what if the Monaco GP were to disappear from the calendar?

Unspectacular on Sunday, competitive with other destinations and not profitable enough for F1, the legendary Monaco Grand Prix, whose 73rd edition is scheduled for Sunday, May 29, is at the end of his contract.

The yachts in the harbor in the immediate vicinity of the circuit, the spectators at the windows overlooking the finish line, the celebrities in the paddock, the single-seaters grazing on the barriers of the track, the imperfections of the asphalt that remind us that the traffic car is open on the track for the rest of the year… The Monaco Grand Prix, scheduled for next Sunday, is always a special meeting in Formula 1. Contrary to tradition, the race weekend takes place this year (73rd edition) don’t start on Thursday, but on Friday (like everywhere). Should this be seen as a bad omen? Because this 2022 edition marks the end of the contract that binds the Principality to F1.

According to The team, ongoing negotiations are underway to discuss a new three- or five-year contract. “We have until the end of the year to finish. (…) I think we will succeed. In fact, I am sure,” said Prince Albert II of Monaco in the columns of the daily.

Almost impossible to catch up

While the Monaco GP is undoubtedly the best known and most prestigious of the year, it often turns out to be the least entertaining GP of the season for viewers. With the tight barriers and very tight corners, the very specific layout makes overtaking almost impossible in the race (except pit stops). Especially because the single-seaters are becoming wider and longer.

The driving performance is of course exceptional. The challenge is a lot of fun for the drivers, who like to push their limits, especially during qualifying. Ayrton Senna’s built-in cameras, in 1988 and 1990, are a treat for any amateur of the discipline. But at a time when F1 decision-makers are constantly looking for solutions (changes to the technical regulations) to make the races more exciting, Sunday’s spectacle proves woefully inadequate. To make matters worse, the TV production, which is managed exclusively by the Automobile Club de Monaco, has been the subject of recurring criticism.

Monaco has competition

The GP’s shortcomings are all the more of a problem for those who feel there are far too many races on the schedule now. This year, the paddock will move across 22 tracks (23 were initially planned, before the cancellation of the Russian GP due to the war in Ukraine). Twenty years ago, the calendar was limited to 17 laps.

Also, the particulars that have long been specific to Monaco are today disputed by other circuits. For the urban and sleek layout, Singapore, Baku and Jeddah are credible alternatives. For rhinestones and sequins there is now Miami and soon Las Vegas. For the historic side, Monza, Spa-Francorchamps and Silverstone still exist.

‘Monaco is very special, there is a story behind it’

In fact, it is no doubt thanks to this last point that the Monaco GP, which has been on the calendar since F1’s inception in 1950, still seems protected today. “I don’t think you can replace Monaco,” world champion Max Verstappen said recently. “Monaco has such a history, and of course it takes time to write it. (…) It’s also a different culture, which is good to have, because it would be very boring to drive all the time on places with the same culture,” he said as reported by motorsport† The story is the same with Esteban Ocon: “Monaco is incredibly special, there’s a story behind it and it’s a way of driving that you won’t find anywhere else”. Ditto for Pierre Gasly: ​​”It would be a bit of a shock if Monaco were removed from the calendar. (…) Spa and Monaco, these are my two favorite circuits. I think they are part of history and of Formula 1 DNA and that they should be on the calendar every year.”

Before the organization of the Monaco GP in 2023, the prince acknowledged that the agreement with American promoter Liberty Media could not be concluded “under the conditions of the past”. “We will have to work with Liberty and F1, see how we can constantly adapt, improve the circuit and infrastructure to always be efficient and always be able to best accommodate F1 and the other ancillary events in good conditions,” he added.

All thinking about the Rock is also a big money thing. According to the British press, Monaco pays around 14 million euros a year to host F1. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has to pay 50. It is very likely that the bill will rise with the new contract. The price to pay to remain the most prestigious race in motorsport’s queen discipline?