Heaven or hell? Monaco GP offers a vision of both

Fri May 22, 2015 7:21am EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

MONACO (Reuters) - The billionaires, supermodels and suntanned celebrities sipping cocktails in the Monaco sunshine might wonder what planet Jacques Villeneuve is on.

Ask the Canadian for an assessment of Formula One's showcase race, a grand prix synonymous with all that is most glamorous and glitzy about the world's fastest sport, and he wastes no time in replying.

"Monaco is Hell," says the 1997 world champion.

Villeneuve, who lives in Monaco but never won the most historic of street races although his late father Gilles did with Ferrari in 1981, clearly has a love-hate relationship with the place.

"The driving is amazing, it’s the weekend that’s a pain," says the driver, who won his title with Williams and retired from the sport in 2006 after a long and lucrative spell with uncompetitive BAR.

"You can’t sleep at night because there’s music everywhere until six in the morning," he told Reuters.

"It’s hell to work, so that’s the part that’s not likeable because it’s not the good old days where you went to a gala the night before and got drunk and raced anyway. So Monaco is hell. But the driving is so much fun. It’s so extreme, there’s no margin for error. It’s great.

"It’s not like all these modern tracks where you can see that it’s a piece of cardboard that’s been taken, put there and it’s got the perfect angle," he added.   Continued...

Driver Jacques Villeneuve during practice for the NAPA Auto Parts 200 Nationwide Series NASCAR race in Montreal, August 17, 2012. REUTERS/Olivier Jean