Sorry it's taken me a while to write this all up, but I've finally got round to editing some footage together from my weekend at the Monaco Grand Prix! As usual with these experiences, I'm just gonna ramble. I'll try and break it down into sections, but this is just gonna be a monologue mainly, so I do apologise. Hopefully you'll enjoy it though. I want to try and express the emotion I felt on the day!Background
I went with my girlfriend, and she has been going on holidays to the south of France with her family for over 10 years, and they always stop by in Monaco for a day or two, but as they've never been into F1, they've only ever seen it without all the barriers and pit buildings and grandstands. So with me obviously being an F1 nut, her parents very kindly sent us both on a lovely weekend away together to combine my passion for F1 with her favourite place! As you'll probably guess, we had the most incredible time, and without meaning to sound like Lewis Hamilton, I genuinely feel so blessed to have been given this amazing treat, I honestly don't know what I've done to deserve it.Me being a little kid
On the journey to our apartment, on the Friday, we got a bus from the airport that happened to go through the top of Monaco in the mountains. Everyone on the bus was just casually looking out the window, they'd probably seen it all a hundred times before, but there I was, moving my head up and down and around, catching glimpses of the harbour section of the circuit between the buildings and the rocks! I've seen so many photos of this place and have dreamt of going there, so to actually see it in person was just amazing. Apparently I looked absolutely mad, but who cares!Arriving in Monaco - Atmosphere, food and drinks
We got the train into Monaco, and my girlfriend was absolutely amazed at the madness of it all! As she's only ever been to Monaco once the track has all gone, it's always been quiet and relaxing. But it was just mad, and that was brilliant! Considering the only other Grand Prix I've been to is at Silverstone, I can't describe the difference between the two. At Silverstone, you get a greasy burger, or a hot dog or pizza for your lunch, and a coffee or tea perhaps. You bring your wellies and an umbrella just in case, and the fans are all true British passionate fans.
At Monaco meanwhile, it's lined with designer shops, and proper nice restaurants! It's just the weirdest thing, being in the circuit one moment, and the next thing you're walking past Gucci, Chanel and Dior shops! It's absolutely mad. The people are different too. You can just tell the fans aren't quite as rugged and passionate. Sure, you do get them now and again, but everyone's a bit more chilled out in Monaco. In the grandstand for example, the crowd were very tame and well behaved when it came to cheering or reacting to things. Whereas at Silverstone, they properly cheer and get in the spirit of it. It's not a bad thing, it's just different.
In terms of food and drink... 'rip off' is the only way to describe it. All the restaurants know that everyone will be desperate for something to eat or drink, so they have special F1 menus where they bump up all the prices. We managed to find a table at a pizza / pasta restaurant for lunch on Saturday, and my ham and mushroom pizza was €21, and a Caesar Salad was €25! Add in a couple of soft drinks for us, and the bill came to about €65!
Then in the circuit itself, we were absolutely roasting in the grandstand, with no shade at all. We were applying the sun cream relentlessly, we must've looked like such tourists. So I went to get us 3 bottles of water, and a bottle of coke. €16 for that! Absolute daylight robbery. The only thing that was cheaper than Silverstone was the race programme I think. That was €10, compared to about £15 for the British GP version.Fan Zone, and a selfie with Felipe Massa!
Before we went to our grandstand, we checked out the Fan Zone. There was a Ferrari 2017 car on show, Red Bull had a couple of displays, we entered a competition with Johnnie Walker to win a lap around the circuit on the Sunday with Mika Hakkinen in a McLaren P1, and got a picture with the Monaco GP signs (which the girlfriend was very happy about, because Leclerc had held the same sign as her, and Leclerc is her absolute favourite). I would love to post some of these photos, and while I know we're all cool here, at the end of the day it's still a public forum, so I'm gonna have to refrain I'm afraid. We looked very happy and excitable in all of them though, believe me!
Then just as we happened to be at the Fan Zone, Felipe Massa came out on the stage and did an interview, and he came out at the end to sign some autographs and take some selfies, so I managed to grab a quick one. He didn't look particularly happy, but hey ho, he's been doing it for 15 years, so I can't really blame him. Saturday - Grandstand O
This is where we watched all the action from. This is a grandstand located on the harbour itself, right opposite the swimming pool. It was definitely the place to be on Saturday, because it had a view of both swimming pool chicanes and therefore we saw Max Verstappen have his accident in FP3, as well as a big crash for Sean Gelael in Formula 2 later on. It was also superb seeing the cars go all out, skimming the barriers on their qualifying runs!
