The Monaco Grand Prix is the large, expensive, sparkling chandelier on the Formula 1 calendar. It is a sight to behold. People sit on hills, stand on balconies, or rest comfortably on their yachts, just to get a glimpse.
But at the end of the day, behind all the glitz and glamour, the chandelier is still just a light fixture. The Monaco Grand Prix is still a race. Lately, it hasn’t been much of one, thanks to wide cars and narrow streets. That is where crashes, rain, and pit stop chaos are supposed to add drama and mix things up.
Well, there was rain this time. Kind of.
More on that in a second.
1. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
2. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
5. George Russell (Mercedes)
6. Lando Norris (McLaren)
7. Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
8. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
9. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)
10. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)
11. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
12. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
13. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
14. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
15. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
16. Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo)
17. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
18. Alex Albon (Williams) – DNF
19. Mick Schumacher (Haas) – DNF
20. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) – DNF
1. The Rain is Here but the Race is Not
About half an hour before the race, no one seemed to know whether rain was coming or not. And then it started to spit as the band was about to playing the national anthem of Monaco.
Here we go! This is what we live for. Starting a race with light rain, knowing there may come a point where drivers have to come in for wet tyres. But when will they come in? Who will get it right? Who will get caught out in the storm without their rain boots?
The drama was mounting.
And then the start of the race was delayed. Because it was raining. After a couple of formation laps, the session was red flagged, as the rain was coming down quite heavily.
I mean, I get the delay. I do. They wanted to give teams time to react to the weather and run back to the pits to get tyres. I also understand the red flag. The drivers would’ve been driving around a swimming pool the size of your living room.
In the name of safety, they made the right decision.
However, I just want to know if this is the norm going forward. Are races going to be delayed if they suspect there to be heavy rain, 15-20 minutes after the race starts? Are we just going to wait it out?
Because let’s say they started the race on time, when it was only spitting. That would’ve given us about 10-15 minutes of drama in manageable driving conditions. I’m sure some teams would’ve tried to jump the queue and switch to intermediate tyres.
Instead, we didn’t get any of that.
If they started the race on time, only to red flag it 15 minutes later, the three-hour time limit would’ve started. As things ended up, the race didn’t go the full 78 laps. It ended when the clock ran out. So, I guess it could’ve been worse – the race could’ve been shorter.
If it wasn’t Monaco…if it wasn’t a track where the barricades are shaking hands with your side mirror, do they start the race on time? I don’t know. I’d like to know the answer to that.
An hour after the red flag came out, the race finally started. Heavy rain had caused a power outage, which is why everyone sat around in the pit lane for so long.
As a viewer, I’m still on the fence with how I feel about the whole thing. I can’t seem to pick a side.
On one hand, I wanted them to start the race on time and let things play out.
On the other hand, I fully understand the safety aspect and I’m not going to sit here and be mad at that.
So I’m balancing entertainment and safety, which is hard to do because safety should always win out. But man, wet weather races can be so magical and it feels like we were robbed of one.
I guess the hardest thing is having grown up watching a bunch of races that weren’t paused, or delayed, when conditions got tough. I’m sure it probably happened a couple of times, I just don’t remember them.
Instead, we were treated with uncertainty and a variety of pit stop strategies. We were given great performances from Michael Schumacher, who always excelled in the rain.
I just hope we can get that again, while keeping everyone safe, of course.
Late Thought: I wonder how much the budget cap came into play with the decision to delay the start. They might have been doing the teams a huge favour.
2. Stay Dry
As it was starting to rain, the camera panned to a fan holding a pizza box over their head. I really hope if you’re desperate enough to hold a pizza box over your head, that you already ate the pizza.
It would be a shame to sacrifice the pizza, just to keep your hair dry for a few seconds. Because let’s be honest, this person wasn’t going to be holding the box over their head for an hour. Either they had to find cover (somewhere) or they had to live with getting wet.
When it was a red flag for an hour, someone should’ve tracked this person down and asked if there was a soggy pizza in the box.
3. Planet Sushi Is Everywhere
Monaco being a street circuit means there are actually stores, residences, and restaurant along the side of the track. One such restaurant was Planet Sushi. It was on the front straight, right next to the starting grid. You couldn’t miss it. It was right there.
Heck, even when they had the trophy presentation on the podium, Planet Sushi was just underneath it. A quick Twitter search tells me I’m not the only one who noticed its omnipresence. I bet their business has skyrocketed in the days after the race.
4. The Band Must Know Every National Anthem
After every race, they play two national anthems during the podium celebration. The first one is of the race winner’s country. The second anthem is of the winning constructor’s country. Normally, it’s just a recording that plays over the speaker.
Not this weekend, though. Not a Monaco.
It was a band that stood on the grid below the podium and played the anthems.
My immediate thought was, “Wait, this band must’ve had to prepare for every anthem, just in case.” Sure, they could’ve guessed that the race winner would’ve been a driver on Red Bull, Ferrari, or Mercedes, but it’s Monaco and there was rain. Anything could happen at that point.
Were they prepared to play the Canadian anthem if Lance Stroll or Nicholas Latifi found their way to the top step? Now, it did appear that the band members had the sheet music (I don’t know the terminology) attached to their instrument, but still.
I was impressed at the mere thought that they spent hours rehearsing every national anthem, just in case.
Imagine how those rehearsals must’ve gone. I wonder if anyone spoke up and was like, “There’s no chance ____ is winning the race and we’ve practiced this anthem 10 times. For what!?”
Nah, I’m sure they’re professional.
5. No More Monaco?
Admittedly, that’s a click bait heading.
A new contract between the organizers of the Monaco Grand Prix and Formula 1 is needed if there is going to be a race in Monaco next year (and beyond). I think they will eventually come to an agreement.
However, I don’t think F1 can keep going back to Monaco without addressing the elephant on the track. It is impossible to pass. It is the antithesis of a race.
As I said in my last F1 post, at some point all of the new fans are going to catch on that some races are just glorified parades that rely on outside interference (rain, pit stop mishaps, safety car) to make things interesting. At some point, the best race cars in the world are going to have to race.
It is one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world, but is it entertaining?
What did you think of the Monaco Grand Prix and the decision to delay the start? Did you notice Planet Sushi? Do you think the band rehearsed every anthem?
Next Race: Azerbaijan Grand Prix (my personal favourite) on June 12.