Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Monaco, 2023

Monaco land reclamation could offer room to improve track – Horner

2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes the Monaco circuit needs to change in order to allow Formula 1 cars to race on it more successfully.

While F1 cars have got bigger over the years, the Monaco circuit has not, though it has been through various changes. The processional nature of recent F1 races, and the better standard of racing offered by series such as Formula E, has prompted questions over whether the circuit could be altered to create more overtaking opportunities.

Monaco is a tiny country with few roads which it could adapt for use by its famed street circuit. The circuit is the shortest on the calendar and is below the FIA’s minimum length for a grade one, F1-standard track.

The track’s width in some areas is determined by the fact that water lies on the other side of the barriers. The only way the track could get wider is if Monaco built outwards into the sea. This was done in 1986 which allowed the creation of the ‘Nouvelle’ chicane.

Horner said the venue has unique appeal, but wants to see changes made to enhance the racing. “Monaco is Monaco, and it’s here because of its history, its uniqueness,” he told media including RaceFans.

“I think the problem we have is that cars are so big now that all venues have to evolve a little. I think if there was just one area we could create a bit of space for an overtake, it would just give that chance, because there’s so much weight just placed on qualifying. The race is won or lost on Saturday.”

Monaco has expanded further into the sea in recent years. Horner sees potential opportunity there.

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“I’m sure with the creativeness that there is and the amount of land that they’re reclaiming here, there’s got to be the opportunity to squeeze in a bigger braking zone.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Monaco, 2023
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“Maybe make turn one a little sharper or slower or maybe extend the circuit. If there’s an opportunity to add another kilometre in that included a hairpin that would be phenomenal.

“I think that’s something maybe to contemplate when you think of the next 20 years of Monaco, you don’t want to see it left behind.”

However Horner doesn’t think the lack of racing opportunities threatens the future of the race. “It’s part of the history of F1 and I think because of that, it earns its place and it’s the jewel in the crown in many respects.

“But I think that as the sport continues to evolve, nobody can stand still. And I think Monaco is part of that.”

“You’ve got to have half a chance in the race to make a move,” he added. “I think if they could just find a way of maybe slowing turn one or creating an extra little bit of circuit here it would be phenomenal if an overtaking area could be introduced.”

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Monaco did have an alternative, shorter track layout used by Formula E three times before the series with its growing cars switched to a full-length layout that is only subtly different to the one F1 uses.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff echoed Horner’s comments, saying Monaco is “still the most prestigious, glamorous and exciting track in the world.” He said rain late in the race created drama, without which the race itself was “just a spectacle.”

Despite concerns over the quality of the racing, Wolff said there was no sign of waning interest in the race. “This year’s been the biggest that I’ve ever seen,” he said, with increased traffic for paddock members trying to navigate their way in and out of the track.

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2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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37 comments on “Monaco land reclamation could offer room to improve track – Horner”

  1. Yes, Monaco is again getting more artificial landmass beside Portier & tunnel entry, but those are for buildings, so I doubt that’d be an opportunity for a configuration change.
    St. Devote is okay in its present form, & the different route options wouldn’t necessarily provide better racing, i.e., deviating before Massenet until returning before Mirabeau or making a detour before Portier to get a longer full-throttle stretch into the chicane.
    Simply increasing the race distance to the standard 305 km minimum lap amount or even something between 260 & 305, such as 280 or 285, could increase excitement because one-stop would be less guaranteed with higher wear from higher starting fuel loads.
    Here are the minimum lap amounts for different race distance options:
    3.337 x 80 = 266.92 (minimum for 265 full km)
    3.337 x 81 = 270.297 (min for 270)
    3.337 x 83 = 276.971 (min for 275)
    3.337 x 84 = 280.308 (min for 280)
    3.337 x 86 = 286.982 (min for 285)
    3.337 x 87 = 290.319 (min for 290)
    3.337 x 89 = 296.993 (min for 295)
    3.337 x 90 = 300.33 (min for 300)
    3.337 x 92 = 307.44 (min for standard 305)
    At the very least, trying 92 laps would be good to truly find out how easy staying within two hours under normal conditions would be & if tight, they could always revert to 78 for the following season or go for roughly halfway between them as a compromise.

    1. Yellow Baron
      30th May 2023, 17:02

      I agree it would make it extra “special” if it were a longer race to test the drivers even harder. I also believe it’s a must Monaco should have 2 or even better 3 pitstops. Perhaps they should only being 2 tyre compounds the c1 and a new c0

      1. Yellow Baron I’d rather have zero pit stop requirement than two or three as this would generally give more strategic flexibility.
        Additionally, the hardest compounds are pointlessly hard for Monaco, so only the softest three make sense.

