Paddock Diary: 2023 Monaco Grand Prix

2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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Monaco is always one of the busiest and most glamorous weekends of the Formula 1 season. Claire Cottingham shares her view from the paddock.


Landing in Nice on Wednesday, we had plenty of time to make our way down to Beaulieu-sur-Mer – a beautiful commune in France which is located about 25 minutes from Monte-Carlo.

A sit-down chat with Aston Martin’s Mike Krack was the first order of business, with plenty to talk about following the team’s recent deal with Honda. The windy roads were busy – Thursday is now a normal working day in Monaco which made it slightly harder to navigate the small roads to the hotel before making our way to the media centre.

The surroundings are breath-taking. I walked past the ocean on my right heading away from the underground car park, noting the countless boats in the marina as I made my way down the three flights of steps to the paddock.

The logistics at this track are always a talking point for those in the sport, and many have a love/hate relationship with Monaco due to the cramped nature of the layout. For me, I love it and all its unique quirks.

Media sessions on a Thursday often clash as many schedule their drivers and team principals at similar times. I waited at Aston Martin, spending a few moments taking in the view of the harbour from the top of the motorhome. During the session, though listening closely, I became distracted by Krack’s socks, which were the exact greenness of his shirt and his trousers. To me it felt like an overkill, so after the session, I asked if his socks were mandatory. I’m not quite sure how, but the conversation led to Krack offering me some of his socks. Never one to turn down a freebie I agreed, laughing as I moved on.

I had a busy day of exclusive interviews with two drivers on the grid and one who is keen to rejoin them – Daniel Ricciardo. Keep an eye out for the latter on RaceFans this Wednesday.

Logan Sargeant, Williams, Monaco, 2023

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After speaking to Oscar Piastri and Alexander Albon I headed to Red Bull’s giant floating motorhome to meet Ricciardo. Written media are strictly not allowed on unless by invitation so it’s always exciting when you get the opportunity.

Ricciardo had just finished another interview when he came and sat down with me, making an effort to make sure I knew I didn’t have to come to his table. As he sat down he spotted the voice notes labelled on my phone. “‘Albon Ex.’ – have you been speaking to Alex’s ex-girlfriend?” He joked. “That IS an exclusive…”

In the evening I was invited by Aston Martin for a small dinner and chat with Krack. For some reason, I came away from the dinner not only agreeing to now wearing the green socks at an event but actually shook hands on the fact I had to wear them for an entire day in Barcelona. We ended the evening on a yacht in true Monte-Carlo style, despite tripping on the gangplank and nearly falling over, before a short journey back to base.


An early start in Monaco is one of the easiest alarms on the calendar. I had an early chat with James Vowles, someone I had yet to meet with since he took over at Williams in February. Walking into the motorhome he immediately stood up and extended his hand. I shook it and sat down. We spoke for around 10 minutes not only about his plans for the future at Williams – read more on that here – but also his love of racing in the GT3 championship and the Asian Le Mans series.

First practice was up next, so I donned a tabard and got my walking shoes on ready to brave the cacophony of noise that is Monaco’s distinctive tunnel. Watching the cars trackside in Monaco is mind-blowing, and even though I did it last year, the impact was exactly the same. This time I explored a little further and made my way to the hairpin. In second practice I went further and explored Casino Square before retiring back to the media centre for some much-needed water, the pedometer now reading 21,000 steps.

A Qatar event in the evening meant I got my second go at getting on a yacht without falling over, not helped by a mischievous colleague bouncing the plank behind me.

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Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Monaco, 2023

Saturday’s journey in was somewhat of a nightmare. Stuck just outside the principality in a traffic jam for half an hour, we were met with very aggressive Monegasque police shouting at us to turn right away from Monaco, despite clear F1 signs we were to turn left towards the media centre. After trying to explain calmly we were media and therefore needed to turn left, another man joined and shouted even louder than the first, his gun clearly pointing out.

Deciding they must have a good idea of where the traffic flow is going, we followed the command, which lead us back to the same spot three times. Patience began to wear very thin. Eventually, we managed to squeeze past the shouting police and join the queue we needed. The whole fiasco was stress-inducing and a colossal waste of time.

I decided against heading out trackside for final practice. The trackside experience is amazing, but you can miss out on important key information and I wanted to be across all information ahead of qualifying.

Qualifying was a thriller and despite feeling like a sardine in our media pen, which is significantly smaller than many other media setups, the sessions went without a hitch.

Leaving the track late and finding ourselves lost up a mountain thanks to my colleague Edd Straw’s questionable sat nav skills, we got back just in time for some food at 11pm.

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After learning our lessons the day before, and with early morning tech talks scheduled with three of the teams, we left with plenty of time to spare on race day.

I took the opportunity to call home and show my three-and-a-half-year-old niece the paddock. Walking about and showing her the boats, I realised the Aston Martin motorhome was so reflective I could show her the marina backdrop as well as me waving at her through the reflection if I spun my camera around non-forward facing.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Monaco, 2023Waving at the reflection, I suddenly realised I could see some pearly white teeth gleaming through, and as I edged forward I realised it was Krack having a coffee meeting with Tom McCullough, amused by my actions. Laughing, I walked into the motorhome and introduced my niece to the pair. If only she knew how special that moment is, but instead she stated “he waved to me! They’re wearing green.” Oh to be that innocent.

Although pre-race forecasts indicated it was likely to stay dry, the local atmosphere served up a surprise which nearly turned the race on its head. Max Verstappen produced a remarkable display of skill to keep his medium compound tyres alive until the rain became so heavy he had to take intermediates.

After the race, the rain returned and I nabbed an umbrella from F1 in the media pen. The drivers came and went, with Lewis Hamilton the last we spoke to as usual. Leaving shortly after I saw him hop onto a boat and make the short journey across the Marina to his home. A quick commute for the seven-time world champion.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Monaco, 2023

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2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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Author information

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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3 comments on “Paddock Diary: 2023 Monaco Grand Prix”

  1. Thank you.

    We need a photo of that green socks or did not happen. ;-)

  2. Neil (@neilosjames)
    30th May 2023, 23:03

    Look forward to these articles, tiny bit jealous but always a great read.

  3. Cheers Claire. 👌

Comments are closed.