17 May 2018

In the days before Monaco

The men from Liberty Media are always busy, but very little of what they do gets out into the public domain. This is how they do business and while it starves the Internet of the he-said-she-said stories that used to help fill the endless virtual pages, it is a much more business-like way of doing business.

I am with them, F1 doesn’t need crises and scandals every day. A little quiet gives the impression that all is stable and under control. In the background the talks continue. Chase Carey flits about the paddock, smiling benignly, but with a face like a sphinx, giving nothing away. He is hammering out deals with the big guys. Perhaps as a journalist I shouldn’t like that, but I respect a good businessman at work. It’s not the same dog and pony show that existed in the days of Ecclestone. People complain that the new ownership is moving F1 towards show business, but I disagree. They are making it less of a magic show than it used to be. Does F1 need to be in the news every day?  Are fans able to live without stories about bans on halo mirrors? Should not the journalists be more into selling the dream, rather than obsessing on the minutiae?

We’re off to Monaco tomorrow and if there is anything that sells the F1 dream, it is the magnificently bonkers street race around the principality. It shows the genius of the drivers, captures the glamour of the sport. If you could put all these things in a bottle, you could make a fortune. Everyone wants to be thought of as Monaco at Grand Prix time. It’s neat, 100 percent pure, glamour. At least in the minds of the world. I love it and I hate it at the same time. It’s great and it’s as naff as a gold Ferrari. Does it matter that the girls who hang out with the millionaires have trouble counting above seven? They are using their assets. That’s Monaco. But it’s the Cote d’Azur. And if you’re there, you’re there.

Fans often say that Monaco is boring. I don’t agree. To say it’s boring is to say ‘I’ve not been there’ or ‘I don’t respect what the drivers do’ - or both. To be a true F1 fan you need to go there, and understand what the drivers do with these incredible machines, because it is fantastic. If they could overtake one another it would be a bonus but just keeping it one the island is impressive enough.

I’m looking forward to it, as I do every year. Monaco is Monaco. It’s magic and it’s crazy, but it works.

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