Formula 1 and IndyCar are the two top open wheel championships in the motorsport world. Although they differ enough to discourage comparisons that try to determine which series is better, IndyCar can learn a lot from Formula 1. And so too can Formula 1 learn a lot from IndyCar. I bring this up because this week, the FIA released next year’s Formula 1 calendar and the announcement that the Monaco Grand Prix would stay on the calendar for the next three years. Honestly, the Monaco GP and Formula 1 shouldn’t be in a position to question the future of one of the most historic races. It’s absurd. Which is why these next three years are going to be crucial as the Monaco GP continues to be up for debate.
The Monaco Grand Prix has been around and held around the streets of the Monte Carlo harbour since 1929. It is one of the longest ongoing motorsport events and is part of the triple crown (Indianapolis 500, 24 Hours of Le Mans and Monaco Grand Prix). It is no doubt a crown jewel of a race. It should be the most important race in Formula 1. If you can’t win the championship, you at least should want to win at Monaco. This is just how the Indy 500, Le Mans 24 Hours and Daytona 500 are seen by competitors: a special single race that immediately plants your name in the history books alongside many other racing legends. Yet the prestige of winning at Monaco has dwindled. There is no song and dance or magnified anticipation for this special race. Despite its long history and challenging racetrack, the Monaco GP feels like any normal Formula 1 race. It is even met often with pessimism from fans. That’s why Formula 1 needs to make sure the Monaco Grand Prix is not only seen as a crown jewel of motorsport but becomes one as well.
Formula 1 needs to take a page out of IndyCar’s book. The Indianapolis 500 follows weeks of anticipation with plenty of media coverage hyping up the race and looking back at its long and spectacular history, a parade through downtown Indianapolis and lots of track time. The festivities before the infamous call to start engines create an atmosphere like nothing else. This is what Formula 1 should aim for with Monaco. The good thing is my first point about looking back at legends and the races history is already done with the Monaco Historic Grand Prix a of couple weeks before... a feature of classic Formula 1 cars blazing around the principality once more. Yet it seems very detached from the actual FIA sanctioned Monaco GP and as far as I know Formula 1 doesn’t cover this event in its media coverage even though it is the perfect opportunity to enthrall and hype up fans for the race. The only reason the event made it in the news this year was because Charles Leclerc had a brake failure whilst driving Niki Lauda’s 1974 Ferrari. And the only reason I knew of this event was thanks to photographers Matty White and Tom Shaxson on Instagram.
The common opinion of Monaco is that it is a boring race, because of how difficult it is to overtake, and yes, this is very true. This year’s race saw a hilarious train of cars circulating the track unable to pass one another. However, Monaco has produced some bonkers races and unpredictable moments in previous Formula 1 seasons. Red Bull forgetting to get the tyres ready for Ricciardo, causing him to lose the race he was dominating, then getting redemption two years later with only 75% engine power is a fairy tale story. Monaco produced a race full of carnage in 1996 as only three cars finished. It has produced surprising race winners such as Oliver Panis and Jarno Trulli. And there is often carnage at the first corner as drivers attempt heroics into Sainte Devote.
Monaco pretty much was where the legend of Ayrton Senna was created, with his charge to second in the slow Toleman, six further wins at the track (a record) and his qualifying lap in 1990 that would be known as one of the greatest laps in F1 history. He would also hold off Nigel Mansell in the superiorly quick Williams in 1992. Monaco can produce great races, just like any other track. Yet also like any other track, it will have its dull ones too. But like I’ve said before, that is what makes the fantastic races even more special.
I also believe that people forget how much they actually enjoy seeing Formula 1 cars fly around this tight and twisty circuit. Around the time of the Grand Prix every year, I see multiple posts and videos of how close these drivers get to the walls around Monaco, with comments in awe of the driving talent on display. Monaco Grand Prix qualifying is also the best qualifying session of the year, because seeing drivers push their cars to the limit on this unforgiving circuit is a wonder to behold. And that is also what I think fans forget too. The appeal of motorsport isn’t just when exciting racing occurs but also seeing the most technological advanced motor vehicles being hustled around by talented drivers.
Ever since motorsport began in France back in 1895, that was the main appeal. And the Monaco Grand Prix provides just that! 1.6 million people tuned in to watch this year’s Monaco Grand Prix, the second largest in the race's long history, despite the rain delay and the stewards having one of their brain farts again. It is an anomaly in the modern motorsport world, and we are extremely lucky that this bonkers racetrack is still around today, in a world where new tracks have miles of carpark like run-off and smooth asphalt rather than gravel traps and armco barriers.
Formula 1 has rapidly grown in the past few years thanks to Liberty Media and the ‘Drive to Survive’ Netflix series. Now is the perfect time to share and make the Monaco Grand Prix a serious and fantastic race with an amazing atmosphere and a much larger media coverage. Formula 1 are already working on making the cars smaller and easier to pass, which is the main problem the Monaco GP faces. New regulations will be applied for the 2026 season. That is why the time is now for Formula 1 to make the Monaco Grand Prix a crown jewel of motorsport, just like it was and should always be, to be ready for the better cars and hopefully better races.