Green Notebook from Solarium Beach

Monaco has always been a place that has lived off money from elsewhere, attracted by a scenic port surrounded by the high coastal mountain range, which shelters the town from cold northerlies. The fact that it faces south means that there is a warm microclimate so one can grow tropical plants and create exotic gardens.

The whole coastline – the Cote d’Azur – is like that and it became chic when wealthy members of the British aristocracy discovered that it was much nicer to spend their winters in the sunshine, rather than enduring British rain and fog – and that ghastly man Disraeli. They stumbled upon a small village called Nice, overlooking the Bay of Angels, and began to build villas. They soon added the Promenade des Anglais. Monaco at that time was remote and isolated. It was a fishing village with a castle on the hill above it. It was not rich and in 1856 Prince Florestan decided it needed more visitors and hit on the idea of building a bathing establishment and casino to pull in the deep-pocketed travellers.

His son Charles III thought the original building was insufficient and so built a much grander establishment on a small plateau to the east of the old port. Within a few years the Paris-Lyon-Mediterranee railway extended its railway line along the coast to Monaco and the area around the casino was renamed Monte Carlo (Carlo being Italian for Charles) and, hey presto, people began to arrive. Monte Carlo became the place to go to “break the bank” and it became tax-free to attract more wealthy individuals, including Americans and Russian emigrés. The Principality used sports to promote itself with the Monte Carlo Rally and then the Monaco Grand Prix. Then came the cinema. And when Prince Rainer married movie star Grace Kelly, the glittering image of Monte Carlo was complete. It has been riding that wave ever since.

But even surfers get old… so Monaco is forever building and tunnelling to make itself bigger and better. The elegant villas of old have largely disappeared now, as development has turned to tower blocks filled with tax-dodgers (or with empty apartments being used as residential addresses). Every time I visit I am reminded of Joni Mitchell’s famous song “Big Yellow Taxi” and the lines: “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot”.

But I still like Monaco, or at least I try to. At the moment they are building a whole new district in the east where there will be no cars, except in underground car parks. This will include a coastal promenade, 150 top-of-the-range apartments, villas and houses, a park, a port for parking yachts and lots of expensive new shops and restaurants.

Down in the old fishing village – now known as Port Hercule – they decided 20 years ago that they needed a way to attract more visitors and a new sea wall, known as the Nouvelle Digue, was built to allow cruise ships to stop by. Passengers swarm ashore and spend money. The Nouvelle Digue is actually floating (so they say) and was built in Spain (where labour is cheap) and it was then towed to Monaco and moored outside the famous harbour. On the outside of this concrete monstrosity someone decided that it would be great to create a “concrete beach”, giving access to the sea if one does not mind jumping in, and then climbing up a ladder to get back to floating “dry land”. They have added trees recently to make it less concretey, but concrete it remains.

Solarium Beach

Having said that, if you are looking for peace and quiet in Monaco, it is a good place to go as few people get excited about concrete beaches (perhaps it is a little ahead of its time) and it is close to town. There is even parking nearby in the Parking des Pecheurs (The Fishermens’ Car Park) where F1 folk park their cars and where the Formula 2 Championship paddock is located. The top floor doubles as an indoor kart facility, where the Chuck Leclucks of the future can learn their trade.

The problem is that there is no space in Monaco and Formula 1 always feels cramped. The Paddock is a quayside. Everything is too narrow and so the Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM) employs countless folk who are there simply to move everyone on. It’s a boring job, of course, and so these people tend to get blasé about how they treat others – and it not being a job that requires much in the way of education, they often have no clue who they are talking to. They all recognise the Prince and the ACM President, but they treat everyone else like dirt on their shoes. They are an anti-diplomatic corps.

So, the Monaco Grand Prix is the event  where the beautiful people cram into a small area which smells of fish, diesel and leaky portaloos. They trip over plastic cable covers that run everywhere, because no-once can be bothered to create mini trenches and the only people who are happy are those who get their kicks watching VIP after VIP trips over these things.

When you boil it all down, it’s slightly less glamorous than a motorway service area, without the space. But, for most of the world, getting into the Paddock in Monaco is just the coolest thing…

The one area where there is a space has been eroded over time by a VIP hospitality area that was crept along the quayside (it makes money and so is interesting for F1) and it has now largely taken up with an area where TV crews are allowed stumble over one another. Through this area sail the drivers, surrounded by their social media teams and PR folk, frantically filming and looking important, but actually being little more than human tugboats around sleek ocean liners.