    2. @jerejj Maybe the road are a tad wider around the new buildings.. But a slight change can be done by turning left after the hairpin around the roudabout clockwise and then back to the tunnel making it longer for several hundred meters.
      Bypassing the hairpin is not possible anymore as that street ends in a pedestrians street after the Hotel. It seems we are keeping the hairpin untill we stop racing there.

      1. @macleod Seemingly no roads around the new buildings from what I’ve been able to tell over the last number of years that construction has been ongoing & yes, making a detour by turning left before Portier is an option itself & something brought up a lot, but the roads east of Portier are quite narrow, if not even narrower, so not necessarily a recipe for better racing quality, even with a longer full-throttle section into the chicane.

  2. I like Monaco as a track its a real challenge, but maybe a 5.5m long F1 car is just to big. Maybe cutting these behmoths down to a more reasonable size maybe 3.5 – 4.25m might be more fitting if Monaco doesn’t wish to change the layout. I know the extra body work helps with safety and crash protection but does all that equal the larger frame of the car nowadays?

    1. @Ed Smaller dimensions are definitely doable without sacrificing safety features.
      The present dimensions are mainly a result of those 2017 aero changes.

    2. The main reasons the cars are as long as they are aren’t safety related, but aerodynamically and mechanically related.
      More body surface, particularly from length, means more downforce and better aerodynamic performance – coupled with the fact that the engines – sorry, ‘power units’ – now take up about double the space that the older NA engines did, and are far heavier to go with that.

    3. +1 Also the bigger ‘road-relevant’ wheels. Smaller cars would be better on every circuit, Monaco included.
      I’d give Monaco an ultimatum either way: enable two passing points, at least, or bye-bye. A race by definition involves the possibility of getting past a competitor (without having to wait for them to pit or crash).

    4. Not maybe, it’s definitely too big.

      The 2017 regulations were a knee-jerk response to the poor cornering performance of the 2014 spec cars, which went very fast on the straights but struggled (relatively speaking) in the corners. There were other ways to fix this; but as usual F1 fell for the ‘faster is better’ argument, which has pretty much never proven to be true.

  3. – It’s the only track where I know the name of every corner(complex). Let’s not add numbers; names only.
    – I like how the the hairpin defines some of the design parameters. To be a proper F1 car, it needs to be able to navigate the Monaco streets.

  4. Similarly how they use a different aero and engine package in IndyCar for racing ovals, Formula 1 should have a Monaco set-up. Make them use iron brake break discs, or whatever other material, that would make braking distances twice as long. It would facilitate overtaking like nothing else could.

    1. Yellow Baron
      30th May 2023, 17:04

      Perhaps not not that extreme but I think this is a good idea

  5. I’ll preface this by saying that I love Monaco as it is and it’s still one of my favourite weekends of the year, so I’d much rather see it stay as is than do something drastic like get rid of it, design a completely new track elsewhere, or whatever.

    But that said, in my opinion there’s only one realistic good change to make to Monaco, which is to push the Nouvelle Chicane down towards tabac to squeeze an extra ~200m out of what’s already the fastest part of the track. There’s a few “fantasy” ideas out there on the internet about how this would work, my preferred option would be a gentle (basically straight) left kink at the bottom of the hill where the chicane is now, leading to a right-left chicane that then flows in to Tabac (obviously, this would require some land reclamation, but nothing crazy for Monaco). Conceivably this would also allow for a bit of DRS after the tunnel too – it would still be tough but it would be much more possible than now. Tabac’s character would obviously be changed/lost with a much lower approach speed, but I think this would work best with minimal change to the overall character of the track.

    I have one other slightly outrageous idea that doesn’t involve the track at all… Which would be to use a “push to pass” boost mode instead of DRS. Technically speaking I have no idea how they would implement this in F1, but my reasoning is that DRS is only effective at high speeds whereas increased power is effective at low speed too. Given Monaco’s short straights and low speeds, a power boost would really help a following car close up. Also the official line for not having DRS in the tunnel is instability in the kink, given that a power boost wouldn’t have that same problem then it could feasibly be used in the tunnel too…

    1. Personal clarification on technical implementation – I can think of lots of ways it COULD be done (temporary increase to fuel flow limit, increase in turbo boost pressure if that’s normally regulated, extra power allowance from the hybrid system), but doing it in a way that could be monitored properly and also would remain compatible with the existing driveline, without causing unreasonable problems, would be the challenge.

    2. @vmaxmuffin Moving the chicane closer to Tabac is easier said than done, given the limited scope for physical space, so I don’t really see how such a change would work practically, but the push-to-pass suggestion is viable.

      1. Yeah I acknowledged this solution relies on further land reclamation. If land reclamation is on the table it is possible, but without it of course, no way.

