As Formula 1 heads to Monaco this weekend, there is a real threat that the 68th edition of the world championship Monaco Grand Prix could also be the last.
The contract for Monaco expired last year, but an emergency one-year extension was agreed, which is the reason that Monaco is on the calendar this season too.
With the potential looming that the Principality could be abandoned as a result of the pinnacle of motorsport’s outreach to new destinations, L’Equipe in France believe that there are talks to extend the race another “three or five” years.
Prince Albert of Monaco says that the uniqueness and the proud reputation the Monaco Grand Prix has built up over the years needs no further elaboration.
“Our history speaks for us,” he is quoted by grandpx.news as saying.
Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur recognises the significance the race in Monaco has for everyone in the paddock, but indicates that the promoters will have to do more to modernise the race.
“For sure Monaco is important for us,” he said, quoted by grandprix.com.
“We know perfectly well that it’s an historical grand prix. But at the end of the day, it will have to come from them, because they can’t stay old fashioned.
“And I’m not just thinking about Monaco. It’s a good lesson for all grand prix.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner agrees, adding that the nature of the Monaco Grand Prix Circuit is such that it would never make it onto the calendar as a new entry.
“If Monaco was a new circuit coming on to the calendar now and they said ‘You’re going to have the lowest fee and you won’t be able to overtake’, it would never be accepted,” he explained.
“If you stand still, you’re going backwards, and I think that applies to all aspects of the sport.”
Monaco is not alone in the very real existential risk posed to it.
The races in Belgium, Austria, France and Mexico are also in danger due to their contracts expiring this season, and F1’s owners, Liberty Media, have placed a huge emphasis on branching out to America, as well as exploiting Asian and African interest.
It could mean that there is no longer a place for the founding races of the championship like Monaco, which AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly previously described as a “shocker.”
“That would be a bit of a shocker if Monaco gets taken out of the calendar. It’s probably the most iconic race in the world,” he said.
“Talking to non-F1 fans, everyone had heard about Monaco for various reasons, whether it’s racing, whether it’s party-related, whether it’s all of the action that happens around the grand prix. It’s a very iconic weekend.
“I think, and I really hope, we get to experience it as drivers because it’s probably the toughest track of the season, the most challenging, and is my favourite one.”
Of the current grid, Max Verstappen, Sir Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Daniel Ricciardo have all won the Monaco Grand Prix.