(Image source: Engyles)
So Daniel Ricciardo found his win around the streets of Monaco at last. Two years after a pit stop blunder cost the smiling Aussie the top step of the podium, he could finally take a well-deserved dive into the Red Bull pool as the winner of the most famous race in F1.
It was a tough win for Ricciardo to claim, though, as an MGU-K failure left him down on power for the last two-thirds of the race. That a car down 200+bhp can win a race is remarkable, or at least it should be. This time though, it was just another example of why Formula One has outgrown the street circuit.
Dull, boring and predictable
While Max Verstappen made a few moves against inferior competition early on, most of whom didn't put up much of a fight, the Monaco GP turned into a dull procession yet again.
The top six were unchanged from their qualifying positions despite an undercut, varied second-stint tyre choices and Ricciardo's power problem. That just does not happen at any other circuit.
The leaders were lapping seconds off the pace as they tried to stretch the hyper and ultrasoft tyres to a one-stop strategy, something that would have been impossible were Monaco as wide as a standard race track. Valtteri Bottas, the only one of the leading five to opt for supersoft tyres on his second stint, could have won that race under normal circumstances, or at least had a podium as Ricciardo slipped down the field. Instead, he was limited to fifth place despite a smarter tyre strategy than his rivals.
Extremely boring. This is probably the most boring race ever. - Fernando Alonso
Tyre wear is not a common problem in Monaco, but barring rain the lack of excitement is. Try as they might, once Ricciardo staved off Sebastian Vettel's initial threat, even the commentators sounded bored and were struggling to create any drama. Max Verstappen, who had scythed through the Williams and Saubers, couldn't find a way past Nico Hulkenberg's Renault on similar tyres toward the end of the race. A car which had dominated the time sheets all weekend could not find a way past one that had been nearly two seconds off the ultimate pace in qualifying. That shouldn't happen, and yet in Monaco it is par for the course.
Celebrity, glamour & disappointment
One reason Monaco is so highly thought of by fans is the uniqueness of the event. Practice is on a Thursday, the yachts watching the final sector look cool, and then there are the celebrities! Everyone from George Lucas to Tom Brady was at the Monaco Grand Prix this year, be it as a fan, or as a guest of a sponsor or team. That aspect of the race sets it apart from every other one and lends it appeal to the wider, celebrity-driven culture that otherwise would not care for F1. It is important to draw new eyes to the sport, but when the race is that dull you can bet first time viewers will not be tuning in again.
Easy access from 5* hotels makes Monaco a favourite of the rich and famous - and camping in the Ardennes forest is not exactly what Hugh Grant is used to. But aside from the glamour, Monaco is consistently the worst race on the calendar, only ever salvaged by the odd accident or inclement weather. It is not the product that Formula One should want to put out to the world.
In previous generations of less aerodynamically dependent cars, Monaco could produce overtaking, pole position wasn't a guaranteed win, and track position wasn't checkmate. A faster car could find a gap at Portier while Sainte Devote would also see passes. Now the only option is a lunge out of the tunnel in a tricky breaking zone, and even then you need better tyres and a far superior car.
Formula One has outgrown the streets of Monaco, and it is time for it to move on. It won't, but it should.
Is it time to ditch Monaco from the calendar? Are you bored with the annual procession? Should the sport continue to pander to the world of celebrity? Don't hold back, vote in our poll and tell us straight in the comments below!