The future looks different but Monaco brings some much needed familiarity to the sport
According to some, Formula One is ill. Something needs to change. The pinnacle of motorsport is struggling under the weight of its own expectations, as well as those from fans and sponsors, to provide a level of competition befitting its lofty status.
There have been attempted remedies – gimmicky additions, myriad rule changes – but largely none have provided a cure. But will the latest round of treatment offer anything different?
It was announced last week that F1 bosses are planning a fresh overhaul of rules for the 2017 season, in a bid to bring back some of the excitement to a sport that looks increasingly lost.
Refuelling and faster cars appear to be the headline treatments, and ones that have led to elder statesman Fernando Alonso to claim that it’s indicative that F1 has been going “in the wrong direction” for the past few years.
Much like half of the British political establishment, the sport has been urged to rediscover its soul, and while that maybe some way off, this weekend F1 will be able to slip into a state of soothing familiarity as the circus heads to Monaco.
For all of the emerging markets and far-flung destinations that Bernie Ecclestone has taken and continues to take Formula One to, none have been a patch on what Monaco brings to the table. A nirvana of the rich and famous, the principality is the greatest manifestation of what attracted so many to F1 in the first place.
While the circuit itself may not offer the most exciting wheel to wheel racing – the tight, winding streets have clawed more out of the drivers privileged enough to experience it than 1000 laps around Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina ever could.
The playboy’s paradise is therefore the perfect patch for the latest showdown between this season’s leading men.
Nico Rosberg has been forced to play second fiddle to Lewis Hamilton since the Briton pitched up at Mercedes just over two years ago, but when it comes to Monaco, he has been the daddy of the pair.
Two consecutive victories at what is considered to be the German’s ‘home’ grand prix – given he has spent his entire life living in the principality – means he has the upper hand once again, but his success in Barcelona last time out will only have fuelled the fire in Hamilton’s belly.
The reigning champion has only one victory in Monaco to his name, a figure he will be the first to admit is a not a reflection of his true ability, and one he will look about improving this weekend.
Expect a front row lock out from the Mercedes duo. Which means it will come down to a straight shoot out heading into the first corner.
Given the amount of retirements this circuit has seen over the years (40 over the last five years with 19 owing to collisions or accidents), this race has the potential to add another dimension to a rivalry that is once again starting to simmer.
F1 may have lost some of its edge in recent seasons, but as long as there are narratives as compelling as this, then the sport’s heart will continue to beat.