We don’t usually cover events here at Calibre 11, but it’s worth making an exception to that rule, because the Monaco Grand Prix is an event absolutely worth a few photos. The Monaco Grand Prix is one of the highest profile events on the world sporting calendar and, it must be said, also one of the oddest, given the mix of high-powered cars and tight, narrow streets. Like overtaking? Then Monaco is not for you. But despite these challenges, it is without doubt the most famous Grand Prix, largely due to the incredible scenery and the myth of the city itself.
This was my second Monaco Grand Prix, having been in 2010 when Mark Webber came out on top. Few people probably remember that it was an Australian double that weekend, with Daniel Ricciardo- Webber’s eventual replacement at Red Bull- winning the warm-up race. While I already had my tickets for this years race, I was delighted to get an invitation to join TAG Heuer for the weekend.
The Vantage Point
The TAG Heuer Loge was located directly opposite the pits in the same grandstand as many of the television and radio commentary boxes. For those who know the track, the view follows the cars after they exit Tabac and La Piscine on the run towards Rascasse. We had a great view of the McLaren garage, the team sponsored by TAG Heuer today and a partner since 1985.
While Jenson Button (below) would have been disappointed to miss the top-10 in Saturday qualifying, his rookie teammate Kevin Magnussen had a great run and qualified eighth fastest. That’s not where McLaren want or expect to be, but it’s the reality of their position at the moment. 2015 and Honda-power can’t come fast enough, even though we’re not yet 1/3rd of the way through the season.
McLaren-Mercedes in Pitlane
The Monaco pit lane is the smallest and most cramped in Formula 1 and was packed with people in the hour leading up to qualifying- it was surprising how close you could get to the drivers- McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen below.
In fact, so chronic is the lack of space that many of the large team transporters remain parked on the hills outside of city. The pits are more mobile laboratory than your usual garage, with not a drop of oil to be seen. Below you see the two McLarens having their final adjustments ahead of qualifying, with each car stripped of their carbon-fibre body and nose.
While I spent most of the time at the McLaren pit, I couldn’t help but wander down to Martini Williams to grab a shot of one of Formula 1’s nicest touches. Every year since his death in a Williams-Renault in 1994, the Williams team has carried the famous “Senna S” on the inside nose of its cars as a tribute to the Brazilian who only started three races for the team.
This year being the 20th anniversary of Senna’s death, the Williams team have adopted a different logo that you can see below.
TAG Heuer Branding at the Track
While Rolex are the official timing sponsor (they are the sponsor of the timing..but have nothing to do with the actual timekeeping!) of the Monaco Grand Prix, TAG Heuer has had a separate sponsorship agreement with the Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM) since 2011, meaning the track is covered in TAG Heuer logos as you can see below.
The Monaco in Monaco
Well, it had to be a Monaco didn’t it? I took along my 2005 TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 17 Chronograph to the race- it’s fitted with the strap from the 2009 40th Anniversary Monaco, which I think suits the watch perfectly. Here are a few shots of the McQueen Monaco in its “natural” environment.
TAG Heuer on the Water
Of course, the thing about Monaco is that the race is only half the story of the Grand Prix weekend, with each of the teams and sponsors investing heavily in seeing who can organise the best party. TAG Heuer’s function was on-board the imposing SeaDream II. To get there you could walk…or you could take one of the Grey TAG Heuer-branded speedboats- below.
Waiting outside the entrance to the boat was the new McLaren 650S Spider, which looked sharp in the same deep blue hue as the sky. It was the first time I had seen the upgraded McLaren, and to be honest I prefer the original MP4-12C. While the original car was a little conservative, it at least had it’s own identity, while the new 650S borrows the front-end of the McLaren P1.
What about the watches?
Ah, yes watches. Not the main focus of the weekend, but there were some fantastic watches in the TAG Heuer Loge, including collectors who owned a Monaco V4, Mikrotimer 1000 and of course several Monaco Twenty-Fours. Here is TAG Heuer R&D guru Guy Semon’s watch: a MikrotourbillonS.
My sincere thanks to TAG Heuer for a great weekend and the chance to get much closer to the cars and the action than I thought possible. The Monaco Grand Prix definitely should be on everyone’s bucket list, whether you like Formula 1 or not.