How secure is the future of the Monaco Grand Prix?

2023 Monaco Grand Prix

The chequered flag has only just been waved on the 80th edition of the Monaco Grand Prix, but the future of the iconic race is already being called into question and Prince Albert II has admitted that “compromises” may have to be found.

Since Liberty Media’s takeover of Formula One early in 2017, the sport has made a discernable departure from its past strategy. It is notably less Europe-centric, with an increasing number of races taking place in the Middle East and, this season, there are three races in the United States alone.

“With our American friends, tradition doesn’t mean a lot to them. We’re facing people from a different culture,” said Michel Boeri, who has been the head of the Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM) since 1972, during an interview with L’Équipe. “Until then [when Liberty Media took over], there was always a European tradition. Money was money, but only to a certain point.”

Indeed, Monaco, like many of the classic and rightly iconic European races such as Spa-Francochamps, cannot compete with the explosion of costs in recent years, which has notably been driven by the hosting of Grand Prix in the Middle East.

Photo source: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

While the exact figure that Monaco pays to host the Grand Prix is unknown, rumours in the paddock suggest it is between €18m and €20m. Qatar pays €50m, as does Saudi Arabia.

The specificities of hosting a Formula One race within the tight, narrow streets of the relatively small Principality mean that rivalling such offers will be impossible.

Italy’s Monza can pack between 300,000 and 400,000 people into the grandstands over the course of the race weekend, but Monaco can only host 27,000 per day, and 7,000 of which are standing only.

“There is a disproportion that everyone can understand. It’s violent to make us pay the same amount,” said Boeri.

Compromises have already had to be made, and as revealed by Monaco Life, the superyachts within Port Hercules have already been targeted to raise further income. Given that over the course of the three-year contract, signed last year, Monaco will face “significant increases” in the cost of hosting the Grand Prix year-on-year, in the words of Boeri, further streams of income may need to be found going forward.

“If you don’t align with our prices, there won’t be a Monaco,” Boeri was reportedly told during tough negotiations to retain Monaco’s place on the calendar.

Michel Boeri to be sidelined in future Formula One negotiaitions

Being priced out of hosting the Grand Prix in the future is an omnipresent fear, but one that the ACM and Prince Albert II are hoping to avoid. There remain two Grand Prix events before the end of the current contract, at which time a new contract will have to be drawn up and a new relationship defined.

“There will be a re-evaluation of everything as far as I know on the sponsors’ side of things, the production and the merchandising,” said Prince Albert II in a recent interview with Monaco Matin.

The negotiations will look different next time in the hopes of avoiding the same clash of cultures that mired the last round of talks, and Prince Albert has confirmed that Boeri won’t be leading the future negotiations.

“We are no longer in the Bernie Ecclestone era. Boeri hasn’t managed to adapt and maybe didn’t want to have sustained discussions,” said the Prince, who nonetheless expressed his “respect” for the man that has headed the ACM for over half a century. Michel Ferry, the vice president of the ACM, is likely to take the lead, as he did at times during the previous talks.

On Prince Albert II’s part, there is also an admittance that certain concessions may have to be made in order to conserve Monaco’s place on a growing Formula One calendar.

“If we are able to make compromises, we will find compromises,” he said.

Will Las Vegas replace Monaco?

However, Liberty Media ultimately holds all the cards, and the future of the Monaco Grand Prix may ultimately hang on the importance attributed to continuing tradition.

“They (Greg Maffei, CEO of Liberty Media and Stefano Domenicali, CEO of Formula One) told me off the record that they can’t envisage an F1 season without Monaco. They can’t say that publically, but I can,” said Prince Albert II.

Actions will speak louder than words, and money ultimately rules the roost at Liberty Media, while the ACM is increasingly aware that it cannot compete financially.

“If a Middle Eastern state puts six times more money on the table than us, we’re dead,” said Boeri.

2023 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix, source Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

The Middle Eastern money is a threat, but so is the growth of the sport in the USA, which is, at least in part, due to the popular Netflix series Drive to Survive.

Eyes are already being drawn to the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix later this year, which is a potential future competitor for the Monaco Grand Prix. Both bring together street racing and glamour, and amongst the paddock, it is questioned whether the former could replace the latter.

“We still believe in tradition,” concluded Boeri. Whether or not Liberty Media does too could prove pivotal for the future of the Monaco Grand Prix, the crown in Formula One’s calendar.


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Photo from Scuderia Ferrari Press Office