The Monaco Grand Prix is Formula 1’s crown jewel, arguably the most famous race of them all, and one man who should know – Fernando Alonso – who has been at all the big ones says there is nothing like it.
Formula invades the picture-book principality that cascades down a mountain glittering into one of the most beautiful of Cote D’Azure coves like a champagne rivulet and the most unlikely setting for a Grad Prix.
This weekend the narrow, sleepy streets of Monte-Carlo will turn into a cacophony of sound and colour, hosting round five of the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship again, after a year off the calendar due to a COVID-19 enforced hiatus.
Alpine veteran Alonso also returns, the Spaniard back in F1 after a period in which he sampled the world’s greatest races first hand. He led the Indy 500, twice won the Le Mans 24 Hours, won Daytona 24 Hours as well as a host of major endurance races and, last but not least, raced the Dakar.
39-year-old Alonso knows what he is talking about when he said ahead of this year’s Monaco Grand Prix: “There really isn’t a race like it and I’m looking forward to being there again this weekend.
“I’ve had two wins at Monaco in Formula 1 and I enjoy the strategic element of Sundays here. Qualifying will be very important, just as it was in Spain, so we need to work on maximising our one lap potential to make sure both cars do well on Saturday.
“Traffic management will also be key here. I’m looking forward to getting back to business this weekend. It’s a very challenging circuit and with the barriers either side of you for the entire lap is a constant reminder you can’t make a mistake.
“You have to concentrate so hard for the entire race distance. But this is what we live for as a Formula 1 driver and I enjoy that thrill you have with the sharp turns and bumps at every corner,” added Alonso who will start his 316th Grand Prix start on Sunday when he lines up on the grid in Monaco.
While odds are Alonso will not be adding to his two famous wins at the venue this year, but never say never at a race peppered with a history of surprises.
Alonso won it back to back in 2006 with Renault and a year later with McLaren where his teammate was Lewis Hamilton; that day the Briton had no answer for the Spaniard who beat him by four and a bit seconds.