These days the written media is less and less visible in the paddock because no-one allows them into the motorhomes any longer (the teams made sure that something good came out of the pandemic) and so most stay inside the tatty exhibition hall on the first floor of the fading pink building that runs down the quayside behind the paddock.

The press do not bother going out, except to get food.

It is supposed to be a media sport, but no-one wants the media. The odd thing is that F1’s new popularity comes from the Netflix series Drive to Survive, which takes people behind the scenes a little. But even this has major time constraints and so for those who really want to feel part of F1 the written media is the place to go, as it has untold acres of virtual space to tell the stories of life in F1 and to weave an interesting tapestry.

F1 people and teams don’t seem to realise this.

Many years ago I realised that there was no point in trying to find people in Monaco and I use a couple of places where I hang out and let the world come to me. Sometimes one has to swat away security people to do this, but such is life. Terriers biting trouser legs can usually be kicked away. Watching the big boss of F1 Greg Maffei struggling through crowded alleyways surrounded by workers, caterers, people who want to be noticed, security people and endless VIP minders, made me wonder if perhaps he might not feel the need to buy a chunk of Monaco to create the right kind of F1 facility – as he has recently done in Las Vegas for a cool $240 million.

One gets the impression that the rather tatty block behind the Paddock might be demolished and things reorganised, to spruce up the poor end of the Quai Albert Ier, giving Monaco a nicer space for events and F1 a better paddock. I am sure that such a scheme could make money because one can always sell or rent new apartments in Monaco to the rich – and some new apartments could easily be built into any development.

I see from the US that Roger Penske, the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, has also gone down the same path by buying the Speedway Monogramming property, that has existed among the Speedway’s parking lots, opposite the South Chute Tunnel, for the last 30-odd years. This means that one day soon, this will be demolished and the Brickyard can get the kind of  “front door” that such a facility requires.

Anyway for now we are stuck with a dingy Monaco Paddock, with a race track where overtaking in impossible. It was ironic that that this year’s Monaco GP slogan was “Let’s Race”, which, of course, is the last thing that happens on the current track… Add to this the fact that the TV coverage that is awful and advertising and hospitality are both sub F1 standard. And the race pays a much lower fee than all the others.

While we all love the concept of Monaco, it is one of the worst races – by a long way, although the ACM seems unable to grasp the concept that it is not the best race in the world. One good indicator of the arrogance in Monaco is that one never sees ACM people at other races looking at what rival promoters do… to learn. The ACM thinks there is nothing to learn.

Ah well, ignorance is bliss. F1 is telling Monaco it might not agree a new contract,  but the ACM thinks it is impossible that F1 would drop the Grand Prix. It is not impossible…

The Paddock did not buzz with news as a result of all the restrictions on movement, but the press conferences did see a performance worthy for an Honorary Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. This was Christian Horner explaining how tough life is for Red Bull with the F1 budget cap. It is almost tragic to have to report that this was lapped up by open mouthed media (yes, there are a few mouth-breathers in the media) who do not realise when someone is feeding them information for reasons other than admiration for what they write. Grown men had tears rolling down their cheeks as Christian soldiered onward with stories of Red Bull staff being laid off and how they would have to busk at the roundabouts in Milton Keynes. He stopped short of launching a TV appeal for little old ladies to send in their savings to help these lovely cuddly people, who would be cruelly wronged by the evil budget cap.

The truth is that while inflation is a problem, Christian & Co have forgotten to mention that F1’s business is largely conducted in US dollars, including the all-important prize money payments, much of the sponsorship and, the budget cap itself. He also forgot to mention that in the last 12 months currency traders have seen the dollar as the safe haven and so it has appreciated significantly against its European counterparts. Teams earn in dollars and spend in local currencies  (be that the Pound, the Euro or the Swiss Franc). If one looks at the numbers, inflation in Europe is about seven percent and might rise to 10 by the end of the year. The dollar has appreciated against the Euro by 15 percent, 13 percent against the Pound and eight percent against the Swiss Franc. Anyone who has travelled to the US recently will attest that it has become a very expensive place to be.

