Monaco is a world unlike any other.
When my mam asked me what my first thoughts were, all I could think to say was ‘it’s very clean’. Not an exciting answer but my mind was in overdrive that was all I could think to say.
We didn’t stay in Monaco *hey, we’re not made of money, you know*. We stayed East of Monaco, a mire 10 minute train journey, in a small town called Menton.
The town was popular with teams as well as fans looking for a good deal as several F1 and F2 teams had also set up camp there. We found this out after bumping into members of RoGro’s HAAS pit crew as well as Force India and Williams. I found out F2’s ART team were in the area with my amazing stalking skills *thanks Alex Albon*.
After an early start from Manchester to Nice, we arrived in Nice tired, cranky and ridiculously hot *Manchester=Hoth. Nice=hotter than Mordor*. News flash: Jeans in the South of France are a no-no unless you want to try and see what it’s like to be a roast chicken.
Instead of taking a train from Nice to Menton, we opted for a taxi at 130 Euros between 3. Not the cheapest but it was the easiest option with 3 large suitcases and hand luggage.
After squaring up the bill for the apartment, and finding out the boiler wasn’t working until Tuesday *Just our luck. Cold shoulders all round*, we went for a wander to the supermarket to stock up on the essentials; water, bread, croissants, coffee, tea and milk *British problems*.
We played tourist for the rest of the day, starting off by taking the classic balcony view picture for Instagram and updating my mam that I was safe in France. We had a slightly long winded walk round to the centre of Menton and found ice cream a plenty. And HAAS F1 team, not that we noticed until we had walked past and received the obligatory ‘Are you staying in Menton? You walked past us.’
Monday was pretty boring, I won’t lie. It was all about unpacking, getting set up and discovering badly dubbed English to French films. Men In Black 3 in French is an experience you all need to endure.
Second day was predominantly spent on the beach, drinking cocktails, enjoying the sunshine and making friends.
Warning: French single alcohol measures are not like British ones. Think double verging on triple measures, more half and half than shot of spirit and mixer.
I bought a new bikini for the occasion, a Bravissimo special. Finding bikinis that are pretty and supportive is beyond difficult when you’re above a DD cup so I was over the moon with this little beauty plus, even though I am massively self-conscious about my stomach area, I felt pretty good about myself for once.
Beach afternoon over with, we went for our first venture into Monaco to suss out where we needed to go for our seats and for the charity football match. My idea obviously, why would I pass up the chance to watch Daniel Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat and Antonio Giovinazzi running around in shorts? DUH!
It’s fair to say that some of them will not be making the career change to footballers anytime soon. Felipe Massa being the only exception to that rule as the man is a damn machine on the pitch!
Props to Felipe Massa for his post match interview too. Not for the actual content of it because I have zero idea what was said but for the fact he was attempting to keep an eye on Felipinho, who was playing with a football about 30 feet away, whilst giving this interview.
I got exceptionally close to the man I ‘jokingly’ keep referring to as my future husband Antonio Giovinazzi. HOWEVER! If you follow me on Twitter, you will know that I bailed like the massive chicken that I am and didn’t end up speaking to him even though he was inches from me. I was far more disappointed in me than anyone else could ever be *cries in shame*.
We wandered through the many streets on the search for food and WiFi, casually bumping into several of the junior drivers as well as a FE driver. Such a bizarre feeling to just see them wandering around in such close proximity *don’t judge me, Silverstone is not like this at all*.
We skulked around the Red Bull Energy Station because, if you were unaware, I practically fund Red Bull with my constant merchandise purchases. We played the fan card, taking pictures and selfies with the beautiful cars and using it as a very obvious reference point for meeting up with one of the Williams pit crew.
We were then ‘snuck’ into the pits. By ‘snuck’ I mean, we wandered through a door we had actually found the day before whilst exploring. Security is a bit lapsed in Monaco, their attitude is very casual. The guard only protested twice before letting us in.
Now for the tricky part. ‘So you just need to hop over the barrier’. A seemingly simple idea except, strangely, we had all opted for skirts that day. There was no ‘just hopping the barrier’. We stood for a good 5/10 minutes attempting to work out the best way to do this without flashing the anyone which, by the time we had worked it out/got up the courage, was EVERY MECHANIC IN THE PIT LANE!
