Formula 1 packed up after Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix with no certainty it would be back there next year, but offering plenty of advice on what needs to be done for a new race contract to be agreed.
The sport has no shortage of venues clamouring for inclusion and is taking a close look at a calendar that could expand to 24 rounds.
Miami made its debut this year, Las Vegas is entering in 2023 when Qatar returns as a fourth Middle Eastern round, and night races in Saudi Arabia and Singapore also add to the spectacle.
Some feel Monaco, part of Formula 1’s historic fabric, is in danger of being left behind. There has been talk of it becoming biennial, or being dropped entirely.
Local organisers have played down the threat but F1 boss Stefano Domenicali, a man steeped in the sport’s history as a former Ferrari team principal, has indicated things have to change.
Monaco changes are being called for
The sense within the sport is that Monaco must make concessions, offer a better show and contribute more to the coffers.
The racing is invariably processional, with overtaking as rare as cut-price grandstand tickets or cheap hotel rooms in Monte Carlo.
The television coverage, organised locally, is regularly criticized while Monaco’s sponsorship with watchmaker Tag Heuer clashes with Formula 1’s deal with Rolex.
Monaco also pays substantially less than other races in hosting fees.
“I’m biased. I live here, I love the city. I think what Monaco has to offer is spectacular,” said Mercedes team boss and co-owner Toto Wolff before Sunday’s race.
“We have the support of the prince and Formula 1 is important for Monaco and Monaco is important for Formula 1 ,” added the Austrian, before qualifying his words.
“Monaco has to embrace the new realities of what the sport stands for today, and the impact it has on the world, and at the same time Monaco will always be respected within the Formula 1 community as something that is special. But no-one should take things for granted.”
After Mercedes’ seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton started and finished eighth on Sunday, unable to pass Fernando Alonso’s slower Alpine, Wolff spoke again.
“We need to look at this circuit layout, so people can’t drive round five seconds off the pace in a procession,” he said. “This is a fantastic venue and spectacle, but it would be great if the racing could be at the same level.” (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)