Monaco Grand Prix Weekend: a Girl’s Perspective.

By Lana K.

Holding my umbrella, I am sitting under the pouring rain, watching an exciting race in front of my eyes. I am in Monaco for the Formula 1 Grand Prix. Without bias, Formula 1 is largely a man’s sport. Men see it from a technology and competition perspective. Women see it differently and it’s hardly only about the racing. Join me in sharing this perspective while living through this weekend’s event.

Friday afternoon flying to Nice, I already envision Monaco’s luxurious cars and boats, hi-end restaurants and trendy boutiques. The smell of the sea, jasmine, expensive perfume, cigars...and the smell of money. The rich come on their boats to play blackjack and chill out in style. This weekend is going to be particularly busy with the event of the year - the Formula 1 Grand Prix.

In the taxi from Nice to Monaco, we get into an exciting traffic jam of Ferraris, Porsches, Bentleys, Rolls Royces, Aston Martins and other eye-catching cars. The heavy traffic is partly caused by closing some of the roads in preparation for the racing weekend. The turquoise sea on the right, the glamorous slow moving cars on the left, and we are having a relaxed chat with two of my friends. We discuss Formula 1 stars of the past and how many of them were killed or injured either on or off the racing track, particularly Niki Lauda's story. From his early racing days, to his rivalry with James Hunt, and finally his face-changing accident and how he pulled through after that to become a world champion nonetheless.

Shortly after checking into our trendy hotel and ready for drinks, I get into the elevator. It stops at some floor and a man comes in. My first reaction is: “Am I daydreaming?! That’s Niki Lauda!!!” I was just talking about him to my friends, admiring his sports career and character...and here he is, just like that. As the elevator is descending, he is standing right next to me, wearing a red cap. I am looking at his burnt ear and think of the fire that nearly took his life. I think about what he had been through and how much he managed to achieve afterwards. A three times world champion! How unique it is: we come across celebrities here and there, but this is different. It’s like a thought coming out of your mind and walking into the elevator...I must admit it made my Friday.

What makes the Monaco Formula 1 circuit one of the most spectacular and demanding in the world, is its route through the narrow city streets, passing along the harbor, assuming different heights, a number of sharp turns, and leading through the tunnel. Despite relatively low speeds, for the pilots these challenges represent ultimate concentration and adjustment to the variable weather and light conditions.

Saturday qualifying enables us an excellent view of the track, complemented by a few turns. The harbor is filled with spectators. Apart from the grandstand, all nearby balconies, terraces, rooftops and yachts became viewing areas. 


Enjoying the sound of the engines and following the passing race cars, I lose track of time. An hour later the qualifying is finished. It brought Red Bulls’ Ricciardo his first pole position after recording the fastest last lap.

Time to chill out. Relaxing with a glass of Aperol Spritz and socializing with friends, we are getting ready to go to a fantastic place: Prince Albert's Vintage Car Museum. I ask myself how I could have missed it during my previous visits. This remarkable vintage and sporty cars collection brings together around 100 cars of different models, some as old as of 1903. Prince Rainer III, the husband of Grace Kelly and father of Albert, spent some 30 years putting it together. In 1993 the museum was opened to the public. Rolls Royce, Lincoln, Ferrari, Bugatti, Maserati, Lamborghini, Jaguar and many other iconic makes shine like diamonds on several building floors. Which one is my favorite? I spent hours there and still couldn’t make up my mind. A good reason to come back...


Finally comes Sunday, Race Day. Everyone was hoping for rain, both the audience and the teams. As one of the pilots said the night before: "Without the rain it will be a one stop race and the audience would wanna go for a beer. Rain is what will bring the excitement”. The microclimate in Monaco changes continuously. The first thing I did waking up on Sunday was open my window blinds and gladly see heavy rain clouds covering the mountains. 

Soon afterwards we are walking towards the grandstand under the pouring rain. Passing through the official Red Bull team booth, I look at the large picture of Daniel Ricciardo. A charismatic driver with high potential, who never stops smiling. Today is about Ricciardo against Rosberg or Hamilton: Red Bull vs. Mercedes. I bet on Ricciardo, I like his smile more.


Umbrellas covered the grandstand. The race started with the Safety Car, due to a limited visibility. The sound of the wet tires and the water splashes made it a lot more exciting than yesterday. Ricciardo is leading most of the time, having all the chances to win. And then comes the moment that changes the course of the event. As Ricciardo reaches the pits, the mechanics are not able to quickly find the right tires. Ricciardo loses a few critical seconds and Hamilton takes the lead. The rest of the race Ricciardo is following Hamilton closely but is never able to pass him.


Hamilton wins, Ricciardo is second - a total devastation! As he appeared saying right after the race: "How do I feel? Like I have been run over by an 18-wheel truck for the second week in a row,” accusing his team for "screwing" him over. At the previous Grand Prix in Barcelona a similar thing happened which deprived Riccardo of the podium due to his team’s mistake.

The race is finished. Lewis Hamilton is happily jumping on his cheering team and then rushes to his friend Justin Bieber, who came to Monaco to support him. He offers Justin the first drink off the opened Chandon, which he will later sprinkle over the others in celebration. Hamilton receives congratulations from the Prince and Princess of Monaco. And I am feeling sorry for smile, no champagne, no kiss from the Princess…

The Formula 1 weekend is over. Monday morning I am waiting for a taxi to go to the airport. I look around and think of how many exotic cars I have seen in just a few days. Probably more than in my entire life. Whether rushing through the race track or moving elegantly along the city streets, displayed in the museum or luring new owners through glass show rooms…Looking sporty, dressy or casually – all immaculate, all classy. They create the city style that astonishes first but soon afterwards is taken as standard. They build the association with Monaco that will not change through time. I fall for sports cars and here I found the aesthetic enjoyment I fully indulged in. My  weekend picks would be the Porsche 918 Spyder,  the Lamborghini Aventador, the Ferrari 488 GTB and the Aston Martin Vanquish. 

Good bye, Monaco! Leaving the Grand Prix behind, I can't help thinking how quickly the rush is replaced by serenity. The city is reverting to its normal lifestyle: the slow pace of a classy gem.

Lana K.