I may be exaggerating but we at least had 4 garages worth.
Elegance and grace went out the window and we all channelled our tomboy roots. I would give my barrier hopping a 10/10 for gymnastic ability.
P.S. We found thee most extra underground pass ever. Mirrors EEEEEEVERYWHERE!
On our way home, we had a collective blonde moment and ended up in Italy…
This sounds far worse than it was. Our stop on the train was the last one before Italy and we were sure it stopped at our stop. AHAHAHA, NOPE! We took a taxi home *an hours wait for the next train, we’ll pass* and it only set us back 30 Euros so not bank breaking for a moment of stupidity.
Free practice day and the temperatures were SOARING! I stupidly wore makeup thinking it would stay put. AHAHAHA no, I was a melting mess by the time we’d reached the end of our street, let alone the track.
As it was free practice and midday, we didn’t want to risk turning into roast potatoes so we went on a walking tour to find Sephora. Admittedly, the views on this venture were spectacular. We watched Free Practice 1 on the go and found several different routes to the train station instead of how to actually get to the shopping centre.
I understand that Monaco is a hilly/mountainous place but JESUS CHRIST! I have never climbed so many stairs in my life. If you live in Monaco, everyday is leg day, let me tell you.
After finding the shopping centre, spending some Euros and grabbing some lunch, we headed back to the track to find our seats at the pool complex.
We enjoyed the sunshine with some ice cream whilst watching FP2 and F2 qualifying. We watched as Palmer’s car gave out and he wandered by us without any security and undisturbed by ‘fans’.
As we were close to the ‘improved’ kerb, we got a front row view of Matsushita’s crash as well as a little crash between some of the F2 boys. You know it’s only qualifying, don’t you, guys? Just a reminder.
We were also treated to the Ferrari fans coming out loud and proud with their flag.
There isn’t exactly much to say when it comes to Free Practice or F2 qualifying. It was a relatively tame without much to report that hasn’t already been said over the past few weeks. Even track side, FP was not exactly the most enthralling.
With qualifying being on Thursday, Friday left us with some time to chill before the F2 race.
We explored little streets and found the longest staircase in the entire world. By the time we reached the top, I don’t think there was any moisture left in my body and we had to have a sit down to regain our breathe. Fitness icons, we are not.
We opted for sitting in the opposite side of the pool complex for F2 *you’re allowed to sit anywhere for the F2 race FYI*, giving us a lovely view of the yachts, trucks and corners if you just turned a little.
The stands were surprisingly busy for the F2 feature race. F2 races are normally sparsely attended but, with the race not coinciding with any F1 action, more fans seemed to want to check out the action. Maybe they just needed their fix of fast cars? I do know that people who don’t stick around for junior races such as GP3 and F2 miss out the best action on the duller circuits.
Now, I’m used to some home crowd love, I have been to Silverstone, but it was lovely to see the support from locals for Charles LeClerc *plus he is my favourite junior driver so it made me even happier*. It did turn out to be his friends and his own home but the effort they went through to keep the flags down and readable was spot on.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t his day and, even with the love of the locals and other fans, it wasn’t meant to be.
BUT! Joy for us and homeboy Oliver Rowland from Sheffield *in the words of Sky* who scored a top step finish and we cheered. We had taken bets on who would win. One of us won. One of us was devastated to see how upset their driver was with their performance. The other maintains their driver had a good pace and did well.
Our night consisted of cocktails at a local bar called ‘Mini Pub’ in Menton *100% recommend it*.
Not only did it have vintage F1 action on the screens, they also did F1 related cocktails.
A Grand Prix, anyone? *Champagne, juice and a spirit I’ve forgotten*
Another hot day but this time, we were trekking to the hill for some GA action. Packed doesn’t cover it but we found a spot where we had a decent view of some of the track, a screen and the Ferrari/Mercedes garages.
If you looked over the wall, you could perfectly see all the F2 cars getting ready to make their way to the grid so I played creep of the week and watched them all getting sorted.
We all know what happened in qualifying so I won’t bore you with discussing it again and if you don’t know what happened then you’re two races behind, sorry.