This means that teams have up to 15 percent more money to play with, in their local currency, than they used to have. Inflation has reduced the value of this extra money, but they still have more than they used to have.  It is true that many costs have increased impressively, particularly the costs of electricity, fuel, air freight and air tickets, but these are not the major items in team expenditure. This all means that claims for a higher budget cap are really only big teams trying to get more money to help them beat less well-funded teams…

Incidentally, Red Bull is now discussing building a new wind tunnel in Milton Keynes in order to stay competitive, at a time when wind tunnels should be a thing of the past. They are doing this, so Christian told me, because Lawrence Stroll needs one for his son. Someone really needs to whisper to the Canadian billionaire that you cannot buy the World Championship for one’s offspring. It has been clear for some time that Lance is good, but not quite good enough. It is a similar story with Mick Schumacher who keeps having big crashes while trying to out-do Kevin Magnussen. This is wearing thin for Haas and there is talk that it would probably like a different driver next year, although Ferrari does have a say in the matter.

The problem is that Ferrari has a gap in its young driver conveyor belt at the moment because the only Ferrari youngster who looks even vaguely ready for F1 is Robert Shwartzmann, a Russian. Antonio Giovinazzi is still there but he has been around the block a few times already. British driver Callum Ilott is still a member of the Ferrari programme, but seems to be settled in IndyCar (where he damaged his wrist last weekend when he crashed during the Indy 500) while the next Ferrari youngsters are Formula 3 drivers: including Arthur Leclerc (The Sequel) and Oliver Bearman.

The rumour in Monaco is that Mick’s people are now looking at other options for the future and that Aston Martin might be a good choice for him because he’s German, younger and less hairy than Sebastian Vettel, and he is not too fast for Lance.

The thing is that billionaires always seem to think that because they are billionaires they can be successful in everything. No-one dares to tell them that may not be the case. Similarly, it seems to me that billionaires should buy smaller trousers because having really deep pockets and high belts is never a great look.

But, hey, who decides what is fashionable? Money is always in fashion.

The recent fiasco with Formula 1 VIP hospitality in Miami seems to have led to a rethink about the way the system should work in the future. The deal in Miami allowed for the local promoter to select its own catering, and it chose a local firm because it was less expensive that F1’s usual supplier, the Austrian caterer Do&Co. The result of this decision was a lot of very unhappy VIPs, teams and sponsors, who all felt – quite rightly – that if one is paying $12,000 for a ticket to an event, one should expect top level hospitality. The problem for Formula 1 is that the guests do not know, nor care, about the sub-contracting arrangements. For them the Grand Prix was a failure of F1 itself and the danger of this is that the sport will get a reputation as being a rip-off – and that is clearly not what is wanted. The best way to maintain quality control is to dictate what happens. In future F1 will be doing that…

There was not much else. Former Formula 1 driver Kimi Raikkonen is going to race in the NASCAR Cup Series later this year. Now 42, the monosyllabic Finn will race for the Trackhouse team at Watkins Glen on August 21. The deal is part of a new initiative launched by Trackhouse called Project91, which will field a Chevrolet with #91 for a series of international racing drivers, in an effort to increase international interest in the stock car series.

Not everyone goes to Monaco because they want to be noticed. Some go to see the event because they have plans of their own to host races and DON’T want to be seen. This is a daft idea, of course, because in Monaco, everyone is looking at everyone else to see who they are, and anyone who believes that they can hide in plain sight is taking a big risk. If one sneaks on to a boat one can get away with it, if they crew don’t blab, but if you are in the paddock you can be spotted not only by the way you act, but also by how those around you behave. Years ago I developed a strategy for spotting these people. If I saw someone accompanied by leggy blondes with diamond earrings, this suggested that the gentleman in question was wealthy and I would rush up and say “Hello, I’m Joe,” and they would say: “Hello, I’m Such-and-Such” and we’d get chatting and I’d find out who they were. This worked very well with a man who replied: “I’m Steve. Steve Wynn.” He was in Monaco because he wanted to have a Grand Prix in Las Vegas and told me all about it.

I might have done the same thing this year with a chap in a Williams hat, as all the big cheeses in the team were fawning over him in the Paddock alleyway. I even heard one of them say: “This way, Peter” and that got me thinking. Back in the summer of 2020, when the Williams team was sold to Dorilton Capital, there was much interest and speculation about who was behind the mysterious investment firm. It was based in New York, but was clearly not an American firm. It was identified only as being a private investment office for an unidentified high worth family.

I got a tip that the buyer was a Jersey-based entrepreneur called Peter de Putron, but no-one in the team would talk about whether these stories were true. De Putron is so reclusive that there does not seem to be a single photograph of him on the Internet, which makes it quite hard to identify him. Did Peter’s pass say de Putron? I wondered. There is a picture on the Internet of his brother and the two people seemed to have some striking similarities.

