Monaco status under threat as F1 chiefs chase reform following the end of principality’s contract to host prestigious race struck by former supremo Bernie Ecclestone
- Monaco’s standing as F1 untouchable jewel will come under scrutiny
- Liberty Media, who bought F1 in 2017, looking at Monaco’s role and importance
- High on their list is likely to be the modest annual hosting fee of about £10m
- Also up for debate in the renegotiation is Monaco’s rigidly fixed end-of-May date
Monaco’s standing as Formula One’s untouchable jewel will come under scrutiny in a significant renegotiation that Sportsmail can reveal will begin soon.
Unknown to most observers, the principality’s contract to host the event, struck between former supremo Bernie Ecclestone and the Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM) in 2010, expired with the race won by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen 10 days ago.
This offers F1’s bosses, headed by new chief executive Stefano Domenicali, the chance to seek reform from the ultra-conservative ACM.
Monaco’s standing as F1 untouchable jewel will come under scrutiny in new contract talks
As we reported last week, F1 have pledged to review the layout of the tight circuit, which has remained largely unaltered since its inception in 1929 and is no longer conducive to modern cars racing wheel-to-wheel. Domenicali’s No 2, Ross Brawn, will lead this work — using simulation technology. The process is at any early stage and no specific areas of the two-mile track have been earmarked for change.
However, sources indicate that Liberty Media, who bought F1 in 2017, are looking more broadly at Monaco’s role and importance. High on their list is likely to be the modest annual hosting fee of about £10million the ACM are believed to pay.
Liberty are keen not to squander potential revenue, especially after Covid ripped through last year’s programme with big financial consequences. More commercially attractive to the American owners are the vast figures paid by new venues. Saudi Arabia, for example, is coughing up £50m to join the circus this year.
Principality’s contract expired with the race won by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen 10 days ago
Also up for debate is Monaco’s rigidly fixed end-of-May date, a bind given how nimbly the sport has had to shuffle its calendar over the past 18 months.
Another area of contention may surround the ACM holding the editorial say-so over what is broadcast from Monaco on global TV. This issue was thrust into focus last month when the local director cut away as Sebastian Vettel passed Pierre Gasly heading up to Massenet.
Despite these reservations, Monaco remains redolent of heroes, tragedy and glamour — a blend Liberty would be rash to lose. The panjandrums of the ACM should guard their inheritance by being open to moderate change, aware that the race was created not by stick-in-the-muds, but pioneers.