They are two different worlds, almost opposites, yet what keeps Monaco and Indy together, walls and calendar aside, is the glory they give
Putting them on the calendar on the same day is a little motoring perversion. Monte Carlo and Indianapolis are two opposite worlds that come together on the last Sunday of May. They are two symbolic races that make history by themselves, they have become history in the stories of the championships to which they belong. Monaco started in 1929, Indy even earlier, in 1911. In the Principality there are no straights long enough to exceed 300 per hour and the qualifying record is just over 166 per hour, in Indianapolis Alex Palou took his Dallara Honda to pole at an average of 376.936 kilometers per hour (the official record is of 382.216 obtained by Luyendyk in 1996). Yet these two races so different, to such an extent that in Monaco you toast with the Italian bubbles of Ferrari Trento and in Indiana with milk, they have one point in common: if you get distracted for just one second you end up against a wall and in America you risk even hurt yourself. Walls and guardrails are the nightmares of those who race in Monaco and Indianapolis. Those around the 33.37 meters of the Monaco circuit are branded. Smell the perfume that comes out of the boutiques, more than that of petrol which today is less and less petrol. All around there is only luxury. That of designer shops, apartments, yachts anchored in the port to be seen rather than to be seen. Passion is relegated up there on the hill that leads to the Royal Palace. The place for real fans, without a pass for the VIP terraces for 10,000 euros a shot. Monaco is the most anachronistic resist in the world of Formula 1. So anachronistic, however, that it boasts a lot of imitations like the Puzzle Week. What are Singapore, Miami, Jeddah, Abu Dhabi if not imitations of Monaco? They certainly don't have the glamor of a track that winds between the Cafè de Paris and the Casino, skirting a port that is showing off the best of itself this week, they are a bad copy of a unique place that stands up to the ravages of time.
Winning the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indianapolis 500 and the Le Mans 24 gives the Triple Crown, a title more than a trophy, for a few. Indeed for only one, Graham Hill who won five editions of the Monaco Grand Prix (1963, 1964, 1965, 1968 and 1969), the Formula 1 World Championship in 1962 and 1968, the Indianapolis 500 in 1966 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1972. The only driver still active who could match him is Fernando Alonso who is missing the 500 miles. In 2017 he preferred not to race in Monaco to try it in Indianapolis with a shabby McLaren. It didn't end well, but at least it didn't hurt. Today he seems to have given up. "There is also a desire, but I think the commitment must be really high and 100 per cent, because there is also a danger factor - admitted Fernando the other day - when I stopped with the Formula 1 to dedicate myself to the 500 Miglia, I realized that small details can make a big difference, and maybe I'm not in step with the times or I'm not prepared like them, and I have to admit it. So, if I'm going to win the Indy 500, I need to make a few attempts, put my all into it, and run some ovals before that race. I don't know if when I stop with Formula 1 I will still want to."
They are two different worlds, almost opposites. In Monaco you have 19 corners, each one different from the other. Fill up on adrenaline from the start to the end of the lap, as Leclerc tells us that he was born in these parts, but he hasn't won there yet despite the two poles in the last two years. In Indy where the track is 4,023 meters long, there are only four corners and you must not think that they are all the same otherwise you would end up kissing a wall. You have to pay attention to the slipstreams, when the car in front sucks you in you risk finding yourself at 400 km/h in areas where you usually travel 30 km less.
They are two different worlds also from a piloting point of view. If Monaco is surrounded by glamor, the Indianapolis Speedway, which has a golf course inside, is a monument to speed in the middle of nowhere. An iconic place with its tower, its red brick wall that can now only be seen on the finish line. But all around you will find car factories, stables, shops that sell everything needed for racing. Boutique in their own way, all right, but without the history of a Vuitton or a Cartier.
What keeps Monaco and Indianapolis together, apart from walls and the calendar, is the glory they offer. Winning there can be enough to fill a racing life. It's something you can tell forever. There have been winners by chance, on both sides, men kissed by luck at the right time and place, but their name in the roll of honor is the same as that of the others. If you win at Indy or Monaco you become a legend. Because these slopes are legendary.