The Monaco Grand Prix. Oh, how we've missed you. F1 returns to the streets of the Principality for the first time since 2019 this weekend.
It will be the first race this season to be held on a circuit that was not present on last year's Covid-19 hit schedule, providing teams with an added complication of having no data from last year's cars on which this campaign's machinery is based.
But what have we missed from Monaco in particular? In truth, there isn't a way to describe Monaco other than simply saying 'it's Monaco baby!'
What makes Monaco so special?
Yes, there are other circuits built in the wealthiest areas of the planet. Yes, there are other circuits that are tight and twisty. Yes, there are other races held in cities with a massive influence from culture, fashion, people. Yet Monaco stands above the rest.
As Ferrari is THE team in F1, Monaco feels like THE race. Ask any driver which races they want to win and the answer will always be their home event and the Monaco GP.
The historical value of a race that was held before F1 was born in 1950, the legends of the sport that have tasted glory on the circuit that tours the Principality and the glitz and glamour that comes with it. There is no other race like it.
Drama guaranteed across the weekend
The circuit itself is purely exhilarating. High-speed bursts are broken up by tight hairpins and chicanes that over the course of 78 laps require the utmost concentration. One slip of the mind and you are in the wall.
With the Mediterranean instantly meeting a mountainous coastline, the threat of rain is never too far away either.
Some of the most famous corners in world motorsport can be found in Monaco. The run-up Beau Rivage and into the Casino Square, the tunnel after Portier, the Swimming Pool and La Rascasse all have their memorable moments.
Who can forget Ayrton Senna crashing out at Portier from the lead in 1988, or the Brazilian's titanic duel with Nigel Mansell in 1992? What the circuit lacks in overtaking opportunities it makes up for in drama.
If you have never been, do whatever you can to go. There is no feeling that gets close to how bonkers it is watching F1 cars through gaps between buildings and masts of yachts. It is scarcely believable.
Oh, if the race wasn't special enough as it is, practice is held on Thursday, a long-held tradition that dates back to the fact the race was originally run on the bank holiday weekend of Ascension Day.
That resulted in the racing taking Friday off to ensure the day could be observed, and that history has continued.
Not even the podium is 'normal'. Located just to the left of the start-finish line at the Royal Box, drivers will collect their prizes sponsored this year by Louis Vuitton, of course.
Will it be Hamilton or Max Verstappen lifting the winner's trophy this weekend? Or will someone step from the shadows of the top two in the championship?
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