Monaco this year was very close to being a standard flag to flag race. A misstep on both Hamilton and the team’s strategy cost him the win. Aside from 17 year old sensation, who is also 17 years of age, seeing his name day but ten and seven times, who is just 17, Max Verstappen is a proper driver and his coming of age – pun totally intended – will be an excellent story to follow in the years to come. However media coverage these days is far from the all access coverage it used to be. Instead they rely on fancy GCI graphics and pre recorded segments about men in blazers walking the pre race ready track. Fortunately there’s a fantastic film on Netflix right now (check your local listings) which gives unimaginable insight into a drivers routine on a weekend like the Monte Carlo Grand Prix.
Weekend of a Champion follows Jackie Stewart as he prepares for the 1971 Monaco GP. Filmmaker Roman Polanski shows us unprecedented access into the 4 day long event. We will never see behind the scenes access to something like this again. With drivers every minute being planned out for media events or pre race briefings there’s hardly any time for a film crew to tag along. Not to mention with costs in the hundreds of millions every season secrecy plays a major part in todays Formula 1.
At the time Jackie Stewart is driving for Ken Tyrrell in a Ford powered chassis. A brand new car that is still being sorted out when they arrive in the French principality. Theres something special about this period of F1 with exposed engines, velocity stacks proudly displayed on top, and zany ideals like dual disc brakes (thats two rotors at one corner).
Seeing onboard of Sir Jackie manhandling the Tyrrell through the relatively sparce streets of Monaco is truely a sight. I am one for debunking popular beliefs. While everyone may consider Senna’s Monaco Pole onboard some of the most amazing bit of vintage F1 footage the video of Jackie fighting to dismal consitions into San devout is spine tinglingly good. This also took place more than two decades before Senna’s famous 1990 onbaord lap.
It’s also astonishing how little there is in the way of safety measures. There just open track almost everywhere, the pits are just pulling over to the side of the front straight. Before Aryton, Jackie was the first driver to be vocally outspoken about improving safety for the drivers.
Its astonishing to see how much the track has changed. The Nouvelle Chicane (after the tunnel) back in 71 is just a left right flick instead of the heavy brake and rotate corner that is is today. Also the tunnel has grown significantly in length since the early days. Look how short the things was back then!
If you’ve never seen it before it’s well worth the watch. If you have it’s definitely worth watching again after this weekend’s event to truly grasp how much the sport has evolved. F1 these day’s feels very bland, nothing like the spectacle it once was. The only thing that separates the front markers from those taking up the rear is aero packages. There was something fantastic about the wild ideas that were being experimented with back in the ‘70s. That would make for more interesting racing.