This weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix offers the ultimate canvas for F1 photographers – so long as they can find somewhere in the dense jungle of Monte Carlo to take their shot
Through the lens of a photographer, some F1 tracks are inescapably ugly. Silverstone, for instance, is an old RAF airfield that’s flat and featureless like a grey desert, broken up by patches of grass as if someone once tried to spruce it up a bit. Others are irresistibly beautiful, like Austria’s Red Bull Ring, a track swaddled by forest, with sweeping bends which seem to rise into the Alps behind them.
Singapore twinkles, Texas shouts, Baku seems to time-travel from one corner to the next. But nothing is quite like Monte Carlo and its unique street circuit, which carries itself with a certain regality, the grand palace of Formula One. It is a venue that knows full well it is special: the race itself can be dull but that is part of its arrogance, like an artist who deliberately ignored the brief. Oh, you’ve come for the racing, to see one car overtake another, that sort of thing? Well you’ve misunderstood the purpose of this place entirely.
Each part of the circuit forms its own little world. The Opera House which sits at the top of the hill ushers cars down to the famous Casino Square hairpin. The tunnel cloaks the race in darkness before emerging into the marina, which glistens in the sunshine. For photographers hustling in the heat amid a jungle of buildings, the challenge in Monaco is not so much identifying an eye-catching shot as finding a place to take it.