Monaco Grand Prix: Five radical ideas to make F1’s iconic race great again

Monaco's future in Formula 1 has been called into question, but there are several possible changes that could save F1's most iconic venue

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Everyone agrees the Monaco Grand Prix is sacred, unique and simply cannot be forced off the F1 calendar. The glamour and glitz is unrivalled, the luxury on another scale. But this is where racing tradition was truly birthed – yet nothing has been done to protect it from possible extinction. Lewis Hamilton is one driver to address it before the 2024 race.

It begs the question: why can’t Monaco separate itself from the rest? IndyCar’s main event is the annual Indy500, then there’s the 24 Hours of Le Mans race for the World Endurance Cars Championship. As the third prong of the ‘Triple Crown’, it is high time the Monaco GP received its own special status.

The FIA needs to enforce a special caveat to ensure that it’s one of the most enjoyable races on the calendar, and not one of the most boring. F1’s technological advancements should not come at the expense of decades of tradition, but equally, there needs to be a change – or several – to improve the current offering for the new audience.

This is by no means a ringing endorsement for a certain former United States president, but we need to make Monaco great again. With that in mind, Total-Motorsport.com has five radical ideas that could rejuvenate F1’s most iconic venue.

Kevin Magnussen in action at the Monaco GP | Simon Galloway / LAT Images
Kevin Magnussen in action at the Monaco GP | Simon Galloway / LAT Images

A one-off tyre

Maximum grip plus minimum tyre life equals chaos. That’s an equation every F1 fan would relish, and arguably the easiest solution to Monaco’s problems is to heighten the jeopardy with a special one-off Monaco edition tyre.

As recently as 2018, Pirelli designed ‘hyper soft’ tyres that were marked with a pink stripe on the inner lining of the rubber. Teams used them in qualifying to maximise their pace, but they didn’t last much longer. Even the ‘ultra soft’, which had a purple mark, were deemed to have high degradation and weren’t used an awful lot. But maybe, just for Monaco, one of these compounds could be brought back to life.

This is actually an idea I’ve had for the past two years and it’s also one that Lewis Hamilton floated in the drivers’ press conference ahead of this weekend’s race: “It’s a one-stop race, so I would say maybe having special tyres for this race – so you have more pit stops – would create more variability,” Hamilton told the written media in Monaco.

Not only would it ensure the drivers can throw their cars around the circuit – and potentially into the unforgiving barriers, it also guarantees the drivers are able to perform at their optimum level and avoid tyre-saving, a buzzword that makes me sick to my stomach. If you win after four pit stops, the chances are that you deserved it.

Pirelli's soft, medium and hard tyres | Total Motorsport
Pirelli’s soft, medium and hard tyres | Total Motorsport

More laps

By far the easiest solution without really changing that much, F1 bosses should consider breaking its rule for Monaco on the total race distance.

The Monaco GP is the shortest circuit on the calendar and if all 78 laps are completed at the expected lap times, there would still be time for more race action. In the 2021 race, there was enough time for another 13 laps to bring the race up to the same 305km distance as the others.

Of course, there are other factors to bring into play. If there is a red flag or multiple safety cars, the maximum two-hour limit comes into force and it would bring the number of laps back down. And having more laps might actually harm the chances of an Alex Albon or Lance Stroll winning the race, because it would give the bigger teams more time to turn things around.

But surely, it can’t be any worse than offering double points for a race like in Abu Dhabi. Let’s give it a go in 2025.

Widen the track

Nyck de Vries of AlphaTauri, leads Kevin Magnussen of Haas, and Valtteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo during 2023 Monaco GP practice | Sam Bagnall / LAT Images
The Fairmont Hairpin is one of the tighest corners in F1. | Sam Bagnall / LAT Images

It would be costly and complex, but making alterations to the track layout would protect Monaco from being squeezed out of the F1, the pinnacle of motor racing. Without Monaco, F1 is nothing and vice versa.

The Principality relies heavily on the weekend for its tourism, and F1 fans love indulging in the opulent Monaco lifestyle for one weekend a year. The drivers can literally walk down the road from their swanky apartments to the paddock.

If it is architecturally possible to alter some of the road layouts or widen the track, where is the downside? Of course, the cost would be tens of millions, maybe even hundreds. But F1 is a multi-billion dollar industry – and to spend a fraction of their income on preserving Monaco should be a no-brainer.

Points for qualifying

Every driver says Saturday is just as important, or more so, as Sunday’s race in Monaco. If that’s the case, points should be awarded to those who qualify at the front.

If it is truly a case of driver skill – in terms of staying out of the barriers, finding the optimum braking points and maximising pace on such a tight circuit – those performances should be rewarded.

Many would ask what that means for the race, and my answer would be: leave it as it is. If qualifying is the real draw at Monte Carlo, give it more prominence if nothing can be done to make the race better. As we’ve seen with sprint races, it means more with points on the table.

The only improvement that can ensure qualifying than it is currently is by handing out points for all 20 drivers, or maybe the top 15. That way, there’s something to play for and the drivers will keep coming out of the pits to do their lap times in a bid to improve. More action on the track for fans, a potential increase in drama… what’s not to love?

Reverse grid

Could the backmarkers start at the front in future Monaco races? | Sauber

This is not a solution for the F1 world championship but for Monaco only. Would it be better to see Max Verstappen making his way through the pack from 19th on the grid than watching Kevin Magnussen or Logan Sargeant a lap down? Absolutely.

The drivers enjoy racing in clean air, but they also love an opportunity to show their ability in overtaking. There is nothing more fun than making your way through the field, an a mixed up grid would give us the chance to see it in action.

Remember that Hamilton drive in Brazil back in 2021, when he went last to fifth in the Sprint and from 10th to first in the race? He still remembers it as the most special race in his entire career. If Verstappen pulled a similar drive off around Monaco, he might feel the same.

If you qualify on pole, you get the points and start at the back of the grid. Would there be some complaints? Of course there would be, you can’t satisfy everyone. But let’s face it: the prospect of Zhou Guanyu leading the cars into Saint Devote would be something truly unforgettable.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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