Hamilton set for FIA showdown over jewellery: 2022 Monaco GP – what to watch for


Formula 1 heads to Monaco with a Hamilton-FIA row, intense title battle and questions about the race's future lingering in the air

Lewis Hamilton wearing 3 watches in Miami GP press conference

Hamilton could be at loggerheads with governing body once more

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

This weekend Formula 1 returns to one of its most famous theatres, the Monaco Grand Prix, with a title fight increasing in intensity with every race.

However, it’s matters away from the track which could dominate the headlines early on, with Lewis Hamilton set for Round 2 of his argument with the FIA over body piercings.

The row first reared its head in Miami and, as detailed below, the two-race exemption for Hamilton ends when F1 reaches the principality.

Regarding the racing action, it’s now three consecutive victories for Max Verstappen, with Red Bull taking the lead of both championships following the Spanish Grand Prix.

Barcelona was not the weekend Ferrari had hoped for after Charles Leclerc retired with an engine problem whilst leading the race, but the Monegasque was still left positive bearing in mind the pace his Ferrari had – he might just be ready to convert the updated F1-75’s speed into a home win.

“I feel better after this weekend than I felt after the last two weekends,” the Ferrari driver said.

Here is what to watch out for during the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix weekend.


Lewis Hamilton set for FIA showdown in Monaco

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 06: A detail shot of the jewellery of Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes in the Drivers Press Conference prior to practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at the Miami International Autodrome on May 06, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Hamilton could be at loggerheads with governing body once more

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton could be heading for another showdown with the FIA in Monaco, when his two-race exemption for wearing his nose-piercing ends.

The Mercedes driver was previously at loggerheads this year over other jewellery worn whilst racing – attending the Miami GP with three watches on amongst other accessories in protest – but relented aside from his nose piercing and another non-specified one, both of which would have to be surgically removed.

Hamilton said he was quite happy to sit out the race in Miami, before a resolution was reached.

“If they stop me then so be it,” he said. “We’ve got a spare driver all ready and prepped for the weekend. There’s lot to do in the city anyway, so I’ll be good either way.”

When Autosport asked if he was actually planning to remove his nose piercings in time for Monaco, Hamilton replied: “No. I got an exemption here, I’ll get an exemption the rest of the year – wedding rings are allowed.”

Expect this to be a story that rumbles on once F1 reaches the principality.


Will it rain in Monaco this weekend?


How could the rain affect things this weekend?

At the time of writing, there is an 80 per cent chance of rain for Sunday’s race.

The last time there was a wet race in the principality was 2016, which is famous for Red Bull’s pit-stop error that cost Daniel Ricciardo the victory. Other famous wet-weather races include Ayrton Senna’s breakout ’84 performance, Olivier Panis’s only win in ’96 and Lewis Hamilton’s ’08 victory in his first title year.

If rain does fall, then that should suit the likes of Verstappen, the Mercedes duo and Lando Norris, who tend to shine in dismal conditions

Driving in the wet around Monaco is one of the ultimate tests of any F1 driver, their talents stretched to the limit as they thread through the unforgiving barriers.

However, qualifying looks like it might be dry with a light chance of rain after the session has finished, reducing the chance of a jumbled grid.

Given the well-known difficulties of passing, even in the rain, a wet race isn’t guaranteed to produce drama.


All eyes on crucial Monaco GP qualifying


Ferrari took the risk to not replace Leclerc’s damaged gearbox to try and keep pole, but it backfired.

With the Monaco street circuit being one of the tightest on the F1 calendar, the qualifying laps are likely to be the most important of the weekend.

There was just one on-track pass in 2021, emphasising just how incredibly difficult it is to overtake in the principality.

Of the past 10 Monaco GPs, the race has been won from pole six times. On the other four occasions, the polesitter has only lost due to an error in the pits, or — in the case of Leclerc last year — a crash in qualifying that meant he could not start the following day.

Expect teams to prioritise one-lap pace to the detriment of their performance in the race, taking their lead from Daniel Ricciardo’s 2018 win from pole after driving most of the race with 25% less horsepower, but still managing to keep Sebastian Vettel right behind him.


How will Charles Leclerc fare with the pressure of his home crowd?

13éme Grand Prix Monaco historique -Parade Ferrari © ACM /Olivier Caenen

Leclerc added to that tally earlier this month by crashing Niki Lauda’s 1974 Ferrari at the Historic Monaco Grand Prix

For first time in his career Charles Leclerc heads into Monaco with a genuine title-challenging car.

The importance of qualifying should also play into his hands – the Ferrari driver has claimed pole in four of the six rounds this season.

On one lap he is the man to beat, but can he shake off the increasing sense that he’s cursed in front of his home crowd and finally have a clean Monaco weekend?

Since Leclerc’s F1 debut in 2018 he is yet to finish the Monaco Grand Prix. Two of those races have featured a Leclerc crash with his most recent in 2021 proving most costly – the Monégasque set the fastest time but then crashed on his next flying lap. The damage sustained meant that he couldn’t start the race.

His confidence won’t have been helped by a crash at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix earlier this month, when the brakes failed on a 1974 Ferrari he was driving, sending him into the wall.

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Should it rain, the Ferrari driver is usually solid in such conditions, his P4 in Turkey last year being a prime example.

However, Verstappen is known to be a specialist in the wet – how will Leclerc fare against the Dutchman if inclement weather closes in?


Is the Monaco GP part of F1’s future?

Monaco Harbour

Monaco is considered to be one of F1’s crown jewels, but some are now questioning why it deserves to be on the calendar.

The race is usually a procession and does not make direct financial sense: Monaco is understood to pay the least to host its race – $22 million, $7 million less than next highest-paying Paul Ricard in France.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown is one of the most high-profile voices questioning its value. “Monaco always stood for the most glamorous part of Formula 1,” he said. “I think Miami, Singapore, Las Vegas are starting to add some pretty glamorous markets.

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

These comments have been echoed by Christian Horner who believes Monaco is in danger of becoming dated and needless. “I think if Monaco was a new circuit and they said ‘You’re going to have the lowest fee of every single circuit and you’re going to go there and can’t overtake,’ it would never be accepted on the calendar,” Red Bull’s team principal said.

“We accommodate Monaco because of its heritage and because of its history – that’s it. I think that you’ve got to evolve.”

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However, his driver Max Verstappen thinks otherwise. “I don’t think you can replace Monaco,” said Verstappen in Miami. “Monaco has such a history. Of course it takes time to build that and also, I mean, [Miami] is completely different to Monaco.”

Monaco’s current deal expires this year but organisers say that they aren’t worried about losing its spot on the calendar amid contract talks. Michel Boeri, president of the Automobile Club de Monaco, said: “I can guarantee you that the grand prix will keep taking place beyond 2022. I don’t know if it will be a three or five-year contract, but that’s a detail.”

Nonetheless, expect the future of the event to be an ongoing topic throughout the weekend.

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