I suppose I could have employed some ACM security person to be annoying and look for me, but in the end I concluded that with modern telephones one can take pictures that blow up very large. Anyway, to cut a long story short I am certain that de Putron is the man behind Dorilton – and I’ll not post any pictures of him because he does not want to be famous.

And now he owes me a favour… which is never a bad thing.

Among those in Monaco who were not hiding was William Hornbuckle, the CEO  and President of MGM Resorts International, one of the biggest casino operators in Las Vegas, over to take a look at how things are done. There was also a delegation of Africans (which is quite unusual in F1) and I was told that they were from South Africa, present to discuss the possibility of a new F1 event at Kyalami.

In my years in F1, I have always found that there is no better way to upsetting celebrities than asking them how they became famous. I don’t do it any more and am blithely unaware when I stroll past some pouting social influencer with a squillion followers, a cage fighter or a jingly-jangly bling-covered football player with tattooed nostrils. As usual, Hollywood’s finest (apart from Horner) didn’t turn up for the photo op in Monaco.

Flavio Briatore could not stay away, of course, dying as is he is for publicity and surrounded as always by fashion models of yesteryear, reminding us all about how much F1 has moved on since his inauspicious exit from the sport more than a decade ago. A formula 1 version of The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come…

Bernie Ecclestone was not there (he’s always been smarter than Flav) but he did manage to get into the news in F1 by being arrested while trying to get on a plane in Brazil with a small revolver in his luggage.

“I haven’t had any publicity lately and I thought I ought to do something to get some,” The Bernard told Reuters. Some in the cynical world of F1 think that this is possibly the real story.

Anyway, the race was interesting enough, but when we left on Sunday night I didn’t say: “See you next year” to the ACM folk, because I am not sure we will be back in 2023. I hope so, but if we are back I hope that there will be some changed attitudes. F1 is deadly serious about getting what it wants from Monaco – even if that hurts for a year.

The ACM should perhaps take note of advice from Joni Mitchell.

“Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone…”

94 thoughts on “Green Notebook from Solarium Beach

  1. Never been to Monaco. Being from Detroit I remember the “paddock” being a mile away in Cobo Hall. So, yes I can understand the chagrin about space being an issue for the teams. And besides it is not “fair” to other races if Monaco has terms that are softer for them.

    Yeah, go ahead pull it off the schedule and see what happens. Sure, it will piss some people off. Does the current customer base care? All good questions.

  2. The builders and developers (their name begins with P) have spoilt a lot of Monaco along with the authority’s greed for additional revenue. They must be getting close to killing the golden goose, although it is still pleasant in early spring and mid autumn. I was going to go to stay with relatives in Monaco for the Historic GP, (travelling by train from Les Arc sur Argens) but unfortunately my long covid made it too much of a heave this year.

    1. was in Monaco in 1980 and again last year, like most places its unrecognizable , tacky and overbuilt, full of posers who are light years from being cool. Cassis still my fave Riviera spot.

      1. Lived close by for a while and always thought Monaco hugely overrated. To paraphrase Somerset Maugham “a shady place for even shadier people”. With you on Cassis and also I like Nice, a big town with all of the facilities thus not overawed by the holiday crowd. Much of the South of France can also be bedevilled by the Mistral and Tramontana but the former doesn’t reach as far as Mandelieu. It’s also staggering how quickly everything shuts down at the end of August.
        Interesting race though, there is so much more to F1 than the crowd perhaps fully understands and appreciates. If only, Joe, your messages could be more widely disseminated.
        Time though for some sensible discussions between the interested parties with everything on the table.

  3. Well put, thank you. I am afraid ACM’s go to song will be “It aint over, till it’s over….” Time will of course tell.

  4. The noise of the crowd as the rain started 10 minutes before the race was the most interesting thing to happen all weekend. It’s going to be a good race! But then it wasn’t. Not even the rain could save it this time. Nor a safety car. Nor a red flag (rolling starts at Moncao? Jeez). We left the Z1 area and wandered up to the palace to get something to eat and watch the procession on a TV screen instead.

    The track is too tight now for modern cars. The pinch points at the wrong places for drivers to dive down the inside.

    And yes, the entire place is looking more and more rundown with each passing year. The rain seemed to amplify it this time.

  5. One thing I hope would happen with Monaco GP, at the very least, should it stay, is FOM finally taking over world feed coverage directing. Something they should’ve done long ago.
    For now, I’m sure about Mick’s Haas continuation, but if this doesn’t happen, Shwartzman could indeed become an option, helped by competing under an Israeli license.
    However, I doubt Mick would switch to Aston, as Alonso is seemingly the #1 target should Seb retire, but anything’s possible in F1. BTW, I like the ‘less hairy’ reference.

