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Formula 1

Las Vegas success shows F1 no longer needs Monaco

by Glenn Freeman
3 min read

Formula 1 has been trying to land a race in Las Vegas for decades, and now it’s pulled it off successfully. We even got an entertaining grand prix out of it, too.

So, assuming the commercial benefit to F1 is as big as it was supposed to be, have we just found a modern-day Monaco GP - and one that’s fit for 21st century F1 purposes?

Monaco’s race has been a non-existent on-track spectacle for a long, long time. But it always held onto its spot thanks to its history, a vague ‘jewel in the crown’ status, and its commercial value to F1.

The traditional line that was trotted out was that the Monaco GP week was where sponsorship deals got done, and where existing sponsors were made to feel like heroes, locking in their support for longer.

But people who have their fingers on F1’s commercial pulse have claimed in recent years that Monaco wasn’t really providing that anymore.

Sure, sponsors might like being wined and dined on yachts, but the business world has moved on, and deals don’t take place with handshakes in the harbour now.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, F1, Monaco GP

If the commercial world has finally moved on, it’s fair to say the sporting world did so a long time ago.

F1 outgrew the streets of Monte Carlo decades ago. It’s a well-worn view that the Monaco GP would never happen today if someone came up with it as a new idea.

But is the fact that it’s been around forever enough of a reason to keep it?

Taking in the Las Vegas Grand Prix, it felt like F1 has come up with a modern-day Monaco alternative. It’s an event in the heart of a bustling area awash with money, and every team was talking up the commercial benefit to being there. Just like they used to with Monaco.

To some, the idea that Monaco’s place on the F1 calendar should be vulnerable at all is sacrilege. Taking it away would be to rip a hole in the fabric of what F1 should be about, and the suggestion that gaudy Las Vegas could fill its place is unthinkable.

Las Vegas GP, F1

And perhaps if any race should feel at threat because of the success of Las Vegas, it should be Miami. That was over-hyped too, and is yet to produce much on-track action of note. Many of the pre-event fears about Las Vegas failing to live up to F1’s billing were based on the recent experience we’ve all had of Miami being a total letdown. I wouldn’t keep Miami. But the Las Vegas-Monaco comparison feels more direct.

The world moves fast, and not everything can keep up. Sure, when you get to Monaco, you can feel the history. The first time I went there in 2011, on arrival I walked the entire lap while the roads were open to traffic. I reminded myself of the classic moments (there have been some, at least) from my childhood, and I had goosebumps.

None of that gets us past the fact that the race is pointless. Unless it rains or something else weird happens, the cars will drive around in the order they start, with zero chance to pass.

Monaco GP, F1

Overtaking doesn’t need to be easy, but it needs to be possible. And in Monaco, it isn’t. Unless you’re talking about the Formula E race.

Time moves on. We outgrow things we love and we leave them in the past, where they belong.

That’s Monaco’s place now. I adore F1’s history, and appreciate Monaco’s part in that. But that’s not enough of a reason to keep it on F1’s ever-expanding calendar.

Las Vegas ticks the boxes that Monaco no longer can.

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