I haven’t published a lot of posts this month, as I’ve attended the Barcelona and Monaco Formula 1 races, spending more than a week at each location. Fortunately, I’ve taken a lot of pictures, especially at Monaco. If you followed me on Twitter, you’d have seen most of these photos “live” as I posted them there as well.
In Spain, the track is located about 30km from downtown Barcelona and as a result, Formula One doesn’t seem to vibe that much in the city. Barcelona is always packed with tourists, and apart from a few billboards and advertising signs (mostly from Martini), you couldn’t really tell the difference from a normal weekend. While in Monaco, the Grand Prix weekend means that half of the roads in the 2 km² (0.78 square mile) principality are closed and it is turned into the temporary capital of Formula One, with billboards of F1 sponsors all over the place.
Click on the pictures to start a slide show:
On any regular day, Monaco stands apart from the rest of the world, but during Grand Prix weekend, it turns crazy: the whole week is all about showing off the biggest yacht or the most exclusive car and attending (or throwing) the most outrageous parties. The harbor is packed with superyachts, the streets are a supercar gridlock and you need to be part of the in-crowd to be allowed into the exclusive parties at the yachts or in the nightclubs.
Just a few examples of things that only happen in Monaco:
At casino square, which is a candy store for supercar lovers any day of the year, you’ll find at least a Bugatti Veyron or LaFerrari parked during GP week (at the moments the track is open to the public), and I even witnessed a Bentley Continental GT back up into the nose of a parked LaFerrari, with the leg of the valet-boy in-between. The boy’s leg was bruised, the LaFerrari’s nose was cracked and the Bentley owner’s wallet was emptied in no time.
While at the car wash, an older man in a Mercedes-Benz S600 V12 started talking to me, and the conversation came to a point where he talked about himself as a “just a common man” (as compared to the rich folks). I guess it’s very hard to stand out from the crowd in Monaco, and apparently you’re a total nobody if you don’t at least have an AMG.
Of the six LaFerrari’s sold in Monaco last year, I’ve spotted three, and I’ve seen two of the five Porsche 918 Spyders that have been registered in the principality. And from what I’ve seen on the streets, I can only confirm that Porsche is the #3 best selling brand in Monaco, placing no less than 3 cars in the top-10 of best sellers, and that both Ferrari and Bentley sell more cars here than brands like Renault and Opel, Rolls Royce sells more cars than Kia, McLaren sells more cars than Alfa Romeo and Lamborghini sells as many cars as Skoda. Even the Bugatti Veyron, at 2 units in 2014, sells as many cars as Mazda or Mitsubishi!
Do you wonder if there are any other cars in Monaco besides exotics and luxury SUVs? Sure, but even those are top-of-the-line, underscoring Monaco’s residents must be total petrolheads, happy to take their cars for a spin in some of the mountain roads that lead out of the city. You know, the roads you see in the Monte Carlo rallye. For example, I spotted more Abarth 500 EsseEsse (the 180hp version) than regular Fiat 500, more Audi S1 than regular Audi A1 and the Mercedes-Benz A-Class seems to be only available as the A45 AMG. Considering the number of spots in the streets of the principality, the Audi RS6 must be Monaco’s favorite shopping vehicle, for those who find the boot of their Ferrari too small.