Monaco is gearing up for the annual spectacle of the Formula 1 Grand Prix this weekend. For a few days, the Principality will be the center of attention. Yet it is no longer so obvious that the Grand Prix will be held in Monaco. After long negotiations, the contracts for this and the next season were signed, but whether there will be a Grand Prix in Monaco in 2025 is still very much in question.
Michel Boeri, the president of ACM (Automobile Club Monaco) made it clear in an interview with Monaco Matin on Thursday that there is still a lot to be ironed out between the ACM and the organisers of Formula One Group before a new agreement is signed.
The 84-year-old Michel Boeri is experiencing his 52nd Grand Prix as host and knows better than anyone what he is talking about: “We have signed the contract for 2023 and 2024 to avoid falling into the abyss. But that was done reluctantly. If we hadn’t signed, we would have committed suicide. The problem is that we had to draw something that we don’t fully support. The people responsible for the signatures did their best. But we will oppose another contract with the demands of Mr Domenicali (CEO of Formula One Group), as we have stood our ground at crucial moments in the existence of the Monaco Grand Prix.”
If ACM had not signed, there would have been no GP in Monaco now, but Boeri does not want to be fooled by the organizers of F1. ” I agree with Domenicali that this is a trial period. Either things are going well between the two of us or there will be no agreement. It’s like in a marriage, neither partner can be forced to stay together.” But continued Boeri: “We will do everything we can to ensure that the Monaco Grand Prix continues because this event has a tradition and a global appeal. It would be ridiculous to sacrifice such a monument. So we will do everything we can to sign a new contract for the years after 2025, but we will not just accept everything, so we will have to start negotiating again soon. It should be clear that the GP in Miami with 400,000 spectators is very different from a GP in Monaco with 60,000 spectators. I hope that the Americans will also understand that specific agreements must be made for each GP, with necessary exceptions. In addition, we have a lot of experience to perform optimally in the small space available to us.”
On the differences of opinion between Michel Boeri and Stefano Domenicali, the ACM President said: “It is clear that the current situation is not pleasant. We have a very clear picture of what the GP should look like in the future. But now we are all being forced to impose obligations that are so different from our thinking that we are not sure whether we should go this way and swallow everything. Negotiating is sometimes very tiring. With Bernie Ecclestone it was never easy, but we didn’t need three law firms to work out the discussions. We signed a contract, which was no more than three pages. Nowadays a contract consists of 65 pages.”
Boeri also emphasised the special role of the volunteers during the GP: “We have a lot of volunteers, about 2,000-2,500. They keep the event alive. You have to hope that under new circumstances those volunteers will still feel like working very hard for an organisation that does not really appreciate the specificity of Monaco. Volunteers don’t stay long these days, about three or four years, and not twenty years like they used to. They work completely free.”
He also spoke out about a possible expansion of the circuit on the Avenue Princesse Grace. “I am not in favour of this in principle. Why add three hundred metres to the circuit, where you can’t actually overtake. I don’t see the sporting advantage of that. In addition, the Avenue Princesse Grace ensures that traffic does not get completely stuck in Monaco during the GP days.”
PHOTO: Michel Boeri