I purposely chose this grandstand because I knew we'd get a good view of the cars wherever we sat, be it top, bottom, left or right. Another option was Grandstand K (located at Tabac corner), but the view wasn't guaranteed to be great from all locations. Yes, it was super from the top and to the left, but down the bottom, or to the right, not so good. Grandstand O was just super though, and I can't recommend it enough.
We spotted Martin Brundle walking around doing his bits for Sky Sports, and I also saw Hermann Tilke wandering around which was cool. I wonder if he has anything to do with potential track changes when they extend the land up at Portier corner in a couple of years...
The only thing that was a shame was actually how loud the commentary was over the loud speakers. I know the F1 cars aren't as loud as they used to be, but they're still bloody noisy, yet they didn't manage to drown out the sound. That speaker was so damn loud, and whenever a team radio clip came on, the hiss of the radio was just horrendous. In the Formula 2 race (where the engines are quiet), we could hardly hear the cars because the speaker was so loud. That was a shame. But I can't complain too much, because we had a super view, and we could see half of the pit lane too, so it was just brilliant being there!
Here's a compilation of some video from the day.Sunday - Cafe de Paris
At first, we were just going to go on the Saturday, but my girlfriend's parents happen to be good friends with one of the waiters at the Cafe de Paris, which is in Casino Square. The Cafe was fully booked, but as they always say, 'it's not what you know, it's who you know'. That is absolutely the case, because their friend managed to get us a table there for the Sunday. That was just the icing on the cake.
When we arrived, our booking confirmation was exchanged for two tickets, and our waitress started leading us to our table. As they were catering for 1,000 people on the day, only about 100 seats were available on the terrace at the front, and guess where our table was... the end row, as close to the circuit as possible!
I couldn't believe it. I went and found our friend who got us that table and probably shook his hand for a good 10 seconds, just thanking him over and over for putting us where we were. You could tell we were an extra addition, because all the other rows of tables stopped at the same point, whereas our row had an extra little table just for us. Incredible.
We sat down at about 12.00 and started off our complimentary bottle of wine, and the starter was served. I had a parma ham and mozzarella dish, which was absolutely delicious. For my main, I just had steak and chips, but holy ****, that was the most delicious, succulent steak I've ever eaten in my life. I haven't stopped thinking about that steak, and it's been 3 weeks now! My dessert was a lemon panna cotta, again delicious.
We finished our bottle of wine quite quickly, so I ordered another one, and our waitress told us it was on the house! That bottle must've been worth at least a good €40, so that was so generous of her to do that for us! By the time the race started at 15.00, I was absolutely slammed.
Anyway, the race started, and we all stood right by the fencing to get the best view possible. The view wasn't amazing, we could literally see the tops of the cars for about a second as they went past the grandstand, but being able to sip wine, have a delicious meal, a comfy seat and shade, it was so comfortable. I couldn't complain.
I've put a short video together of our day there, and as you can tell at the end, my cheering got a bit over the top... blame it on the alcohol! I absolutely went for it when Ricciardo came past us as he won, and when Adrian Newey drank a shoey!Summary
And then that was about it! What an amazing experience, one I will never forget. We walked about half the circuit afterwards but we were so knackered from the travelling and walking from the previous couple of days, we could only manage the harbour section, but there's some photos from our wandering in the album below.
Overall, the whole weekend was just a huge dream come true for me. As I'm sure you'd all agree, I think it's any hardcore F1 fan's dream to go to the Monaco Grand Prix at some point in their lives. I didn't expect it to be so soon, but I felt like a little kid the whole way through. I kept pinching myself the whole time, I couldn't believe I was actually there!
I'm going to cherish that weekend for a very long time, because I doubt I'll be going back there for years now. But oh my god, AMAZING!
P.S. Sorry I rambled for so long. If you've made it all the way to the end, I applaud you.PHOTO ALBUM BELOWhttps://imgur.com/gallery/nH5DREF