January 19, 2022

Monaco Grand Prix Weekend

The flaneur is devoted to walking seemingly aimlessly around the world’s great urban environments, pausing to absorb and maybe note a pithy thought in a leather-bound notebook. He or she might cover less than a mile in an hour. There are though moments when he leaves the serenity of shoe-leather on asphalt and indulges in a sport where a mile can be covered in less than 18 seconds.

There are sports that rarely catch the eye of the true flaneur. But Formula One racing allows the twin delights of observation: people and exquisite design. F1 cars are the ultimate four-wheeled monsters, capable of 220mph, engines revving 18,000 per minute. Criticised as fuel-guzzlers, these cars are where engineers first develop technical wonders that are later seen on road cars driven by the masses. You wouldn’t have SatNav without the US military, Teflon without the space programme and you wouldn’t have buses fitted with energy recovery systems without Formula 1. Energy that would otherwise be wasted is captured under braking and…you need a boffin to tell you what happens next.

Every year there are races at circuits around the world. Many have historic memories entwined with their names – Monza, Silverstone, Spa…but there is one race that all F1 fans would agree is the best of the lot – Monaco.

Monaco is a street circuit, which means exactly what it sounds like. The race takes place on the streets of the small Principality on the Cote d’Azur. As a nod to safety the roads are surrounded by barriers and there are not – unlike the early days – pavements and street lamps for the drivers to contend with. But the course is as narrow and winding as you might imagine, includes a tight hairpin and a tunnel and provides an atmosphere all of its own. Monaco might not provide the best races, might not have the top speeds, might not have the best spectating points, but it is an adrenaline rush around a Mediterranean town where you can walk the track the night before and savour the excitement of the swollen population.

This year the race was won by Mark Webber from pole position. That is often the way at Monaco – the tight circuit prevents all but the bravest overtaking manoeuvres. The race lasted 1hr 46 mins and he won by 0.65 of a second. That’s impressive concentration.

So Monaco is the race to visit if you want to experience motor-racing at its most glam. But Silverstone will provide a great race and is coming up soon, Monza is another historic circuit in Northern Italy that’s worth experiencing. If you are new to the excitement of Speed, it combines well, now and then, with the contemplative life.

1 Comment on Monaco Grand Prix Weekend

  1. I was interested to attend the Monaco GP weekend in 2000. It is hard to believe that was 12 years ago. There was some excitement to be had from watching the F1 cars fly out of the tunnel and approach the swimming pool complex, but it is quite hard to move around the circuit to see what else is going on.

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