Written by Alejandra Guajardo Lozano, Edited by Sharifah Zaqreeztrina
The Monaco Grand Prix is the upcoming race in the Formula One calendar. Its track is the narrowest one in the whole calendar and the most difficult to drive with no margin of error. This race is also known for its luxury and prestige as Monaco is the playground of the rich and famous. The Grand Prix is one of the 3 races of the so-called “Triple Crown”, with the other 2 being the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The only driver who has achieved this title is Mr. Monaco himself, Graham Hill.
The most glamorous and prestigious race with 78 laps around the narrow track and a length of 3.337 km takes place in the 2nd smallest country in the world. Around the same time the Grimaldi family were declared monarch of Monaco, the gas-powered automobile was invented. Within a few decades the Europeans became obsessed with driving them. Mercedes, Bugatti and Peugeot took part in these races, presenting their fastest models. Many countries were already holding Grands Prix and in 1920 the Automobile Club de Monaco decided they didn’t want to stay behind. The association was denied of this initially as the course had to exist entirely inside its borders, which posed a real challenge to the small principality.
They used up all the space they had, creating a narrow and unusual track. This challenged the drivers more, as there was no margin of error and doing an overtake would require lots of athletic skills, not just a fast car. The first Grand Prix was held in 1929 which was a total success making the Monaco Grand Prix officially part of the Formula 1 calendar.
The unusual track wasn’t the only thing that made this Grand Prix so well-known and highly regarded. The audience watching it from the harbor had a lot to do with it being the most luxurious and glamorous race in the calendar. How did these people get there? One word: taxes.
Referring to history, Monaco’s sovereignty had a price. Monaco used to be a bigger territory, including citrus farms. In 1848 the people in that territory rebelled against the Grimaldis due to the costly taxes. To save their kingdom, the Grimaldis signed the 1861 treaty giving France that part of their territory in exchange for sovereignty and 4 million francs. Consequently, Monaco was left with less territory and funding. The Grimaldis decided to build a casino to boost Monaco’s tourism as many other European countries had laws that restricted gambling. This was where the infamous Casino de Monte Carlo was placed. The casino boomed when a railroad connecting it to France was built.
By 1869, the Grimaldis stopped collecting taxes from its habitants. Most taxes were raised in other European countries, especially on the rich. This resulted in the wealthiest people from Europe moving to Monaco to stash their fortunes. Building luxury hotels, mansions, theaters and bringing in their collections of yachts and of course, luxurious automobiles.
Today, out of 39,000 people living in the country, one-third are rich. Enjoying the low-taxes, the extravagant parties and needless to say, the biggest event, the Monaco Grand Prix. During this crazy weekend, many parties are thrown, where famous people are in attendance as well as the press, bringing the spotlight to Monaco.
The Monaco Grand Prix is a world-wide spectacle. Every Formula One driver dreams of winning this well-esteemed Grand Prix and going home with the golden trophy.
“Monaco is one of those big races, it’s one of the ones you look at on the calendar and you think, ‘yeah we want to win that one’, ", says Red Bull Racing’s team principal Christian Horner.