photo of 2005 F1 Monaco race from grandstands

Photo of grandstands at 2005 F1 Monaco race. Just to give you a sense of the “Crown Jewel of F1”. Photo credit: Ivan Ethan Loh (Flickr)

The worst part of traveling is making an effort to avoid any news or social media when there are F1 races happening.

Okay, so maybe the truly worst part is Economy class seats, or the guy in the seat in front of you who immediately reclines his seat ALL THE WAY once the wheels lift off the ground. Or trying to get to the lavatory but someone ALWAYS slips into it just before you reach it so you end up trying to play it cool as you pace the narrow aisle at a distance that is not intimidating but also not too far away to beat the next person to the lavatory.

But I digress.

Due to my trip to the Big Island of Hawaii, and visiting with family, I had to skip the F1 Cookbook for the Imola race (insert frowny face). But not to worry! Another Italian race is coming in September, so the Italian cuisine will happen — just slightly delayed (kind of like the Monaco race).

However, the good news is that I made it home in time for The Crown Jewel of F1™: Monaco*. The bad news (I guess?) is that I had just gotten home, so no trip to the grocery store, which meant relying on the pantry, whatever was left in the fridge before leaving for the trip, and getting a little creative.

Since the Monaco race was broadcast in the morning on the U.S. West Coast, how about a Monaco breakfast?

A deep dive into traditional Monagasque breakfast cuisine** revealed that shockingly Monaco tends towards the French in their morning fare: baguettes, Brie, fruit, coffee.

Peeking into the fridge and freezer we had exactly that: baguettes, Brie, fruit, coffee. Woot!

The breakfast was tasty, humble, and quite good.

Just like the race!

Now, I know there are those who watched the race and complained that nothing happened, and that it was so slow***, but that’s only if you watched the race at the surface level (i.e. after lap 1 and the Red Flag), and if you didn’t bother watching the practice sessions or qualifying.

The Monaco race demonstrated that F1 is not only about speed; it’s also about strategy. Think of it like chess, but with horsepower, TechPro barriers, and soap opera-like storylines.

Let’s start with the practice sessions: At no point did 3x world champion (and current reigning champion) Max Verstappen have the fastest time for any of the three practices; that honor went to Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc (Monaco hometown hero). Also in practice sessions, the Saubers felt the need to get friendly with the barrier walls, so two sessions saw red flags.****

Now for quali: Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc took pole position, followed by a McLaren sandwich of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris, with Ferrari teammate (for now) Carlos Sainz in the middle. The two Haas boys, who had qualified 12th and 15th, got dropped to the bottom of the grid due to their rear wings being just a little too generous in the aerodynamic arena. This will play a key part in the race.

So the race: notoriously narrow, the streets of Monaco were not meant for the large modern-day F1 cars, and apparently Danish drivers are poor judges of distance, which meant Haas driver (and Dane) Kevin Magnussen, much like a dog trying to put his head between fence posts, hit the car of Red Bull’s Checo Perez*****, who then pinballed and hit the car of the other Haas driver Niko Hulkenberg, who tried to skate past the debacle, but didn’t quite make it.******

Then there was Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, who decided that the team didn’t really need their other driver, so he hit his teammate’s car, and karma being a right bitch, managed to damage his own car enough that he was out of the race. (And apparently now out of Alpine at the end of this season.)

Oh, and Sainz’s car picked up a puncture after tangling with Piastri, sending the Spaniard down the grid from 3rd to 16th.

And that, dear friends, was the first lap.

The second lap started about 45 minutes later, after everyone replaced their tires, fixed up their cars, and refamiliarized themselves with the location of the walls on the track.

Sainz’s fairy godmother was working it, because the FIA officials decided that the race would restart using the original starting grid because the last driver hadn’t even gotten through the first sector of the track when the red flag was thrown. So Sainz would not start at 16th, but in 3rd.

Mucho lucky driver there!

The rest of the race was ducks-in-a-row with Leclerc, Piastri, Sainz, Norris, and feisty straggler Russell playing mind games with each other and constantly assessing if/when to come in for pit stops. (Strategy-wise it was fascinating; racing-wise, eh?)

In the end, the local boy won, much to everyone’s delight, including the Prince of Monaco who was the most exuberant and glowing I’ve ever seen at a Monaco race. Piastri and Sainz completed the podium, and Max Verstappen finished 6th.

Next up: Canada! I’m thinking poutine, Nanaimo bars, and a Canadian Caesar cocktail (if I can’t find any Moulson’s beer).


*I swear that should be part of a F1 Monaco drinking game: every time a commentator notes about Monaco, “The Crown Jewel of F1”, drink a shot. You’ll be on the floor by the end of the Pre-Race show.

**Hello, Wikipedia!

***Admittedly, most of these were the drivers.

****Hello, foreshadowing!

*****Why did Checo get a 2-year contract extension? Why?? It’s time for him to go.

******The damage to Checo’s car was the worst I’ve ever seen, and that’s including the fire damage to Romain Grosjean’s Haas car in 2021.