      1. Joe, if Alonso is staying, what happens to Piastri?

        (I’m really hoping Alpine will pay to keep him under contract and park him in a race seat somewhere else for a year, but you’ve not been making positive noises about the chances of that…)

        1. I doubt Alpine could really do that, as independent teams don’t exist to serve other teams.

        2. If Toto is serious about Merc wanting to offload a PU customer and Alpine (or Renault, anyway) is still looking to find one, Piastri could well be the bargaining chip that clinches (or loses) any potential deal.
          For a while there’s been rumours about Williams possibly returning to Renault power, perhaps – and assuming that LAT’s time in F1 is ending (I don’t think the team still need his dad’s money, do they?) – that could be a reasonable place for the youngster to start?
          Any thought, Joe?

  6. It sounds as though the consensus is beginning to build more and more strongly that Sebastian Vettel will retire at the end of this season. Is this a fair conclusion to make?

    Also, lots of speculation as to whether Daniel Ricciardo will be dropped by McLaren at the end of this season – any basis in that? Furthermore, given that now Sergio Perez has renewed his contract with Red Bull until at least the end of 2024, is it plausible that McLaren would replace Ricciardo with Gasly instead?

            1. AIUI – and has been confirmed from time to time by various TPs – some drivers have ‘performance clauses’ in their contracts which would allow them to leave if expectations aren’t met; do you know if that works both ways, Joe?
              Whilst I remember the pay-Kimi-to-give-up-his-seat ($25m I believe was the figure bandied about?) – I don’t see anyone paying out that sort of money to get RIC (or VET come to that) to ‘give up’ their seats – but would it be necessary?
              Could we see one of the above ‘dropped’ and replaced mid-contract because they haven’t lived up to what was expected of them?

  7. Always enjoyable, Joe. Merci.
    The 1982 Monaco Grand Prix was the second race that I’d ever watched (at a friend’s place) and I’ve seen pretty much every one since – on television. I’m at an age now where I realize I’m probably not going to be a VIP, have models following me around, or have reporters wanting to know who I will drive for next season, but Monaco remains the Grand Prix I would like to experience more than almost any other.
    Always nice to read about Mr. Briatore, too!
    Is he still earning his 20% from Fernando Alonso?

  8. Hi Joe, any insights on why Albon escaped a penalty for ignoring at least 16 blue flags in a row to let Leclerc through?

      1. Yes, he impeded Leclerc for nearly a lap & likewise, Latifi impeded Sainz, albeit only until the tunnel.

      2. Joe, we have onboard footage from both Albon’s car and Leclerc’s car showing the number of blue flags that Albon drove through, and we also have Albon’s post race interview with the media where he openly stated that he knew Leclerc was there and that he was deliberately ignoring the blue flags.

        There is therefore no doubt that it was anybody other than Albon, and he’s confirmed it himself that he was deliberately not following the blue flag rules.

  9. Did you see William Storey ( the bearded former Hass sponsor from Rich Energy ) in the Paddock? He was in the area – Port Fontvieille – but has been saying he has agreed a return to F1. One would hope any team would laugh him out of town.

      1. Although a different level of sponsorship – with their riders currently 1st and 4th in the British Superbike Championship – Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha seem to be doing okay.

      2. His BSB team – or at least the team he sponsors (Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha) – seem to be doing okay with their riders currently in 1st and 4th places in the championship.
        I realise that the financial requirement is very different – but ‘a waste of time’ would seem to be a ‘bit’ strong!

          1. Is that really the issue, Joe?
            If someone wants to put up their own money (or their company’s, at least) to promote a brand that appears to only exist on paper/digitally – what’s the problem?
            If the money was ‘dirty’ or it was part of a money laundering scheme or similar it would be a major problem – but I’ve seen no suggestion of anything like that.

    1. Interestingly*, Rich Energy’s logo is plastered all over the BTC-entered Hondas in the British Touring Car Championship. They seem to be doing OK too, or at least Josh Cook is.

      Anyway, concrete beaches have been A Thing at least since I was a small Mr Larrington; I remember reading of such things on the Sea of Marmara in my Illustrated Encyclopædia for Tinies circa 1969.

      * For specific values of “interesting”, obv.

      1. We had to make the best of one such under the walls of the castle in Kyrenia back in the 50s but it was otherwise fairly special. Sand ain’t always so brilliant, gets places !

