Lewis Hamilton has insisted the Monaco Grand Prix must change if it is to appeal to fans. The world champion highlighted the difficulties in overtaking on the narrow streets of Monte Carlo, which boasts a spectacular location but often less than stellar racing.
Hamilton, who leads the Formula One world championship by 14 points from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, has won in Monaco three times but with modern F1 cars so heavy and wide, passing is all but impossible. Last time, in 2019, Hamilton took victory for Mercedes after defending his lead on tyres that had to last 68 laps. Despite being harried to the end by a charging Verstappen there was no way the Dutchman could get past.
“There is zero opportunity to overtake in a race but that has been the case for some time, it needs to change, we have had the same format for years,” said Hamilton. “It is the best venue, the most beautiful place we get to race at but you know it is never exciting for fans.
“On the list of difficult places to overtake it’s off the scale, highly unlikely you would get the opportunity and I don’t think fans enjoy that. I don’t know what the solution is but I hope when we look forward it can be a more exciting race.”
The race was cancelled last year because of the pandemic but returns this weekend, and 7,000 fans will be allowed to attend the meeting. It was the second grand prix on the inaugural F1 world championship in 1950 and has been a fixture on the calendar since 1955. There is no indication there are any plans to address how to enliven the racing in Monaco, however, although F1 is already testing an alteration of its format at three races this season with the introduction of a sprint qualifying race.
Elsewhere in the paddock, Lando Norris has signed a new contract with McLaren. The British driver, now in his third year in F1, made his debut with McLaren in 2019 and is enjoying the best season of his career. He is fourth in the world championship. After a number of years with an uncompetitive car McLaren are now resurgent and Norris has agreed a new multi-year contract to stay with the team.
He was optimistic that McLaren had everything in place to enable him to compete with Hamilton and Verstappen in the near future. “I quite often go around the factory, checking in on everyone and seeing the progress and the work they’re doing,” he said. “It’s very reassuring and encouraging to see how hard they’re working.
“That is good for now but also hopeful for the future and encouraging. I have the confidence in them and they have the confidence in me and hopefully we can put it together and make that next step.”