Monaco is a very cool place, and I’d like to see it at a time other than the Grand Prix weekend… Oh wait, there is no other reason I would go there. That statement is certainly not true, but the GP was very much a high point. The crowd is huge, the atmosphere is intense and from our vantage point in the trees the noise is amazing.
Before getting to the noise I will say that we got to watch 3 races on Sunday. The first was the Porsche Supercup, a 16 lap sprint of heavier cars with smaller power. Up next was Renault Formula 3.5, open wheeled quick cars with a big noisy turbo charged v8. After the rubber was laid and the track was made nice for the F1 race on came the most powerful of the bunch and the technically superior v6 turbos hit the course. After hearing the big V8s with a very cool sounding anti-lag system the F1 cars were quiet. But even with the decibel difference between the F1 and F3.5 cars the noise the F1 cars made commanded attention. It was more like a symphony of sound, a technical masterpiece that couldn’t be rivalled by the chaotic noise of the cars before. It was a beautiful and memorable sound, and one that could only be made by perfect harmony of old combustion meets new electronics. Bottom line, I understand the want for loud but seriously people, listen to the cars!
The day started off right, we got there very early and got an amazing spot on the hill, check out the view:
Once our set up was complete we took turns going for a quick shop on a few random outlet streets that vendors had their wares. The Porsche Cup started at 9:45 and was a fun quick race. It was neat to see a well driven safety car be able to almost keep up. The Porsches all had wide body kits and huge rear wings for grip. As it was my first experience with the Supercup I had no expectations, this made it an enjoyable warm-up for what was to come.
Formula Renault 3.5 was a very different beast. It was all car. Loud, fast, cool, car. The format for the F3.5 was one I was unaware of, from a standing start they would drive 40 minutes plus 1 lap. This meant lots of jockeying for position for most of the field. The lead driver was way ahead for most of the race until spinning out right in front us at the last corner. Devastating turn of events for him but super cool for us (because no injuries) to watch the lack grip just happen, and then the efficiency of the crane truck to get that vehicle off the track. Once the 3.5’s had laid their rubber down and the podium was battled for we waited for them to pull the F1 cars out of the garages.
We had a great line of sight on pit lane, so when the cars came out and started their engines it was something to behold. As the race began, as expected, Mercedes jumped out to an early lead which they would hold for the remainder of the race. 2 safety cars made it interesting for pit strategy and cost Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari 3rd place, but most disappointing was Sebastian’s retirement very early on. But Vettel wasn’t the only one to get a DNF. In true Monte Carlo form only 15 of 22 cars finished the race.
The narrowness and dangers of the street track here are always talked about but to actually see, first hand, the barriers and width of the roads provides a much greater understanding of why the drivers have to be in an elevated state of awareness for this race and the margin for error is truly 0. Once the parties start on the track there isn’t even room to walk, let alone drive.
What really struck me was as we came into the city the roads we tiny and our Audi felt big and clunky and we had to even do a 3 point turn for one corner, and it really made me think of the track and what those drivers were going to have to deal with. As we walked down to the track from our parking spot a little ways away the impressiveness of the city streets and the skills needed to drive them was reinforced, tight turns and steep hills everywhere we looked.
In terms of sporting events, this was a very unique experience. We didn’t have grandstand seats because 400euro+ so instead we chose to be a part of the standing room section on the cliff above, and it was great! By the time of the race we were packed in like sardines. Thankfully we made friends with some brits on the ground behind us and some aussies in front so our borders and the little bit of room we had was protected. The old british dude was a riot and said a lot of things to us that we couldn’t hear over the noise of the cars and through our earplugs. And as a thank you for helping defend our space, when we all stood on our elevated platform and there was a little more room we invited them up to share our vantage point. We arrived in Monaco at 7 am and were at our sport by 7:45 and it almost was early enough. So for anyone that decides they need to go (which you do) go early, make friends, and take turns shopping before the Porsche Supercup starts. And on the shopping note, the weekend is a 4 day event with practice sessions, qualifying and the race day so if you want swag you have to go early because they sell out of sizes and styles early in the weekend. Fun times were had by all and I am definitely going to recommend this experience to everyone, racing fan or not, go there to see Monaco hopping.
The pictures are all my own so if you'd like to use them please ask and at least reference back to this blog, and if you'd like more info on any of the events of this trip visit Vanessa's blog!