Motorsports-Vegas EXCLUSIVE puts Monaco’s future in focus, says Brown

Formula One F1 – Russian Grand Prix – Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia – September 28, 2019 McLaren Chief Executive Officer Zak Brown REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

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LONDON, April 1 (Reuters) – Las Vegas will be an impressive addition to the Formula One calendar next year, but will also put the future of the Monaco Grand Prix into focus, according to McLaren boss Zak Brown.

It’s long been taken for granted that the sport needs the heritage and glamor of the Mediterranean principality, with its casino and superyachts, but this week’s announcement from Las Vegas brings the glitz to a whole new level.

In what is already a competitive market, relatively new illuminated races in Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia are also attracting billionaires and business leaders and Miami is joining the show this year.

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Brown told Reuters that Las Vegas was a perfect fit for Formula One and that three races in the United States was the right number.

Asked about Monaco’s future in a packed calendar, the American said the principality faces increasing business pressures in a changing world.

“Monaco has always represented the most glamorous part of Formula One. I think Miami, Singapore and Las Vegas are starting to add some pretty glamorous markets,” he said.

“I think Monaco needs to come to the same commercial terms as other grands prix and also maybe they need to work on ways that they can adapt their track because as our cars have gotten bigger, the racing has gotten more difficult.

Monaco, whose race on the street circuit is often a near-impossible procession to overtake, has paid much less than others in accommodation fees, but the contract is due for renewal.

“You have to take into account the story, but then I think you have to take into account what the show is like,” Brown said.

“There is also an element, which should not drive our decisions but should be part of our decisions, what is the economic contribution to the sport.

“I would much rather have Monaco than not… but just like the sport is bigger than any driver or team, I think it’s bigger than any grand prix.”

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Brown said the long-awaited Las Vegas deal, with the race on Saturday instead of Sunday in another break with tradition, was the right one.

“It looks very appropriate and all the right people are behind it. I think it’s going to be impressive for Formula One,” he added.

He suggested that other races, such as Singapore, could also be held on a Saturday.

“We want to respect the history of the sport, but there are not many sports that have not changed in recent times to adapt to a changing world. I think a race on Saturday night in Las Vegas is the most obvious,” he said.

Las Vegas joins Miami and Austin as a trio of far-flung American races offering different experiences.

“I think these are three amazing markets,” Brown said. “I think it’s almost the perfect schedule from an American point of view.”

The calendar stands at a record 23 races this year, once Russia has been replaced.

The discussion has already focused on which races could be eliminated or alternated.

“If you could wave a magic wand, I’d like to see 21 or 22 races,” Brown said.

“Seventeen or 18 as permanent fixtures and seven or eight that rotate because I think in order to keep growing the sport, the more quality markets we can be in, the better. I would love to see us be in 30 markets, but compete in 21 or 22.” times a year.

“I think there are A markets and B markets that we run in. Maybe their B markets (should be) every other year.”

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Information from Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Fallon

Our standards: the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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