Apex documents the unprecedented combination of wealth and race heritage in Monaco and the motorsport event it has become synonymous with. It also observes how the country’s rugged geography and its small metropolis are physically affected during the weekend that the entire nation is taken over by the Grand Prix and its festivities.
The petite, infamous tax haven nestled on the Mediterranean coast has the highest ratio of millionaires per capita in the world with one resident worth at least thirty million dollars per 56 residents (mostly ultra-wealthy from other countries). Monaco is the only country that isn’t required a fee to host the Grand Prix and instead keeps all income made from the event.
The country itself only covers about 2 sq. miles but has steep changes in elevation displayed in rocky cliffs and hillsides. The sea level streets of Monaco become the course, and the pastel cityscape shapes every corner. When seen on a map, the 19 turns of the track seem to take up about a quarter of the country. Those 19 turns require approximately 3,666 gear changes over the course of 78 laps. They are also among the most dangerous in the sport, and are not required to meet the same specs as the rest of the GP courses. Yachts with helicopters and hot tubs swarm the bay, lining the track as if cars at a drive-in movie theater. Brief, boasting cries of exotic engines bounce off the cliff walls and echo throughout the city streets of Monte Carlo at all hours. Once the Formula One cars take the track, there is nowhere you can go in this country that the collective scream of those twenty engines can’t be heard.
Ticket prices for the main event are predictably exorbitant, but it seems as if everyone in the country finds a way to watch. Race day is rainy. Every street, building, window, and every balcony in Monte Carlo with even a slice of a view of the course is painted with spectators. Umbrellas texturize and color every road and sidewalk. Tourists fill the slick, muddy hillsides to the west of the course, some hanging onto trees to keep from slipping and falling onto the packed streets below. Any given audience member on the ground has an extremely limited view, a full corner or straightaway at most, thus large screens around every bend are vital to many in keeping up with the action.
The Monaco Grand Prix is truly one of a kind, and together with the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hour Le Mans creates the Triple Crown of Motorsport. Unlike the other Triple Crown events, this race is as much about prestige and wealth as it is sport.