May 23, 2013, 12:00 PM EDT
What comes to mind first when you think of the Monaco Grand Prix?
Money, perhaps? You can’t really blamed for that thought. Formula One’s stature as a billion-dollar enterprise enables it to fit in perfectly with the sophisticated surroundings of Monte Carlo. Or maybe it’s the massive amount of star power that comes in for this event every year — supermodels, movie stars, rock stars and other manner of celebrity. Then there’s the track itself, an unforgiving street circuit that may be Formula One’s slowest track but is also perhaps its most difficult. In this day and age, it’s strikingly out of place when placed against the more modern facilities that play host to the World Championship.
Finally, there’s risk. Monaco is an inherently risky place when you think about it. The city’s legendary casino, which the Circuit de Monaco passes by, makes you wonder just how many people have gone for broke inside its grand halls over the years (safe to assume, it’s probably a lot). And on the Circuit de Monaco, you have to do the same, really. Every lap around Monte Carlo is run on a knife’s edge, right up to those forbidding guardrails, inches from disaster.
Altogether, the race is unlike anything else in Formula One and the world. Unmatched for its atmosphere and its difficulty, it is the one the drivers want more than any other and the one that makes them earn their paychecks more than any other. When you watch this race (Sunday, 7:30 a.m. ET, NBC or live online via Live Extra), you know you’re seeing world-class racers at their very best.
And isn’t that what we all want to see?