Originally scheduled for this weekend, the 78th Monaco Grand Prix would have seen the Principality swelled with visitors – racing teams, entourages, spectators and tourists alike, all buzzing with excitement. Instead, the small country is in phase two of lockdown, still with its borders under tight control. But it doesn’t mean that the spirit of the race will not be felt! In fact, the track is prepared for one of F1’s fastest drivers to take a spin.
As part of the filming of a short film starring the Monegasque F1 champion Charles Leclerc at the wheel, the street track of the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix will be closed to traffic and pedestrians on Sunday 24 May 2020 between 6:45 and 9 am.
The following spots are affected:
- Boulevard Albert 1er
- Sainte Devote Passage
- Avenue d'Ostende
- Place du Casino
- Avenue des Spélugues
- Louis II Tunnel
- Boulevard Louis II
- United States Dock
- Avenue JF Kennedy
- Route de la Piscine
- Scorpion fish turn
The government issued a notice thanking residents for their understanding, and in compensation invite them to watch the rare spectacle from their balconies ‘overlooking the circuit to enjoy the show!’ It’s certainly a good reason to get up that early on a Sunday.
And the race goes on... digitally
The Monaco Virtual GP is the sixth round of the “We Race On” project launched by Formula 1 around two months ago, to run The FDA (Ferrari Driver Academy) Hublot E-sports races on the dates when the original Grand Prix should have taken place. Charles Leclerc has taken part in four of these games and has always finished on the podium. He actually won in Vietnam and China and was third in the Dutch race and then second in the last round at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit. His brother Arthur has only taken part in the Vietnam event, finishing fourth, but he has shone in the virtual FIA Formula 2 series, winning two races in Bahrain.
This Sunday 24 May at 7 pm CET, the Pro Exhibition Race will feature F1 drivers and celebrities battling it out over 39 laps. The simulator cars have identical set-up and performance and a limit to how much damage the cars can sustain.
The #VirtualGP event can be seen on Formula 1 YouTube, Facebook and Twitch channels, as well as Ferrari and FDAFans Facebook pages.
A new teammate for Charles Leclerc
Since joining Scuderia Ferrari, Leclerc has been teammates with F1 champion, Sebastien Vettel, who joined Ferrari in 2015. The 2019 season proved very difficult for Vettel, including many self-inflicted crashes. In mid-May, the announcement was made that Vettel will leave Ferrari at the end of the 2020 season.
In a statement, Vettel said: "There's no longer a common desire to stay together." But he also said: "My immediate goal is to finish my long stint with Ferrari, in the hope of sharing some more beautiful moments together, to add to all those we have enjoyed so far."
After the announcement, Leclerc posted his gratitude to his first teammate on his Instagram page:
It's been a huge honour for me to be your teammate. We've had some tense moments in the tracks. Some very good ones and some that didn't end as we both wanted, but there was always respect... I've never learned so much as I did with you as my teammate. Thank you for everything, Seb.
Carlos Sainz, the young Spanish driver for McClaren will reportedly take Vettel's place in 2021.