Monaco Grand Prix 2013 Preview

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This weekend the fabled Monaco Grand Prix is set to entertain us.  Monaco is the second smallest country in the world, a close runner-up to Vatican City which has a very different outlook on life.

The Monaco Principality does win the bragging rights as the most densely populated country on earth however.  Its 2.05 sq-km contains an estimated population of 36,371. 

With 515 armed police and burley private security guards prowling the marina protecting its yachts, understandably the country also clams the lowest crime rate on the globe.

But, having spent a fair amount of time in this particular pin-prick on the world’s map, I‘m duty bound to point out a few anomalies.  Firstly I’d estimated that 36,000 of that 36,371 population use Monaco in the same way unscrupulous businesses use PO Boxes as their contact address.

Walk those safe streets any night and you will see firsthand that just a handful of the apartments which make up the scores of tower blocks are illuminated.  Between the hours of 7pm and 10am the streets can best be described as morgue-like and finding signs of life anywhere might be easier on the Moon.

Admittedly the daily occurrence of a cruise liner disembarking her anxious load sees the streets bustling.  But once this throng of tourists have taken their pictures, bought their postcards, enviously peered through boutique windows and inspect restaurant menus – which spellbound and then astonish (when looking at the prices) – they eagerly return to their boat and the evening sitting of the ‘eat as much as you like buffet’ like a retreating army.  It leaves the Western Front morbidly quiet once more.

Of course the public persona of Monaco is of Lamborghinis and Bugatti Veyron’s parked opposite the casino or moored multi-million pound yachts which have harems of stunningly tanned scantly clad vestal virgins.

That reminds me.  I once, before poker was kind enough to take me to this shallow, silly and sometimes ugly concrete tundra with no centre or soul, considered paying Eddie Irvine a fortune to watch the GP on TV with the luxury of hearing the live screams of passing cars whilst sat on the back of his yacht.  It took a while but I ultimately declined when realising my ego was not that big or my penis that small.

It’s guaranteed come Sunday afternoon television producers will be whipping up their viewers into a homogenised frenzy of envy and jealousy with pictures of all that is extravagant to the point of futility and stupidity.  200mph sports cars which have never had third gear engaged on the streets of their home town; uncorked bottles of Champaign left to waste.  Neither are a sign of wealth instead medical proof of a very small brain.

Monaco’s pair of beaches, at first glance in pristine condition, epitomize the place.  They may appear as perfect as Holly Willoughby’s cleavage but, in fact, their sand is fake.  It is not even sand, it is something that resembles sand from a distance but is actually a substance which is closely related to cat litter.

You see beyond the façade, far away from the madding TV cameras, Monaco hides a fake morally grubby side that’s not wearing any underwear and it wants to show you.  That’s because the most overwhelming statistic of them all is Monaco has the highest infestation of prostitutes per square 2.05 km than any place on earth.

We are not talking those who habitually carry around a bottle of KY, a nasty case of the clap, and the scornful attitude which accompanies $100-a-trick working girls found in downtown Vegas.

Here the hoards of ‘ladies for hire’ are draped in designer clothes, they wear enough top-end jewellery to decorate a Christmas tree and find their clientele at the bars of five-star hotels.

They have names like Genevieve, Francesca and Evelina.  But no, they really do.  And, if you look like you have a few disposable million in your Coutts & Co. current account, they may discreetly slip you a business card promoting their free iPhone app offering easy ordering and payment options.

You see sex in Monaco is primarily of the commercial variety. True love is thin on the ground.  In neighbouring San Remo and St Tropez the jewels may be fake but the orgasms are real. In Monaco the jewels are real and the orgasms unquestionably fake.

It’s a sad parade of events.  Elderly filthy rich men, or just rich filthy men, parting with a sum of money for a 30 minute service which would, in the real world, clear the national debt of a small South American country for weeks.  Little wonder squeaky clean Monaco is overrun with wealthy businesswomen.

As well as offering an insurmountably superior moral backdrop Vatican City could probably offer a better racetrack than Monaco.  1996 was the last time Monaco delivered anything other than a tragically boring race.

Drivers, teams and punters all know Monaco is not the bedrock-scraping examination of man and machine an F1 race is supposed to be.  Instead it is a showground for an exhibition and normally a mindless procession.

Unsurprisingly eight of the last nine pole starters have won here because on-track overtaking is more impossible than unlikely.  Bookmakers are all too aware of the correlation between pole-setting and the likelihood of winning and naturally they are not offering get-rich-quick prices about the pole-setter making a penalty-kick style conversion.  As for a ‘safety car’, they are generally offering odds of 1/5 (equates to 83.3%) about it being deployed.

Five of the last six Monaco F1 Grand Prix have been won by four seconds or less but, with the line hovering around three seconds the men with satchels – based in Gibraltar this modern low-tax online offshore day and age – have clearly done their homework.  

Ah, Gibraltar.  Another workable F1 venue?  Population: 29,750.  Area: 2.6sq-miles.  Sounds so ridiculous it fits in nicely alongside Monaco as a sensible street circuit for my two-penneth.

Speaking as someone who skilfully identified Felipe Massa was going to take a late set of tyres in Barcelona and would re-emerge with an empty track before him.  And speaking as someone who backed his judgement at 8/1 in-running with about him claiming ‘fastest lap’ – only to see Esteban Gutiérrez take an even later pitstop and claim the accolade – I feel like I have a score to settle.

This week, with stakes kept to a minimum, ‘fastest lap’ is the primary market to play.  There is method to my madness. In addition to Gutierrez, Sergio Perez in that slow-as-a-boat McLaren is on the list of unlikely ‘fastest lap’ claimers this season.  The winning scenario is always the same.  A change of boots 90 percent into the race and an empty track before them with a car running on empty.  Job done.

I’ve visions of a 12 car snail-trail backed up behind a leading car/driver and, amidst this monotony of cars featuring tyres with more blisters than an obese burns victim, a lowly team/driver combination sat at the back of this M25-esqu procession decides they are so board a late pop into the pits will brighten everyone’s day.

Elsewhere, in the Royal Enclosure to be precise, maybe bookmakers should follow their own Royal Ascot example and offer a market on the thing the average attendee is primarily interested in… the colour of Princess Charlene’s hat.  Finally some excitement.

This week’s selections (prices courtesy of

V. Botas                     40/1                15 points

P. Maldonado           40/1                15 points

D. Ricciardo              33/1                20 points

N. Hulkenberg          33/1                20 points

J.E. Vergne               33/1                20 points

E. Gutierrez               33/1                20 points

S. Perez                     25/1                25 points

P. Di Resta                25/1                25 points

A. Sutil                       25/1                25 points

R. Grosjean               20/1                30 points

This week’s investment:              215 points.

Current profit/loss:                        +615 points.

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© Roy Brindley 2013