This year marked my first visit to the Monaco Grand Prix. An event that transcends motorsport as the 'one' F1 event that my mother, the mailman and the dog know about. Admittedly, I was not overly excited about attending the race. I had watched highlights of previous races from the confines of a TV and thought they looked rather dull and processional. But as I reflect on what was a most superb and memorable weekend, my opinion has completely reversed... the Monaco Grand Prix is more than simply a race.
The most prestigious race on the F1 calendar, the Monaco Grand Prix is equal parts beauty, spectacle, glitz and glamour. Politicians, celebrities and general bigwigs flock here in droves to be part of the weekend spectacle. There is no show on earth quite like it, which allows the sport to sell itself to the world better than anywhere else. It is why Monaco is the only race on the calendar which does not pay to host a race.
The Monaco Grand Prix is not the most dynamic race of the season (passing is near impossible, pole position almost always wins), it’s not the fastest (Monza is), and for spectators, it’s tough to see more than a small section of the track. But, it is the crown jewel of F1, and for racing fans and spectators, it is for a weekend in May, a place of unbridled glitz and glamour.
The backdrop is nothing short of spectacular. Monaco, the world's smallest and richest country, is filled with multi-million dollar yachts, models, celebrities and the fastest cars in the world.
We watched the race, with champagne in hand, from the Midi Terrace of the Hotel Hermitage, the most luxuriously beautiful hotel I have ever been to. Our perch had stunning views over the harbour and the track, allowing us to scan the smattering of super-yachts too big to dock in the harbour. We had a superb sit-down lunch in the hotel's beautiful Eiffel Mezzanine before the main event. The race itself was fantastic and those F1 cars sound unfreakin' beliveable! Roaring engines, the smell of rubber in the air and thousands of yards of stanchions and felt rope, coralling in the VIPs.
Yes, the Monaco Grand Prix is ostentatious, pretentious and all the rest. But the ridiculousness of it all, the excess, should surely be enjoyed at least once. And for anyone that wants to dismiss Monaco before they experience it, as I myself did, I implore you make the effort and embrace the whole package.