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72nd Monaco Grand Prix Sidebar



Nicholas Frankl
Senior Editor and Motorsports Correspondent
The Auto Channel
Formula 1 Racing Desk

Monaco May 22, 2014; So the 72nd Monaco Grand Prix is upon us. Without doubt still the jewel in the crown of global motorsport.

The port is oversold with $3 Billion + of yachts moored in berths that cost more than $200,000 for the week. Add in another $400,000 for charter and $200,000 for catering the champagne and caviar and you get the picture!

You can't do Monaco on a McDonald's budget!!

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The Prince and Princess will of course be attending all the best yacht parties and nothing says you have arrived more than an invitation to watch the Grand Prix from "My Yacht" moored on Quay Kennedy – the straight away after the chicane.

Since the Barcelona Grand Prix, which demonstrated once again just how dominant Mercedes are, all the teams will have been testing low down force setting. This is as much a chassis, physical grip circuit then a raw power track. But look how 90 extra horse power and a class leading chassis can put over half a minute between the leaders and the next best - Red Bull! Wow. Yes you're reading that right. What a difference a year makes!

It has been a year since Alonso incredible victory in Spain and my sources are telling me that Ferrari have all but given up major development for the season, there is simply no way to close the gap and no way to win the championship. With so much internal upheaval and an uncompetitive car you cannot really blame them.

Alonso has been patient and has been working very hard to develop and improve the car and the team but how long can he persevere with little chance of another championship in his future?

I'm thinking that with new Honda power and big manufacturer investment McLaren have already enticed him back for 2015.....

That would leave Ferrari with Kimi and probably Nico Hülkenberg, who deserves a seat and a shot at the big leagues.

The tight twists and turns of the Monaco track may help reduce the performance gap between the field and of course there is also the chance of rain and traffic disrupting a ‘pole lap’. I fear with Mercedes on pole (as our dear Michael Schumacher qualified last year but incurred a grid penalty from the prior race) then it will be another procession.

However, let's not forget, how tricky this historic track really is and that even the greats make mistakes! Remember 1988, Ayrton in the McLaren losing concentration with just a few laps to go and stacking it into the right handed at Portier. He walked home to Houston Palace 200 yards away and was still crying when Jo Ramirez reached on the phone six hours later!

About Nicholas Frankl

Nicholas Frankl has attended more than 250 F1 Grand Prix in the past 30+ years (1st race age six weeks). He has been writing for The Auto Channel since it started in 1995/6. He managed the Asprey/Ferrari partnership from 1996-99 working closely with Todt, Irvine, Schumacher and Stefano Dominicalli. Visiting the Ferrari factory annually he has a deep insight into the inner workings of the team. He is also an three time Olympic sportsman, having qualified and driven a two-man & four-man bobsleigh in Lillehammer 1994, Nagano 1998 and Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympic Games. He has raced cars in the UK and USA, competed in the Cannonball, Gumball and Bullrun rallies, is a certified private pilot and member of both The Royal Automobile Club and Automobile Club of Monaco. Throughout his life he has visited the majority of F1 tracks and shared drinks and many fun times with many of yesterday’s legends and todays hero’s.

A Word from Nicholas:

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So where does bobsleigh fit into this mix?

Well, that's me. Gilles Villeneuve I may never (unfortunately) be, but the next best thing (I'm told - and in fact can vouch for) is Formula One on ice. 1994 saw me competing as driver of the first Hungarian bob team in the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, and then onto two more Olympic Winter games. Why am I telling you this? Well, if for no other reason than that you'll at least understand how I gain some insight into the sport we love. Strangely enough, the F1 boys have a real respect for their ice cousins; the speed, G' forces and exhilaration are quite similar. This, however, is only my "off season" hobby. The reason for this intro is to allow me to say HI, From here on I hope we’ll become firm friends, as I follow the F1 circus around the world and you get to pick up all the details. Not just the results, but the gossip too and the first-hand natter you just don't get from the usual sources.

Thanks to my father, whose stories you'll also be reading, I've grown up in the world of motor sport and cars - in fact instead of a birth certificate, I think I was born with a pit pass. It's the sort of life that if you enjoy our sport is tough to beat, so I thought this would be a good way of sharing the fun.