Kurt Verlin
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Hamilton Calls for Changes to ‘Never Exciting’ Monaco Grand Prix

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Nico Rosberg leads Sebastian Vettel at the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix
Nico Rosberg leads Sebastian Vettel at the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix
Photo: United Autosports via CC

There’s a weird thing that happens every year to Formula 1 fans. Every year, as the richest city in the world gets ready to host the Monaco Grand Prix, fans are practically force-fed digests about its glamor, its prestige, its historical significance, and how excited they ought to be about the race.

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But the truth is, the Monaco Grand Prix is virtually always a snooze. The narrow streets have always made it difficult to overtake, but today’s F1 cars are so long and wide that overtaking isn’t just improbable — the lack of it is practicaly a foregone conclusion from the start.

In the past, you might have expected drivers to take bold risks to gain track position, but today’s drivers often resign themselves to coasting around the circuit. Even a two or three-second laptime advantage isn’t enough to make any pass straightforward, and drivers are usually better off holding position, avoiding risks, and hauling in whatever points they can. Trying anything is simply inviting a race-ending crash.

Two years ago, one-time Monaco winner Kimi Räikkönen stated that he no longer liked the race at all, and more recently, just ahead of the 2021 event, three-time winner Lewis Hamilton shared his own displeasure.

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“It is the best venue. It is the most beautiful place that we get to race at. But you already know that it’s never exciting for the fans,” he said. “On the list of difficult places to overtake it is off the scale, highly unlikely you’re ever going to get an opportunity to do so. I don’t think fans enjoy that. I don’t know what the solution is, but I’m hoping when we are looking forward to future generations, it can be a more exciting race for people.”

With these words, Hamilton seemed to call for future changes that could spice up the race for viewers. F1 is currently experimenting with a new sprint race qualifying format, though it won’t be tested at Monaco and arguably wouldn’t do much to boost fan excitement anyway. Without altering the track in a significant way or adjusting the regulations to massively reduce the size of the cars (a change I would dearly love, and not just because of Monaco), it’s hard to see how the annual event in Monte Carlo will ever get more thrilling for those not fortunate enough to attend in person.

“You’re going to just see a train…on Sunday,” Hamilton added — though not without pointing out that despite its flaws, the Monaco Grand Prix remained appealing to him anyway thanks to the location’s unique character.