Team bosses urge Monaco to evolve
The Monaco Grand Prix needs to evolve and adapt to a changing Formula 1 landscape, according to team bosses.
F1 has descended on the principality this weekend for what is the 80th running of the Monaco Grand Prix.
Over the decades, and certainly since the late 1950s, the event became increasingly more important and synonymous with the sport.
That is despite typically producing subdued races due to the narrow nature of the circuit first raced on in 1929.
Since then, the circuit has changed very little; the addition of the Swimming Pool and La Rascasse the only notable deviations from the circuit first laid out by Antony Noghes.
While it has retained its place on the calendar, a number of team bosses have warned that changes will need to be made to secure its long-term future.
“If anybody came up with this track now and presented it, there’s no way we’d race here,” said Red Bull boss Christian Horner.
“We race here because it’s Monaco, because of the history, the legacy, the backdrop – everything – the glamour.
“Monaco is a crucially important part of the Grand Prix calendar and a hugely valuable one.”
As arguably the sport’s highest-profile event, Monaco is used as a selling point to prospective sponsors, and as a venue to wine and dine existing backers. It’s value to the sport is more commercial than competitive.
But as the F1 enters new markets and embraces a younger demographic, the commercial needs of the sport have changed.
“In the old days, this was the only outstanding circuit compared to the other ones,” reasoned Guenther Steiner, team principal at Haas.
“It was a street circuit in the city and everything. Now we have got a few of them and some good ones.
“Monaco needs to come up with stuff that [make us] want to come back here because there is a lot of alternatives out there.
“There is Vegas coming. We have got Singapore at night. There is a lot of interesting things, which maybe 10 or 15 or 20 years ago weren’t here.”
Formula 1 has entertained interest from a number of new events.
This year’s schedule was initially set to include 24 events, now 22 with the cancellation of the Chinese and Emilia Romagna Grands Prix.
That does not account for traditional events that are absent, such as France or Germany, or prospective new additions willing to pay top dollar.
The increased competition for a spot on the calendar therefore ramps up the pressure on Monaco to deliver more than a glitzy off-track experience, and add value to the sport on race day.
To do that, something needs to change, though opinions as to exactly what differ.
“When you look at the pits now to compared to where they were 10 years ago, or certainly 20 years ago, everything has improved, noted Horner.
“The only thing that hasn’t changed too much, obviously, is the circuit and the cars are so big now that the prospect of an overtake is virtually impossible under normal running conditions.
“So I think, not for the immediacy, but I think for the long-term viability of this venue … You know, nothing stands still forever, everything has to keep evolving.
“It’d be great to look at – was it possible to introduce some genuine overtaking opportunities around the circuit or to adapt the circuit over a period of time.”
James Vowles, team principal at Williams, agrees that the cars are too big and that negatively affects the racing, which was already difficult.
But he also sees the commercial and historical value of the event, and suggests Monaco’s quirks carve it out a unique place on the calendar.
“It provides a completely different experience to say, Miami. That’s a good thing,” he argued.
“I’m not sure we want everything to be exactly the same.
“The only element is to that point: we just need to think about what this looks like in 10 years’ time and what the adaptability needs to be to suit it.”