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  • Writer's pictureBen Waterworth

Monaco Grand Prix talking points: If you’re not a fan of the Monaco Grand Prix, you’re not a real fan of F1

Finally, Charles Leclerc has tasted success around the streets of Monaco, becoming the first driver from the principality to win at home in the World Championship era.

It is up there alongside Lando Norris winning in Miami as the most popular win in a while, and the pure emotion coming from Leclerc and Ferrari was a sight to be seen.

But outside of that, the usual annual discussion of whether the race belongs in modern F1 once again reared its head.

And once again it seems to be misguided.

How? Let’s find out in the latest episode of F1 talking points.

True F1 fans understand why Monaco needs to stay

Every year around the end of May, a growing number of supposed F1 fans call for the axing of the Monaco Grand Prix.

It always comes for the same reasons. It’s boring. There’s no overtaking. The cars aren’t suited for the circuit. It’s outdated.

But those are the F1 fans that just don’t understand the sport. The same fans who are expecting there to be wall-to-wall action every single weekend to make us all wet our pants in excitement with Netflix levels of enthusiasm.

The truth is, Monaco isn’t the best circuit. It never has been. And it never will be.

But what Monaco has that true F1 fans admire and know, is the skill that it takes to navigate, and just why it is the one circuit that separates the boys from the men.

If you win in Monaco, you are amongst the best drivers in the world. No matter what racing category, you have earned that spot.

Monaco isn’t about overtaking. It’s about the tenacity and bravery it takes to drive 78 laps around a circuit that is designed for a true racing driver.

(Photo by RacingNews365)

There is a reason why it is included in the triple crown of motorsport – and there is a reason why it may be the most difficult of the three to win.

If you’re watching the Monaco Grand Prix expecting to see countless overtakes and non-stop action, change the channel and watch the Indy 500 instead – because that’s where you’ll get it.

Instead, watch it for everything I have mentioned above, and mix that with a dose of glitz, glamour and prestige that no other sporting event on the planet can ever match.

If you can’t understand that, then you’re not a true F1 fan.

Leclerc v Norris: Which win was more special?

I’m not going to deny there isn’t a level of bias in me by saying that seeing Charles Leclerc and Ferrari win in Monaco was perhaps the best win I have seen as an F1 fan in the last decade.

For so long it seemed as though Leclerc was permanently cursed around the streets of his home circuit and that the breakthrough home win for a Monegasque driver in the World Championship era would never come.

But for 78 mature laps on Sunday afternoon, Leclerc finally exercised the demons of the past and won his first race in two years and gave Ferrari their first win at the principality in seven years.

It was an amazing achievement filled with emotion and one that was up there with the win from Lando Norris only two rounds ago in Miami.

But which was more special?

Norris winning his first race was also a long time coming, and the popular Brit finally breaking through gave even the most hardened F1 fan a big wry smile.

But one thing with his win is that we all knew it was coming. No matter what, he was going to win at some point. It was only a matter of time. So while it was special, it was expected.

Leclerc around Monaco? That just seemed like it wasn’t destiny. Kind of like an Aussie winning at Albert Park. It just always felt like the F1 gods were against the idea.

So seeing it happen finally, well, that to me is where the answer lies. Leclerc pips Norris, but only just.

Hopefully, now that we’ve seen one seemingly impossible situation happen, it won’t be long until that Albert Park breakthrough will come for an Australian driver.

Piastri, oh so close with another Aussie possibly set to debut sooner rather than later

As much as I was cheering hard for Leclerc to break through for a home win, I was cheering almost as equally hard for Oscar Piastri to claim the victory.

Piastri drove fantastically all weekend, and had it not been for a few errors on the Saturday, he would’ve no doubt been on pole and been in the perfect position to claim his debut win.

But the ever-mature Piastri took the result with his head held high, knowing that second around Monaco in only his second appearance there in an F1 car is no mean feat. And beating his teammate so comprehensively all weekend, well that only added icing on the cake.

(Photo by SBNation)

With that success in mind for Oscar, there is also now the potential that a third Aussie could be on the grid much sooner than we thought.

Rumours currently are circulating that Esteban Ocon could be benched for Canada due to his rather audacious move on Alpine teammate Pierre Gasly at the start of the race.

Team boss Bruno Famin was livid after the race when being interviewed by French television, and threatened that there will be ‘consequences’ for the incident.

This could mean that Ocon may be stood down for Montreal, opening the door for Alpine reserve driver Jack Doohan to make his debut.

Whispers are though that Mick Schumacher is also a possibility given he comes with experience in F1 races, so it will remain to be seen should it happen which driver will get the nod.

But the prospect of having three Aussie drivers in F1 at the same time for the first time since 1977 is one too exciting not to mention.

The championship is well and truly alive

Last race I touched on the prospect of the Championship being quite open. Well, another race in and this has proven to be the case even more.

In 2023, Red Bull dropped one race all year. In 2024 they have dropped nearly half of the eight races so far.

Max Verstappen finds himself barely a win ahead of Charles Leclerc in the Drivers’ Championship. Red Bull meanwhile is less than a win ahead of Ferrari in the Constructors’.

While there are shades of 2022 going on here, and we know how dominant that still turned out for Red Bull, there are more whispers of concern around the Austrian team’s garage than have been seen in some time. So much so, that Max’s dad Jos declared on the weekend that the Red Bull era was ‘over’.

Whether this turns out to be true remains to be seen, but all non-Red Bull fans will continue to hope this trend moves forward into the subsequent rounds.

Magnussen deserves a race ban as the stewards once again fail to deliver

In another race in which the race stewards simply can’t get their act together, Kevin Magnussen should be counting all his lucky stars that he avoided a penalty for his audacious first-lap move on Sergio Perez and will be racing in Canada.

The crash, which also took out his teammate Nico Hulkenberg, resulted in a red flag and a lengthy delay to fix the barriers.

It also cost both Haas and Red Bull millions of dollars in repair bills and had the potential to cause serious injury to both drivers and spectators alike.

But apparently, despite all this, no further action was deemed necessary. A truly baffling result given that Magnussen had barely any room to fit between him and Perez and the barrier, and that clearly his bold attempt at a pass caused the serious accident.

On the flip side, Ocon’s incident with Gasly was penalty-worthy according to the stewards, despite the fact it involved only one car retiring from the race and barely any damage.

It once again screams inconsistency and is the one problem from the weekend that fans should be crying foul about, not whether the circuit is suitable for racing.

This article was originally written for The Roar. You can read the published version here


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