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Rossberg on the left, Hamilton on the right.

 

Sometimes luck trumps talent with heartbreaking results. Nico Rossberg, the Lucky One, drank champagne Sunday night after winning the Monte Carlo Gran Prix. Lewis Hamilton, the supremely talented F1 driver whom the CEO of F1 called “our only true rock star,” was probably chugging straight shots after losing the Gran Prix because his team blundered, thus handing the victory to Rossberg.  Hamilton and Rossberg are fierce rivals… and team mates. There was little celebration in their team’s garage as the mighty Mercedes Benz team snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory for one of their drivers, and did the reverse for his team mate. I am a Rossberg fan, but Hamilton’s stolen victory broke my heart.

To understand what was lost, you have to understand what was on the line.‎ There are three crown jewels in auto racing: Monaco, Le Mans, and Indianapolis.  It can be argued that Monaco is the most important as F1 is the premier global series. No matter, to GP drivers its THE race to win. The very very rich, beautiful, and stylish gather in this tiny country (you can walk from one border to the next) to watch the fastest cars and the best drivers careen off its curbs of this street circuit.  There are no income taxes in Monaco, so it attracts the very rich.  It’s not by coincidence that both Rossberg and Hamilton live in Monaco and consider it their home race.  We saw no apartments for sale for less than a couple of million Euros.

Besides its prestige and glamor, Monaco is a driver’s circuit.  Monaco is a street circuit in the true sense of the word.  Even though its the shortest circuit on the schedule at two miles, drivers hold their breath through much of its narrow, blind, up and down hill twisting streets (used by mere citizens 361 days a year).  Even so, drivers average 120 miles per hour over its two miles.  Win Monaco and you go into the history books with Fangio, Moss, Clark, Hill and Schumacher.  This win is Rossberg’s third victory in a row (the other two were a triumph of talent rather than luck) and Hamilton has one to his credit.  He will have to wait for next year to get his second.

My feelings of sympathy for Hamilton didn’t last long.  He just signed a three year contract for $45M a year.  He won the world championship from Rossberg last year and he will do it again this year, just without a win in the Monaco GP column.

Karen and I spent three days at this vortex of rich, famous, stylish, fast, outlandish, and over-the-top people.  It was great, but assuredly from another world.  Only on this weekend are the ninety-nine percent allowed to mix with the one-percenters in their home turf.  And their home turf is full of equal parts incredibly beautiful homes and restaurants right next to the “what were they thinking?” over the top, butt-ugly-but-covered-in-gold palaces.  All of this is in a country three-quarters of a square mile in size crammed onto a mountain side.  The effect is stunning.

Here’s what the weekend looked like in pictures.

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We stayed in Nice, one town south on the French Riviera and an order of magnitude cheaper. Even the train ride between Nice and Monaco was interesting.  We ran into this group from LA that had just spent the week at the Cannes Film Festival and were going to check out the GP.

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Ferrari, Rolls, Mercedes in front of a hotel in Monaco.  A weekend stay costs around $12,000.

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Only service shop in downtown Monaco.  That car peeking out is a very rare Ferrari F40.  There were two in this garage.

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On the walk from the train station in Monaco down to the race circuit in Monte Carlo we catch a peek of the harbor.

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Looking to the right, we have shoulder to shoulder apartments

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Perhaps you’re interested in some casual footwear?

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Or a little something from the sea for a light lunch?

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Moored to one of the docks next to the race track, the serious money is showcased.

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Monaco street scene during race weekend.

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Even yesterday’s hero’s must make room for the event.  A statue of the greatest racing driver of all time, Juan Fangio standing next to his Mercedes in the ’50’s, is surroundd by the grand stands

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A stylish lady struts the streets of Monaco.

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There is a whole other side of the GP weekend which is spelled P_A_R_T_Y…

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Dancing on a table top at a bar set up on the race track the day before the race.  Monaco is not for the shy or meek.

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The most unique bar maid of the trip (so far)

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A parade signals the race is about to start.

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Hamilton leads Rossberg around the Casino Square corner

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It was loud and everybody was wearing ear muffs:)

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Harbor side view aboard their yachts, enjoyed by the rich and their friends.

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Surprisingly, we weren’t invited over to the yachts and had to settle for seats in the grand stands across the track:)   None the less, these seats costs as much as Super Bowl tickets:)

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Ferrari wanted me to help with their pit stops, but weren’t happy that I was wearing a rival team’s jacket.   They were recruiting young female talent as well.

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Sitting on the podium, Hamilton tries to figure out what happened.

We are now off to the Alps, although we don’t know where and how.  Asked if she wanted to stay another night on the French Riviera, Karen replied, “I’m ready to move on.”  And so we will.

6 replies
  1. Judi says:

    Glad to hear you’re having a good time. I loved Monaco also. we stayed at the Lowe’s Hotel (they give you nightshirts as a souvenier) Had fun in the Casino next door also!
    Then flew from Nice to Lucerne…nice but flight a little scary over the Alps.

  2. Debbie says:

    Hi Fred and KR,
    On my family vacation two years ago, we arrived in Monaco a few days after the Grand Prix to find signs and road blocks up and people on the Mega Yachts celebrating. Rocking Rod Steward walked by me, only in Monaco! What a beautiful place to visit and get the heck out of there before the money runs out 😉
    Lots of love, Debbie

  3. Aneth and Peter says:

    Fantastic group of photos. Makes us want to follow in your footsteps next year. Thank you for including us in the trip.
    Aneth and Peter

  4. Pat B says:

    OMG, at first glance I thought that was Karen dancing on the bar table – you go girl! I’m speechless – what a trip and what a fantastic blog, Fred. And oops, didn’t mean to unsubscribe you as I didn’t realize it was yours. Big fan now and will be following daily. Ride on and party on mi amigos y Hasta Luego, Pat

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