slower and shorter, I wouldn’t mind (in fact it would be very interesting adding such variety to the races). To have every other race forced to run to 305km, even where they could do with being shorter, but allowing Monaco special treatment isn’t right.

    2. The only reason I can think of that they want to increase the race distance is so they can manufacture more controversial endings orchestrated by race control.

      Huh? Masi left, with a cloud over him.

    3. @davids as you note, in terms of the length of time that it takes to complete the race, there are multiple other venues on the calendar where the average race length is considerably shorter.

      You are right to note that races at Monza are usually a lot quicker – since the current layout was introduced in 2000, virtually every race there has been under 1 hour and 20 minutes, dipping below 1 hour and 15 minutes on several occasions.

      In fact, a lot of races on the calendar are markedly shorter in their average length in terms of time than Monaco is. Most races at Sakhir last a little over 1 hour and 30 minutes, the average race at Silverstone is around 1 hour and 25 minutes, races at Spielberg are about 1 hour and 23 minutes, Spa averages about 1 hour and 25 minutes, Austin around 1 hour and 33 minutes, Suzuka around 1 hour and 25 minutes, Montreal around 1 hour and 30 minutes – the list goes on for quite some way.

      Pretty much the only race track on the calendar where the races are longer than Monaco in terms of time are those in Singapore – and the most common complaint here has been that the race is too long in terms of overall time.

      It also makes a mockery of the airtime argument too – why is an hour and 40 minutes not long enough at Monaco, but it isn’t an issue for sponsors to get 15-25 minutes less coverage at multiple other circuits on the calendar? If sponsors really wanted more airtime, they wouldn’t lobby to make Monaco longer, they should be insisting that all of the other races on the calendar need to be more than 305km.

      1. Pretty much the only race track on the calendar where the races are longer than Monaco in terms of time are those in Singapore – and the most common complaint here has been that the race is too long in terms of overall time.

        And this is what bothers me: Many of the same issues with Monaco apply to Singapore, yet there is no chance of F1 allowing Singapore to run a reduced distance. The special treatment applies only to Monaco.

        I think it would actually be nice to have several reduced-distance street circuits on the calendar. It would give some more variety. If any race is to be allowed to run over a shorter distance, it should be under strict guidelines which apply to any race. Having a specific “Monaco is different” rule is just not right, to me. It shouldn’t be given any special treatment beyond that available to any track.

        1. We don’t need shorter races, you have your Sprint races for that!

          It isn’t ‘special treatment’ as such, it is a practicality! The race at Monaco is already one of the longest timewise on the calendar at it’s current race length as others have pointed out. It isn’t necessary to make the race longer (which I for one actually wouldn’t mind).

          1. It is special treatment. If Monaco wasn’t on the calendar and came to the sport today, they would insist on a 305km length. It’s only because it’s a “historic” race that it gets special treatment. No other track, including Singapore which is similar, is allowed this special dispensation, and no new track could come along with the same situation and be given this special dispensation.

            If it was down to practicalities, then other tracks which face the similar practicalities should be treated similarly. It isn’t: It’s down to the fact that Monaco is barely (being generous) suitable for modern F1, but they don’t want to drop it.

            I would be perfectly happy if Monaco had to follow the same rules as everyone else, no matter which way the rules were done. That could be making it run to the full 305km, or it could be allowing other circuits to run shorter distances for “practicalities”. Either is fine with me, but saying “everywhere must do this, except Monaco”… Nope, can’t agree with it in the slightest.

          2. Note I would also be happy with a set of rules which applied to all historic tracks, which allowed the rules to be tweaked to keep them on the calendar. Give a clear set of standards (e.g. must have been on the calendar for at least {x}% of the seasons in the last {y} years) and a clear list of the rules which should be available for tweaking, with the aim being to keep them in place. As long as that was spelled out up front, and was available for all tracks which fell into the classification, I would find that acceptable.

  6. “ the quality of F1’s coverage has improved as a result.”

    Has it? Are you sure about that because it has been utterly dreadful for the longest time. The director misses an awful lot of action, I end up watching the live timing and see plenty of moves happening that never so much as get a replay. They cut away to celebrities, they cut away to fans in the grand stands, to mechanics, team bosses or drivers girlfriends, they pretty much cut away to anything other than the action that is happening on track, and if I can spot it happening on the live timing app I’m pretty confident they can see it too, which would mean they are prioritising other things over the action.

    Oh they’ll also purposefully go out of their way to decieve the viewers. An example from this year – Baku in qualifying for the sprint Tsunoda shouting on the radio just as he was about to cross the start finish line when the red flag came out – except he was actually halfway around the lap when the red flag came out and he pitted immediately. They went out of their way to edit the radio with different footage to create drama, and you’re telling me they’ve improved?


    1. Compared to the coverage we used to get when it was left upto the local host directors then yes the overall quality of the F1 broadcasts has improved massively.

      Is it perfect, No. Is it as good as what F1 were producing on the old Digital+ coverage or early days of them running the world feed, No.

      But it is a significant improvement over what we used to have & I still think that on balance F1 does a better job of catching more things on camera than a lot of other categories do.

  7. I can completely see the argument for making the race up to the same distance as all of the others but I am with @davidS above on this. Monaco often ends up with a longer race owing to some incident or another, although this is becoming less common.

    I just think driving around this circuit for 78 laps is probably enough for most drivers. I imagine they must become pretty sick of it by the end and keen for it to finish. I think 92 times around the same demanding circuit is probably enough. Then there are other races which usually finish within a shorter time.

  8. I should have also said it’s enough for many spectators, especially if it’s a race without much chance of an incident by the end.

  9. This is the best F1 news that I have heard all year! Monaco has been hamstrung by poor camera work and production for decades, making it look worse on the broadcast than it actually is. If a race is presented to the audience as a tally of overtakes (like NASCAR), then Monaco fails before the event is run, but with the right coverage, it should frame the current F1 drivers in the best light of their abilities. It truly is a test of skill and nerve, and all it requires is the proper framing to be exciting.

  10. this race should be dropped and the sooner the better. who likes watching single file racing boooring.

  11. If they expand the circuit a bit making the tunnel longer by leaving the hairpin not go to the right to the tunnel but left taking a rondabout right to the tunnel making it several meters longer….

  12. I think it’s a shame that they’ve standardised the Monaco scheduling, it felt a bit special with the Friday gap and all sorts of events going on. Given Las Vegas isn’t following the standard scheduling, it seems a bit weird to force Monaco to fall in line.

  13. There is only one way of making Monaco and all the other “older” tracks more interesting: shrink the cars. How can we think there will be action where we have 2 meters wide, 5 meters long cars in a european city center? Make them 1.6 meters wide, 3.5 meters long and you will have a chance. Even Imola and older tracks have problem with the current behemoths! You want to create overtake opportunities? Make the tracks “wider”, by making cars smaller.

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