    3. why bother with moving the chicane? just get rid of it.. imagine a blast from the tunnel all the way to tabac… would be exciting to see…

      1. I’d love this in theory too, but given that Tabac has no run-off, and no scope for run-off, there’s no way this would ever be allowed. Unless, maybe, land reclamation could be used to move Tabac further up and lead straight to Swimming pool 2.

  6. Monaco is Monaco. It has defeated me. I am beyond caring enough to even discuss the pie-in-the-sky dreams of fixing it. Everything they’ve actually done in the past 30 years has only made it worse.

    1. Improving visibility in the final sector has generally been good, but unfortunately they couldn’t resist also making those sections faster. Monaco is never going to be a good race track at F1 speeds, it never was and never will be.

      It’s a qualifying event, and while that may not be what F1 is supposed to be about, if it’s just one out of 23 races then… fair enough. At least it looks cool to new viewers for whom its a super recognizable event which gives a good reference on how fast F1 cars can be, and it’s also a good challenge for all the tax-dodging locals.

      1. Agreed.

      2. I like the fact that Monaco is a qualifying event, it changes the teams focus and I think makes it extra special on the calendar. I hate tracks were a faster car can come from the back of the field to the front by zooming past cars in DRS zones. It makes qualifying irrelevant. I think Monaco is the only track where multiple teams realistically can have a chance of winning and you get seriously punished for getting it wrong in qualifying. I agree that you don’t want a full calendar of Monaco style events, but I like the fact that it is a different challenge and approach for the drivers, the engineers and teams strategists. To me it is what F1 is all about, create almost impossible constraints and then watch how each team copes.

  7. Archibald Bumfluff
    30th May 2023, 14:02

    how to “fix” Monaco…

    Make the cars smaller.

    There is nothing wrong with the track, Formula E and the junior formulas prove there is plenty of potential for a good race.

    1. @Archibald Bumfluff
      FE & lower single-seaters are a different matter to F1 cars, so largely incomparable in any case.
      Besides, overtaking wasn’t any easier with smaller cars in the distant past, although refuelling made matters worse for a long period, but the same overall story also before & after that era.
      Smaller, lighter cars are definitely easier to drive in a place like Monaco, but overtaking is an entirely different matter.
      Simply nothing can realistically improve overtaking in Monaco, be that car weight, dimensions, tyres, DRS, powertrains, etc.

      1. You’re absolutely wrong. Have you ever watched Historical Monaco GP??
        Weaker brakes have an immense impact on the ability to overtake. Also, lessening aero-downforce by removing the wings would help a whole lot as well.

        1. @asd The general following-ability influenced by aero is secondary in Monaco.
          The track has simply always been too narrow & lacked proper straights for decent overtaking chances.

  8. There is a round-about directly adjacent to the east of the run down to portier. why not use that round-about? will increase the back straight by about 60m. so you would be using existing roads, and the circuit would otherwise remain untouched.

    1. That’s something brought up many times & while the idea itself is good, overtaking wouldn’t necessarily improve into the chicane despite a longer full-throttle stretch, but at least higher top speeds.

  9. *to the north, i believe

  10. Neil (@neilosjames)
    30th May 2023, 18:09

    Left at Rascasse, reclaim about 5m of extra harbourside all the way up to the end of Quai Rainier III, hairpin at the end, back down to Rascasse.

    But that, like most other possible changes, creates the problem of higher speed. Monaco shouldn’t even be on the calendar in its current form (there’s no way it would be accepted if it were a new applicant), but it gets away with it because it’s slow and historic. I don’t really think they could get away with making it faster (and therefore more dangerous), which is probably the reason they haven’t already done something simple like moving the chicane.

    1. Neil (@neilosjames)
      30th May 2023, 18:15

      Left at Rascasse, reclaim about 5m of extra harbourside all the way up to the end of Quai Rainier III, hairpin at the end, back down to Rascasse.

      Forgot to add: Pray your brakes work at Anthony Noghes. But I’m sure someone could lay it out to avoid that particular issue.

  11. Just like F1 has night races, convert Monaco to a wet race.

  12. I like that we’re still calling ‘nouvelle’ 37 years later.

  13. Is Avenue du Port and Rue Grimaldi too narrow?
    Apart from a long circuit, the run down Grimaldi through St. Devote would probably be flat.
    Pit lane reversed with entry off Tabac, exit along the run toward Rascasse ?

  14. The Dolphins
    31st May 2023, 14:08

    While F1 cars have got bigger over the years, the Monaco circuit has not

    This is part of the problem, however when the cars were 1800mm wide the overtaking wasn’t any better.

    Really Monaco should not be an FIA Grade 1 circuit and F1 shouldn’t have to parade around there. Let it be a standalone/national Grand Prix like the Macau Grand Prix or the New Zealand Grand Prix.

Comments are closed.