      2. as they are in British Superbikes as well, whose team is also leading the standings, whether theyve just lucked out picking a couple of successful independent teams who coincidentally have hit the ground running I dont know, Ill always question where the money comes from that operation, but just like Rokit who Williams quickly dispatched, who also have sponsored teams in domestic racing in the past, I guess the point is you dont need to chuck millions at those teams competing in national championships, unlike F1, to get lots of brand name recognition from it

  10. Joe, I wonder if you could fit all those in ACM in to A Big Yellow Taxi?

    Unless Monte Carlo invests to make the spectacle better they should lose the GP. History is one thing but it’s supposed to be a race. I think the French GP should go and replace it with the Portuguese GP. Get rid of the Spanish GP or make them spend some money to make the circuit better for overtaking if they don’t give the spot to South Africa.

    1. I thought there were already plans to extend the circuit?
      A loop starting by turning left just before Portier and then out and back for 1/2 a mile rejoining to go back through the tunnel?

      1. Yes, the court one is Tim, but Peter pops up as well…they resemble each other strongly but are clearly slightly different….Tim is looking side on over his shoulder whereas Peter is looking straight forward into camera..

  11. The entry to the main straight goes around the statue of Fangio to accommodate the pit entry, thus ruining any chance of passing into St Devote. There is a natural curve there but its not used. The hump down to Mirabeau makes that short straight unusable. The road after the hairpin could be routed left down the Rue du Portier and around under the Blvd lu Larvotto to create a longer run through the tunnel section where a car could DRS around a slower car. The chicane could be softened. This track could work.

      1. I thought it was Grover Williams’ statue at Ste Devote.
        But Fangio’s statue at Noghes is also removed for the race, I believe.

  12. Joe, when you have a moment could you please advise the prince of Monaco that if his highness and family do not wish to be sprayed with champagne they should exit the podium immediately after presenting the trophies? There they remained, nailed to the spot like the wet blankets they are, cramping the style of the celebrating drivers. I dunno at all.
    (Incidentally, I am glad that Vettel is not likely to visit that podium any time soon after the shameful underhand way he stole the win from his team mate in 2018, or was it 2017. Just the kind of caper his hero Schumi would have applauded.)

    1. You’re really on form here Joe, (as always) great GN and love the sarcasm!

      Regarding Monaco, either the track needs to grow or the cars need to shrink. This doesn’t work, but did it really ever? A possible solution could, as suggested, be turning left at Portier and have a couple of (DRS) straights. The question is, however, whether Monacos time has passed and if not Miami and Vegas might take its place.

  13. Hi Joe, thank for the notebook. Amazing insights we receive with much gratitude.

    I found the Ocon penalty for the St Devote incident absolutely ridiculous. “Ah last year that was a racing incident … this year it’s a 5 second penalty”. Hamilton had no chance making that move stick and Ocon had the right to the corner. Hamilton was on the limit and should have avoided the clash by veering towards the pit exit lane – although he locked like he was locked up. The FIA are making themselves look stupid in a sport with the viewership and $$$s involved in modern day F1.

    In Abu Dhabi Masi could at least be respected for trying to prevent finishing under yellow flags. This time around they just look plan incompetent.

    1. Hamilton was simply entitled to space by being considerably enough alongside.
      Therefore, nothing ridiculous about the 5-second penalty, although no action against Ocon for his risky defense when he pushed Hamilton towards Armco, also going into St. Devote was ridiculous.
      Even a black flag wouldn’t have been entirely unjustified.

    2. Yes, that penalty annoyed this Unit too and only served to reinforce this Unit’s perception of Surlewis as a petulant [“bad swear” – The Invigilator]. Hence my laughter when he got stuck behind Alonso later in the race 😈

      1. What about the all the times he got it right?

        Michael Massi’s biggest problem was he did not get enough support and then as referee having to explain himself on the live feed over the radio where predominantly Christian Haliwell and Toto Woolf were looking to get him to rule in their own self interest.

        Adu Dabai was not great but we don’t have all the information he gets Even that Jesus fella only got nailed to the cross once.

  14. Joe the GN is the best part of a race. Thanks again for the thoughts and insites. Marvellous!

  15. Joe, thanks for your insight. The FIA and race control must be under huge pressure after Monaco. The start, delays and also the pitlane situation with race notes / regulations re frankly embarrassing and not befitting F1. What is being done to address these ridiculous failings and lack of communications (Martin Brundle made note of this in his Sky Sports column). I wonder if Mercedes, Toto Wolf and those in the press are regretting their cordinated campaign against Michael Masi?