Until Friday’s feature race, as soon as the F1 qualifying was done, the stands cleared for F2’s sprint race and we shifted to a better spot with a better view for snooping.
Once again, heart-break for the lovely LeClerc and all I wanted to do was cuddle to little sweetheart.
The majority of the race was mediocre, nothing special or any fireworks, but it was a worthy victory for DeVries.
Our night, however, was eventful.
We received an invite from a well-known club at the start of the day in return for some free press via our blogs but were told that they’d ‘get back to us if they can get our names on the list’. Naturally, being girls, once we got in and had dinner, we started getting ready. By the time we had finished it was nearing 10pm and still no word.
I’d sent them a few messages during the day *I like to know what is going on* and heard nothing back which I put down to a busy day entertaining.
At 10:30, we made other plans at La Rascasse and left for Monaco.
Set with our 10 Euro Vodka/Red Bulls, we made our way through the insane amount of people who were spread out down La Rascasse between several bars until we found a spot to breath and talk *and watch some girls dancing/playing with fire. Bizarre doesn’t cover it*.
12am, I received a message to say that we were on the list. Now, getting a message at that time confused me. Did they mean the Saturday or the Sunday? Last entry was 11:30 so what were we supposed to do? None of us were dressed for it.
I sent them a simple message asking if they meant for Saturday or Sunday and if they meant for Saturday, apologies we couldn’t go and if they would let us, could we go Sunday instead. Simple, polite if I do say so myself.
The response? ‘Shame you didn’t turn up’. A genuine mistake because of the timing of the response.
I was devastated to have not been able to go as it was my dream to attend one of their events but the response made me feel lower than dirt.
Our night was fun otherwise. The atmosphere was something else just because of the sheer amount of people crammed into one small space. We caught a lift home via Williams which saved us running for the last train *no thank you* or forking out for a taxi.
The walk to our lift was along the harbour, perfect chance to get some nighttime shots of the yachts so I could dream of being able to afford a yacht and forget that I can barely afford a Costa. The walk was into the complete unknown and I did say several times that I felt like I was being taken off to be murdered.
I wasn’t, if you hadn’t noticed…
Race day was even busier. We once again trekked up the hill in sweltering heat, collecting lunch on the way and found a spot to slot in with a teeny amount of shade from the midday sun.
Now I’ll show you the true ‘joy’ of going GA at a street circuit like Monaco. It’s elegant. It’s once in a lifetime. But how much do you see?
Answer: very little. There was space to see through the tree. A small gap and, with the use of my camera and Twitter, we could keep up to date with the majority. Nice trees, well-kept and full of life which didn’t really help with our view.
The ‘stands’ were so crowded that there were many people precariously climbing up the very rocky, steep hillside for a better view. Just watching them getting up and down filled me with dread especially with the majority wearing less than appropriate footwear. Think less walking boots, more flip-flops.
We could see part of the track. Can you guess where? Oh yes, THE POOL COMPLEX! 4 days in a row, we could see the same section from different distances. This did mean that we knew where the screens were so, using the surprisingly good zoom on my camera, we could keep check of who was where.
As you can see, mid race, the stands cleared as bored fans left so we got some breathing room finally to enjoy the last few laps.
I wish I could say the place erupted when Vettel claimed victory but I’d be lying. There was a very extravagant, Monaco style celebration though when all the yachts decided to blow their horns for what felt like a year.
The atmosphere when we were surrounded by Italian fans for the national anthem, however, was something else and secured it for us on our choice of Monza next year.
As it was our final night, we decided to have farewell drinks at our favourite ‘Mini Pub’ with the addition of our new member of the group in the form of Joe, our Williams sneaker.
Lots of drinks and some shots to say goodbye to the loveliness of Menton and Monaco.
Expense: 7/10 *They have a McDonald’s and if you look, you can find some decent deals*
General Experience: 8/10
Overall, Monaco is an experience that everyone needs to go through. The setting is beautiful, the accessibility to pits and drivers is like no other and the track is iconic.
Apologies for the length of the post and the lateness.
Hope I’ve encouraged you to see Monaco or even Menton. Just pay that extra for Grand Stand seats so you can actually see something.