Lewis Hamilton is right to criticise the Monaco Grand Prix for being boring… Prince Albert has indicated he is open to changing the track, and that opportunity should not be missed.
Back at my digs in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, close to where David Niven lived in a fabulous house nicknamed Cirrhosis by the Sea in its partying heyday, those who had been on yachts to watch the Monaco Grand Prix were mulling over the day’s events.
They were happy but resigned. The gist of their mood was ‘it’s always a boring race here, isn’t it?’ Their compensation was the glamour, the absurdity, the drinks, the fellowship.
It is usually a dull procession in Monaco. A safety car brought about by a smash can enliven proceedings, but, minus that encouragement, Monaco is unsuited to its calling.
It seems ironic that Monaco pays nothing – or next to nothing, depending on whose account you believe – to stage the race. It is a deal unique to the principality because, as Bernie Ecclestone used to say, Monaco gives Formula One more than Formula One gives it. I am not so sure. Nor is Lewis Hamilton, who finished third.
‘We were just cruising around from lap six, literally cruising, so it wasn’t really racing,’ he said. ‘Monaco has got the biggest build-up and it is the most special race of the year, but Formula One needs to apply a different format here.
‘From a racing driver’s point of view, we were never pushing. It was insane how little I was pushing. I was 10 seconds behind, but I was conflicted because in my heart I wanted to win this race, but the team just asked me to bring the car home.
‘What can we do to make this one better? I spoke to Prince Albert the other day and said maybe we should make it longer. There are more roads so maybe we can change this great track and make it even better.
‘You shouldn’t be able to do a one-stop race here. There has to be some mixed-up things. Maybe we need two races?’
As I wrote on Sunday, extra land is being reclaimed as part of a 15-acre expansion costing £2billion. That building work is taking place near the entry to the tunnel and is scheduled for completion by 2025. That opportunity should be seized.
But why wait? There are surely ways to extend and widen as it is, without compromising the essential tightness of the greater part of the track.
The Automobile Club de Monaco have amended the layout before – in the 1970s, largely around the swimming pool and harbour area – but have largely been resistant to change.
Prince Albert, speaking to Forbes, offered a glimmer of hope, saying:
‘We always look, every once in a while, at different possibilities of extending the track, and certainly something to think about is that we are building the new land extension.
‘There are no plans or anything yet; it is just in the back of all of our minds — people in the Automobile Club but also in the government — that there could be.
‘I am not saying that it will happen necessarily, but at some point we are going to put our minds together and say “how can we not only improve this, but how can we make it a little more exciting by maybe changing the course slightly?”
‘We haven’t gone beyond this simple statement of an idea — something that is in the back of our minds. The land extension is going to be six hectares. There are going to be some private areas and some gardens, but there could be room to configure it in such a way that it could accommodate at least a small extension to the track.’
Yes, please. But don’t wait seven years to start the process of improvement.
It was good to see the grid girls (along with ‘grid boys’) back at Monaco in defiance of Liberty Media’s aching political correctness that led them to do away with the tradition at the start of the season.
The ‘grid kids’ are no replacement. They stand at the front of the grid like a kindergarten day out.
Is it too late for Liberty Media to see the light, and, incidentally, allow women who wish to be grid girls to do the job they want?
Daniel Ricciardo’s brilliant win – albeit helped by the lack of overtaking attacks from behind – makes it crucial to Red Bull that he stays.
He is far more reliable than Max Verstappen, who, though he has driven more than 60 races, remains 20 years old. With all the immaturity that implies.
Originally published by Jonathan McEvoy at Daily Mail