The Monaco GP of 2018
It's May, and it's time to imagine getting up, putting on a huge white fluffy robe and shuffling into our Gucci loafers to the balcony of our fabulous apartment to enjoy the sun and a leisurely breakfast, sipping fresh orange juice while looking out across an azure sea and sky...but wait, what is that approaching din? Ahhhh, it must be that time of year again when the comparative peace of the principality is shattered by the return of the F1 circus.
Yes, kids, it's the build up to the Monaco GP. I was going to say how it can also probably be considered a build up to the seemingly inevitable conversation afterwards about why is this race still going when it is so processional AAARGH? but I see that this year that conversation is, with brutal efficiency, heralding the event instead. Don't get sucked into all that gloom because a) you make your own fun and b) Monaco is about so much more than the actual racing on the Sunday. Unique in that it (supposedly) pays no hosting fee, Monaco earns its place as the blue ribbon event in other ways. For one, it's about the qualifying day. No other race will ever be allowed to race cars around such an unforgiving track. For those of us who gloomily reflect how the design of the modern car has in some ways levelled drivers up, Monaco, like rain, seems to highlight talent... and mistakes. It also brings with it a stack of ever so faintly seedy glamour which is why Somerset Maugham's quote about sunny place for shady people still gets trotted out (see, now I'm doing it too.)
It's exotic for us, but I guess the drivers have to make more of an effort to find it so because most of them live here, many all in the same block of flats, which always sounds a bit like a council block although presumably one with a lift that doesn't smell of wee. Monaco is also the more literal home race of wonderkid Charles Leclerc.
Monaco was the last holdout against FOM's horrible plastic podiums and even more horrible plastic gameshow looking flags. Instead, for many years, the winners received their prizes from the prince and his glum looking wife on some steps, and therefore the whole thing always vaguely looked like a wedding party posing for champagne and photos on the Registry office steps:
A small but pleasing bit of tradition has sadly been erased.
Monaco's greatest hits
For all people moan about the race being dull, a look back through history of the race and several notable things spring to mind
- Ascari crashing into the harbour. As a kid I was always vaguely concerned this might one day somehow happen. Didn't know then it wasn't just a theoretical possibility.
- Mr Monaco himself, Graham Hill. Here describing how it feels to drive it.
- 1982 and the race finish described by James Hunt thus: "Well, we've got this ridiculous situation where we're all sitting by the start-finish line waiting for a winner to come past, and we don't seem to be getting one!" Patrese blinked first and took the race win that seemingly no-one wanted.
- The 1992 duel between Senna and Mansell.
- Keke Rosberg winning in 1983 with horrifyingly blistered hands.
- Ayrton Senna and Stefan Bellof having storming Monaco debuts in 1984 in the wet.
- Ayrton Senna and his mystical experiences during the 1988 qualifying and more prosaic ones during the race the next day, crashing from the lead.
- Ayrton flying here in 1990:
- Only three (three!) cars finishing the race in 1996.
- Michael Schumacher being found guilty deliberately of messing up his qualifying to bring out yellow flags and therefore stopping Alonso beating his time.
- Fernando Alonso threatening to lie down before the cars at the race start like Arthur Dent protesting a bypass if the above wasn't punished.
- Nico Rosberg later being found not guilty of doing the same thing to Lewis Hamilton in 2014.
- Kimi breaking the heart of Adrian Sutil by crashing him out of a podium place in 2008.
- More positively from Michael, the scene of his last pole position winning time in 2012 even if a grid penalty meant he didn't get to keep it. Also this from 1996.
- Many more things I've forgotten. Why not add more in the thread?
Lewis Hamilton and Monaco - a semi-requited love affair
Lewis loves the Monaco GP but it hasn't always loved him back. It was at Monaco 2007 where the first big cracks in the Mclaren driver line up appeared and like Ricciardo and Raikkonen, he knows what it is to have to stand on the podium (or steps) with steam coming out the ears while another driver's national anthem plays because a seemingly sure win has vanished into the long grass. And of course, he also casually dropped an atomic bomb of an answer here back in 2011 when asked why did he think he was getting penalised so often after a mare of a race. Has also won the thing twice (as have Vettel and Alonso) so his affections aren't totally spurned.
Monaco is not usually run at that fast a pace and doesn't need to be because overtaking is so hard. (Expect to hear a lot of people smugly saying how track position is king next weekend. Also about bikes ridden around living rooms.) This means you are going to have lots of time to check out the scenery. Pleasingly, just about every bit of the track is named. You can also follow it on google maps!
Last year's race highlights:
Tyres Tyres Tyres
This race brings with it those pale pink even softer soft soft softs. Hypersofts. Getting silly now, Pirelli.
As befitting the magical Monaco specialness, the drivers generally come up with special crash helmets. (One year, Vettel put a pic of a pinup lady whose clothes disappeared when surface got hot, the rascal. I once saw a biro bought back from Vegas where you turned the pen upside down, and, well he'd love it.)
I am sure Gintonious will also be all over this in the thread about driver crash helmets. I liked that one Lewis did that time that had a drawing of Nicole and Roscoe on the back.
When is this happening?
An hour later than it should!
Uniquely on the calendar, free practice is on Thursdays for reasons that get forgotten each and every year, despite an indepth investigation from Sniff Petrol. Market day or something, I don't care.
Be there and guess which of the drivers is going to be the first to get closer to the barriers than they really meant to!