    1. but I think thats the real problem, the delays to the race werent a problem or embarrassing at all, the delays were for driver safety which is primary concern of race direction when deciding to green light races, not that tv commentators have to fill minutes with no race action or wait abit for situations to improve,and tv commentators should be comfortable enough to explain that to the audience waiting.

      instead they went for the complain loudly route as they had time to fill (and clearly planes to catch later) and nothing to talk about, maybe take a leaf out of the TMS handbook for rain delays in future ,and werent feeling they were part of that loop of the decisions being made at race control, unlike with Masi who was always being interviewed by Sky Sports to explain delays or decisions, just like the teams had him on speed dial to complain to him. I dont think either of the current race directors has been on SkyF1 once yet, even just caught walking by in the paddock, because they are just doing their job in race control, and their job is not explaining themselves to a tv camera crew about their decisions.

      now F1 might want to improve that communication channel so the broadcast media dont feel they dont understand whats happening, its standard procedure in WEC for instance for all of the race directors radio calls to teams be broadcast as part of the radio coverage. And I dont doubt for a second race control were keeping the teams fully upto date with the situation and timings, its just we didnt hear them

  16. Joe, the Portier Cove project seems to have been hidden the past few years of the race by that seawall/mural when the cars pass by before entering the tunnel. Are they close to being done and will that wall come down to show the new district when construction is complete?

  17. Someone needs to tell Whiny Horner:

    “If you cannot deliver to the agreed budget cap, make way for someone else who can.”

  18. Joe

    Thanks for your post always nice to hear what’s going on behind the scenes

    Can’t see Monaco letting the race go it’s the biggest money spinner of the year for the Principality. The second biggest used to be the Reinsurance Rendezvous where a bunch of insurers, reinsurers and brokers from around the globe would meet at various points around the principality in September to discuss how much they were going to charge/pay (depending on who had the whip hand) for reinsurance protection. The pandemic has put paid to that it seems with one on one meetings being replaced by Zoom calls.

    If Monaco loses the race they might have to tax those nice rich racing drivers who “live” there.

  19. Presumably if RB have actually been overspending it’s because they assume they can force the issue. Any chance someone’s been holding back a bit hoping to exploit others blowing through their budget?

  20. The point is about the Monaco GP is it’s not about the race. It might have been in the distant past but now the cars are so big and heavy it’s nigh on impossible to overtake. So the event is really about the glamour, the prestige, the spectacle. It’s also a place where deals are done on yachts…..

    But this doesn’t always translate very well on TV. I suppose it’s one of those things where you’ve really got to be there to appreciate it.

    Sure, the drivers love the track because it’s a real test of ability – make one wrong move, even by an inch, and you’re out. But on TV the race is a bit of a borefest.

    F1 itself seems to want to keep this race – or should that be a spectacle – because of the historical context, and the glamour etc. I noticed when I was watching the race there was a very prominent banner – “Monaco, host of Grand Prix since 1929” or something similar. Very astutely placed, and with a point to make.

    It’s clear Liberty are not prisoners to history and not afraid to wield the knife if necessary. I just hope if they do take the Monaco GP off thre calendar, then I really hope they don’t replace it with something like the Miami GP………

  21. Beautifully written as ever Joe. As someone else above said your Green Notebook entries are the highlight of a GP weekend for me.

  22. I was expecting you to include in the history, some sort of mention of the independence of Monaco lasting only so long as there is a male royal ruler; with it reverting to full French rule should the male line die out. Or is that all a media invented myth? However even if true Princess Grace managed to stave that off by producing the current prince. (She made one of the best films ever whilst engaged to Prince Ranier )

  23. Not sure why you think Peter De Putron is ‘reclusive’ Joe?

    He is the Chairman of VAM Funds, begun with backing from George Soros; his sister-in-law is Andrea Leadsom, Conservative politician and former financial services minister; he attends the Conservative ‘White Tie Ball’ and backed the Leave campaign.

  24. Monaco is such a great event and no it is not the race but the qualification that matters so for me best saturday in the year of F1.

  25. “But, hey, who decides what is fashionable? Money is always in fashion.“

    There’s a certain irony in that comment being made about a team owner that has literally made his money in fashion….

