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F1 urged to improve overtaking chances at Monaco Grand Prix

Max Verstappen F1 Monaco Grand Prix

Red Bull Racing’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen drives during the second practice session of the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix on May 24, 2024 at the Circuit de Monaco, two days ahead of the race. (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT / AFP)

MONACO — Red Bull boss Christian Horner added his voice to those calling for ways to improve overtaking at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Formula 1’s wide and heavy cars have almost nowhere to pass, and often follow each other around the tight and sinewy 3.3-kilometer (two-mile) street circuit.

“They’re so big now, arguably they’re too big to be racing around these streets because you can barely get two side by side,” team principal Horner said on Friday. “Could we open up some areas that could potentially create at least an overtaking opportunity, and what would it (take) to achieve that? I think that’s something that Formula 1 is acutely aware of.”

READ: F1: Max Verstappen wins Monaco Grand Prix as Sergio Perez draws a blank

F1’s iconic race has been part of the principality’s history since 1929 and remains a firm driver’s favorite; with huge status for sporting and historical reasons.

The late Ayrton Senna won Monaco a record six times; Michael Schumacher and Graham Hill did so five times each. Other multiple winners include Lewis Hamilton, Stirling Moss, Alain Prost, Juan Manuel Fangio — all F1 greats.

The race is arguably as much engrained in Monaco’s identity as Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier; as the famed casino, or Prince Albert’s grandiose palace perched high over the start-finish line.

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Film and sports stars still flock to Monaco on race weekends, some dashing over from the nearby Cannes film festival. Filmmaker George Lucas, for example, has been a regular attendee over the years.

It’s the place to be seen for the rich and famous, with huge yachts bobbing around the harbor, glamor on display, and Champagne flowing.

“We race here because of the history, the heritage, and it’s a phenomenal venue. There’s a great deal of prestige in winning this race,” Horner said. “But to protect the next 70 years here, I think that there needs to obviously be some evolution.”

That’s mainly because the race often has an anti-climactic and processional feel to it.

READ: New deal for Monaco as F1 sets record 24-race calendar

There is almost nowhere to launch an attack, cars slow down heading into every anxiety-inducing turn close to a crash barrier, and strategy is reduced to a minimum.

The most exciting action is usually on Saturday, when drivers get the pure thrill of tackling Monaco at higher speeds and where getting pole position makes such a difference.

“By and large this race will be won tomorrow afternoon in qualifying,” Horner said. “In these cars now, you’ve got to be very lucky to pull off an overtake.”

Horner’s comments echoed those made by seven-time world champion Hamilton. While the Mercedes driver has a great fondness for Monaco, which he has won three times, he says the skinny course nullifies racing.

“I wish we had bigger roads and the track could be wider,” he said. “But I don’t think that’s ever going to be the case in Monaco, because it’s just a small place.”

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Hamilton agrees the spectacle needs be improved.

“They should come up with some new formula for it rather than it just be the same,” he said. “Maybe having special tires for this race so you have more pitstops would create more variability.”

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz Jr. offered his view.

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“If there’s an opportunity to create an overtaking spot around Monaco, have a look at the city, have a look at the layout,” he said. “Make an effort to make that happen.”

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