Monaco 2013 vs. Monaco 1957

Monaco circa 1957.

The original intention for this piece was to contrast the Monaco Grand Prix circa 1957 with the upcoming 2013 Monaco GP.  Now, I could bore you with facts and statistics about why technical differences between the circuit and cars of yesterday versus today.  But, I had a realization; with Monaco, it is not about the differences.  The magic about Monaco is that it’s aura of excitement is essentially unchanged today from over a half-century ago.  The first Monaco Grand Prix took place in 1929.  By 1950, the Circuit de Monaco was already something of an anachronism.  But, the magic of Monaco seemed to keep pulling the Formula 1 circus back to it.  By 1957, Monaco’s fixture on the F1 Championship Calendar was well-settled.  Sure, there are differences – and some important ones at that.  But, the fundamental essence of Monaco and all that the race stands for has really not changed in the last sixty years.

There are a handful of tracks that have survived time and remained largely in service since the throughout the ages.  Spa-Francorchamps and Monza are prime examples.  But, time has taken a toll on souls of these tracks.  Curves altered and chicanes added, the tracks of yesterday that remain today have largely lost their original character.  But, Monaco is different.  For example, let’s consider Spa-Francorchamps, the grand old circuit from Belgium.  If you looked at Spa’s “bus-stop” chicane in 1957, you would see, as expected, a bus stop.  If you looked today, you would see nothing resembling the image of the corner in 1957.  Sure, it’s still called the “bus-stop” chicane, but it’s been a closed circuit for quite some time, the bus-stop is long gone, and the corner altered several times over.  Now, if you look at most any corner of Monaco in 1957, you would immediately recognize the resemblance to it’s modern equivalent.

How the Monaco GP has changed.

It’s the money.  In 1957, Formula 1 was still a privateer’s game.  In the 1960’s, an uneasy marriage was formed between cigarette manufacturers and Formula 1.  Cars no longer bore the colors of their manufacturer’s country, but rather the team’s official smoke.  Soon, other industries jumped on board.  F1 has been awash in oceans of money ever since.  But don’t get me wrong, it is this endless cash-flow that funds the perpetual development of the sport.  Then, posted the following video of Jay-Z presenting Monaco, in his 2006 video, “Show Me What You Got.”  On the one hand, good call on posting the video.  On the other hand, it really got me thinking about the stratification of wealth.  To some extent, it’s almost unreasonable to contend that the stratification of wealth has not impacted Formula 1.  To some extent, F1 is the show piece of conspicuous consumption.  But, for me, Formula 1 is great in spite of the money and not because of it.  But, still, I’d like to compare and contrast Monaco 2013 style, with Monty Carlo circa 1957.  So, if you’re not a hip-hop fan, you might skip the next video.  But, if you are, check out Monaco, Jay-Z style:

Now, the next video is some BBC coverage to bring you up to date on this weekend’s grand prix at the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix.  If you are going to watch the race on Sunday–which I highly encourage–then this video is a great introduction into the various story-lines for this weekends race.  But also, if you watch the video, keep an eye on the background and b-roll for the signs of wealth around the track.  They say the greatest concentration of wealth, in the world, is in and around the paddock on a  Grand Prix weekend.  I can’t verify this, but I struggle to find another situation with such a regular gathering of some of the world’s wealthiest businessmen.  Carlos Slim and Richard Branson are just a couple examples.

1957 Monaco GP.

As per my practice, every post, I also cover a vintage F1 Grand Prix.  Race by race, I’m tip-toeing the history of this strange sport.  With misguided enthusiasm, I tried to combine the Jay-Z video with footage of the 1957 Monaco Grand Prix.  It would have been a similar May weekend as the 2013 Monaco GP, but the weather was a bit better than what I saw at qualifying earlier this morning.  As for the video, all I can say is that my zeal often exceeds my skill.  But, what follows is a tongue-in-cheek throwback to Fangio’s dominant performance back in 1957.  So, with my apologies for it’s roughness, here are the highlights of the ’57 Monaco GP set to Jay-Z’s “Show Me What You Got.”  It’s a bit more Grace Kelly than Kim Kardashian.