M onaco, the glittering race of Formula 1. It is my first time. My conclusion after a week of Grand Prix: Monaco fascinates and annoys me at the same time. First the positive: The route is unique. We experience it on race Sunday. Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull is missing 160 hp without electric thrust. And yet the Australian wins. Because it spreads like a bus in its RB14. This is only possible in Monte Carlo. On any other track Ricciardo would have been swallowed by Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.
There are some who disturb the importance of qualifying. I think: that's exactly what makes it so attractive. There have to be tracks like Belgium where the starting position is worth little. And there have to be those where the starting place is more than half the battle. Then the one fast lap counts, in which everything has to go right.
The paddock is small and cramped
Monaco does not forgive any mistakes. Max Verstappen feels it. Eight minutes before the end of the third training session, he buries his ambitions for victory in the guardrail. Doctor Marko grumbles. “That mustn't happen to him.” I only know this feeling from the Playstation. On the console, I hit the guardrail somewhere almost every lap. What else is special about Monaco? The sinfully expensive yachts in the harbor. The powerful super sports cars that cannot even call up a spark of their performance potential in the narrow streets. What a contradiction.
The negative aspects, the downside: The paddock is a bottleneck: little space, many guests and celebrities. The teams have to store the tires outside. Formula 2 sets up camp in a parking garage. I know that is part of it and it makes this race so dazzling. But it's annoying when you want to go back to the paddock from Red Bulls Energy Station and have to wait for what feels like an eternity at the turnstile, even though you don't have time. Or if you only lose a minute on the way to the track and the Formula 2 entourage is already chugging into the pits on the way - then you have to do a lap of honor.
Enough nagged: on no other track this world is as close to cars as in the Principality. I usually see her from the press center. This time I don't need five minutes to see the third practice session behind the guardrail on the track. It's crazy how fast the drivers bolt in the swimming pool chicane around the corner. Speed in its purest form. UnfortunatelyI have to go back to the press center 15 minutes before the end of training to prepare the training report.
Nissan GT-R vs. Renault Grand Scénic
Just getting there is an experience. On Whit Monday I meet Michael Schmidt in the editorial building. Shortly before our departure around 10:45 am, sport auto editor-in-chief Marcus Schurig met us, who had to nail up a leaflet on Le Mans on the holiday. His test car: a Nissan GT-R Nismo with 600 hp. Schmidt and I drive to Monaco in a Renault Grand Scénic. For the first few hours I can sit in the passenger seat. In Zurich I have to go back. Reporter legend Roger Benoit gets on. Schmidt and Benoit: You should hear these anecdotes from over 30 years of Formula 1.
Our route takes us over the great St. Bernhard. A six-kilometer-long tunnel for 26 euros: those are high toll prices. Both stay at an upscale hotel in Menton. That is still in France, about half an hour's drive from the paddock. For me, the middle class stays in Menton. 5th floor, blue carpeting, 1.40 meter wide bed, balcony. Hear, hear, even with a mini cut of the Mediterranean - the fine gentleman speaks of the middle class.
Monaco welcomes us with occasional rain. In between the weather gets better, the sun shines. An hour before the start of the race it trickles, but only for a few minutes. It stays dry on my tours through the harbor and through the city to photograph the fat yachts and fat cars. Colleague Grüner expects high quality material in the editorial office. The two articles are among the most clicked of the year.
The big ships are nice to look at, but they don't appeal to me. Nice and fast cars, on the other hand, do. Lots of them sneak through the principality. Examples? Ferrari LaFerrari in camouflage dress, Porsche 911 GT3, Lamborghini Aventador Roadster, Audi R8, McLaren 720S. Or old heroes from the Jaguar E-Type Cabrio and Ferrari 365 GTB4. Speaking of old heroes. Thierry Boutsen won at least three Grand Prix in his career. We meet onWednesday before the race. Boutsen, dark blue suit, blue shirt XX, opens the doors to his company for us: Boutsen Aviation: The Belgian has built a successful business after his career. He sells private planes to celebrities. 'Thierry still looks the same as before,' says Schmidt.
Champions League and Pizza
Schmidt and Benoit pick me up at the hotel every day. All you have to do is take a detour of two minutes. I get up an extra 20 minutes earlier to enjoy another cappuccino on the Mediterranean. Recharge your batteries before hard working days despite prices of up to four euros for a small cup. Colleague Benoit gets a cappuccino to go. The drive to the track is an experience every time. Colleague Schmidt likes to nag about the traffic. Every red light is a drama. His most frequent sentence: “We never arrive.” I laugh anew every time.
On Saturday evening after qualifying, we accelerate. I don't want to miss the Champions League final. Real Madrid is my favorite football team. She plays against Liverpool FC under coach Jürgen Klopp. Ricciardo is on pole. We miss the first 20 minutes of the game, see the rest in a pizzeria in Menton. Real wins.
Rumors persist throughout the race weekend that Ferrari is tricking its energy management. And that since Baku. The FIA is watching the Italians. Ferrari has to adapt the software. The rulers are satisfied. Ferraris Power Unit: It will keep us busy a few more times this year. Ferrari manages to outperform class leader Mercedes.
I've already touched on the race. Daniel Ricciardo defends himself masterfully and celebrates a pool party after 78 tough rounds. The Australian has earned the cooling off. Sebastian Vettel easily comes in second - with no chance of attacking the wounded Red Bull without MGU-K. Lewis Hamilton takes the podium and defends the championship lead on one of the Mercedes fearful tracks. It is one of the keys to the fifth world title. Hamilton gets a lot out of even average weekends.
In our photo show we give you a glimpse behind the scenes of the GP Monaco 2018.