  26. When is a line not a line and if so when is it crossed or not crossed?
    None of that matters since the regs actually say keep to the right of it. The established interpretation of that is, “to keep to the right of it” However…
    This is another instance of a badly written reg which was able to be subverted by the race director’s note which introduced the concept of “Crossing the line” a concept which drivers then stretched in the the same way as track limits have been. Had the regs stated that Cars must stay wholly and completely to the right of the line for its entire length”, there would have been no room for the race director to issue notes to the contrary.
    It seems that F1 is now interpreting all boundaries as it if were tennis; is there a micron still inside the limit?
    “No officer I did not crash the car into the lamppost. Look! Most of it is not even touching the lamppost!”

    1. Joe, great Green Notebook… I’ve become addicted to them since last year… Keep up the good work! Greetings from Belgium.

      Appendix L of the International Sporting Code – Article 5c) states the following (new for 2022):

      “Except in cases of force majeure (accepted as such by the Stewards), any tyre of a car exiting the
      pit lane must not cross any line painted on the track at the pit exit for the purpose of separating cars leaving the pit lane from those on the track.”

      Article 11.1 of the Race Director Event Notes for Monaco said:

      “In accordance with Chapter 4 (Section 5) of Appendix L to the ISC drivers must keep to the right of
      the solid yellow line at the pit exit when leaving the pits and stay to the right of this line until it finishes
      after Turn 1.”

      The Stewards have ruled that no one, not even the Race Director in his Event Notes, can go against the International Sporting Code (pretty much the FIA’s bible).

      Since Verstappen’s car was only partially over the line, but still in contact with it, Ferrari’s protest was rejected. The Verstappen decision states: “All parties agreed that Car 1 did have part of its front left and rear left tyre on the left side of the yellow line. All parties agreed that most of the left front and left rear tyres of that car remained on the yellow line.”

      Regarding Perez’s situation, Ferrari has even admitted that he had not been over the line at all. The Perez decision states: “At the hearing Ferrari conceded that Car 11 did not have any part of its front or rear tyres on the left of the yellow line and conceded that the Protest was unfounded.”

  27. Joe,

    Firstly, thanks as always for the notebook. I truly look forward to this after each race more than the race itself at times (hint Monaco).

    Secondly, thanks for reminding me I had a greatest hits cd of Ms. Mitchell somewhere…

    …I found it and am enjoying my morning Joe squared (coffee and yourself) with her singing about a parking lot in the background.

  28. Thank you for a thoroughly enjoyable and informative read Joe 🙂 I especially liked the bit about RB and the Team Principal of appearing on Television; Sorry Team principal Mr Horner.

  29. Re: currency fluctuations, I’d expect any business who’s revenue is in a currency different to the majority of its cost base to run a hedge to minimise volatility in operating costs. I’m not sure the weaker pound will be an immeadiate benefit to any of the teams (not withstanding Horner is completely disingenuous in his whining)

  30. As always, a great read. Thank you.

    I really found Monaco got under my skin this year. Starting with the complaints about the budget cap, while we all are dealing with the same inflation and REAL caps on our budgets. Alfa should get extra constructors points for meeting weight and being on budget.

    Then there is Monaco itself, home to all those who don’t want to help pay their countries bills, a harbour full of wasted resources and pollution production and an unraceable track. It was definately my last Monaco GP.

  31. Joe, is it the case that the budget cap was at first implemented with no provision for indexing to inflation?

  32. Joe, your point about F1 being paid in US$ is fair enough but, if you look at the areas where costs have skyrocketed its all in areas where the US$ is king one way or another: specifically: Transport, Freight, and Utilities (power essentially being set by the US$. On that basis the demand seems fair(ish) Horner histrionics notwithstanding of course
    What isn’t clear is whether, in line with inflation, income has also risen as I would have expected.

  33. Great read, top notch as always Joe! Seeing as he just turned 75, has Ron Dennis completely moved away from F1/McLaren or does he still make it to races occasionally?

  34. I have read this blog for about 10 years and I have to say, of the green notebooks, this is probably the best by a long way in the dripping sarcasm and wit.

    I do follow the currency markets a bit and wondered about the budget cap with the way the greenback has moved. Christian Halliwell sadly thinks the majority of the world are idiots who hang on his every word whereas Toto Woolf with his background in real money markets would never show that level of trying to dupe people with arguments that do not stack up. I miss the good old straight forward approach of Ron Dennis. He may have been marmite, but I like marmite

  35. Your Green Notebook saves your readers a fortune Joe.
    All this proper info and unique take on F1, and you give it to FOC.
    You luverly wonderful man.

  36. Joe, you’ve been saying that Alonso is staying where he is. Any comment on the web gossip that Piastri is heading to Williams for 2023 and possibly sooner?

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