MONACO (Reuters) – For decades it was a given that Formula One and Monaco were made for each other but times have changed and some now argue that, like the action on the city streets, the showcase race is not moving as fast as others.
There has been plenty of talk about Monaco contributing more to the show, and the Liberty Media-owned sport’s revenues, and reports that it could even be dropped from the calendar next year.
The arrival of brighter and brasher races, with plenty of off-track entertainment for a new generation of fans, has had an effect.
“When a sponsor had to pick out a race on the calendar (to go to), it was ‘Ah, I want to go to Monaco’,” Alfa Romeo principal Frederic Vasseur told Reuters in an interview.
“I’m not sure that now it won’t be ‘I want to go to Miami or Las Vegas or some other event’. It means that even Monaco, they have to follow the move.”
Vasseur, a Frenchman steeped in the sport’s history, said Monaco would always be important but the “historic” races that are part of the fabric could not rest on their laurels.
“I would say from last year, and probably from Zandvoort (the Dutch Grand Prix), we had a big change in terms of the quality of the events. I think that the show ramped up massively, on track and outside of the track also.
“I think every single event has to step up. On every single aspect. It’s probably also true for Monaco. But Monaco is important for F1,” said Vasseur.
“It’s true for all the historical events. If you stay at the same standard, you will be under the waves. F1 is changing drastically.”
McLaren Racing chief executive Zak Brown told Reuters in April that Monaco “needs to come up to the same commercial terms as other grands prix and also maybe needs to work with ways they can adapt their track”.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who on Sunday could become the first Monegasque to win his home race, said dropping Monaco would be a bad move.
“I have never known Monaco without Formula One apart from COVID reasons in 2020, and Formula One without Monaco is not Formula One,” he told reporters.
Formula One is enjoying a “Netflix effect”, with younger fans introduced to the sport through the “Drive to Survive” docu-series and less familiar with the history.
“All the events this year are sold out. Even before COVID it was not like this,” said Vasseur.
“This is due to the show on track, also a bit to Netflix, to different factors. But on every single aspect F1 made a decent step forward.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)