Why the Monaco Grand Prix Is F1's Most Boring Race

Oliver HardenFeatured ColumnistMay 22, 2014

Why the Monaco Grand Prix Is F1's Most Boring Race

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    The Monaco Grand Prix is a firm favourite among Formula One drivers.

    They love the romance, the tradition and the history of the place. They love the idea of driving on the edge, knowing a single mistake can ruin a weekend's work. They love the pressure of knowing that their abilities behind the wheel can make all the difference.

    Indeed, there is a lot to admire about Monaco from a driving perspective—but what about those of us who don't have that privilege?

    For spectators, the Monte Carlo weekend can rank among the most boring of the season, to the point where it crosses your mind whether F1 is beginning to outgrow its most famous race.

    It's a horrific prospect, but a question worth asking. 

    And as the weekend's action approaches, we've listed seven things which make the Monaco Grand Prix the most boring race of the Formula One season.

Pole to Flag Wins

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    The idea that the driver who sets pole position always goes on to win the race in Monaco is a misconception.

    In actual fact, under half of the 60 grands prix at the venue have witnessed the pole-man claim victory—but that hasn't felt like the case in recent years.

    You would have to go back to 2008 to find the last Monaco Grand Prix winner to have started behind the No. 1 grid slot—but that particular race, which Lewis Hamilton won from third on the grid, was played out in unusually wet conditions.

    2003 was the last race on the Cote d'Azur which didn't see the pole-setter win the grand prix in fine conditions. Juan Pablo Montoya triumphed from third on the grid 24 hours after BMW Williams teammate Ralf Schumacher, who slipped to fourth by the chequered flag, claimed pole. 

No Overtaking

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    The 2003 race which Juan Pablo Montoya won, as well as being a rare example of a driver winning after failing to set pole position in Monaco, is also recalled as one of those sorry grands prix in which no on-track overtaking moves were recorded.

    That's the problem with Monte Carlo, which could significantly harm the spectacle of the 2014 event: Drivers are so busy fighting their cars and trying to avoid the barriers that they seemingly forget to fight each other.

    Recent races in Monaco have been defined by close battles for the lead, with the top six drivers finishing within around six seconds of each other in the 2012 race.

    There is, however, a major difference between overtaking and the possibility of overtaking.

    One is thrilling; the other merely threatens to be thrilling. 

No Overtaking Opportunities

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    Not only does the Monaco Grand Prix fail to produce overtaking, the circuit itself does not have a standout spot to encourage passing.

    There is a barrier lurking on the outside of St. Devote, the first corner, while any move attempted at the Grand Hotel Hairpin must involve an element of surprise and a victim with adequate levels of awareness and intelligence.

    The prime area for overtaking is arguably the Nouvelle Chicane, but even this carries risk.

    The bumpy surface on the exit of the tunnel can lead to a loss of control under braking, while the corner's run-off area can lead to a driver unfairly gaining a position, forcing him to give the place back to a rival and wasting time.

    Sergio Perez tried to force the issue last year, above, but all the Mexican ultimately gained was the wrath of three world champions.

    Overtaking is more hassle than it's worth at Monaco.

Race Lasts Too Long

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    Former Renault boss Flavio Briatore was ridiculed for once suggesting that Formula One races should be shorter—but the Monaco Grand Prix supports his theory.

    While the Italian Grand Prix, the shortest race on the calendar, takes roughly 80 minutes to complete, the Monte Carlo event can last up to 30 minutes longer, pushing the two-hour time limit.

    Due to a lack of on-track action, the race distance can often feel longer than 78 laps, with the vast majority of those to be endured rather than enjoyed once the romance of racing at Monaco wears off.

Slowest Corner in F1

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    Formula One, by definition, is all about speed.

    It is about state of the art pieces of machinery being pushed to their limits by the most talented group of drivers on the planet.

    The presence of a 30 mph turn, the Grand Hotel Hairpin, at the showpiece venue on the calendar, then, is at odds with the core values of F1.

Fragmented Schedule

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    That free practice takes place on a Thursday in Monaco is out of Formula One's hands, with Friday being a bank holiday in the principality.

    It is, however, another of Monte Carlo's little quirks.

    The near-48 hour gap between the second and third practice sessions makes any running on Thursday pretty much irrelevant, with cars starting from square one in terms of cleaning the track and laying down rubber on Saturday morning. 

It's Just Another Street Circuit

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    As recently as 2007, Monaco was the only true street circuit on the Formula One calendar. In 2014, it might not even be the best street circuit on the calendar.

    The arrival and rise of Singapore, a safer, wider and overtaking-friendly track, has cast Monte Carlo in a different light. 

    Marina Bay's status as a night race arguably offers more intrigue and a more exciting event than same old Monaco.

    And with Singapore's success, October's race at the Sochi street track and a potential grand prix in New Jersey, Monaco could soon find itself becoming a mere nod to the past among modern, stylish street venues.