Wow! It’s Monaco! Woohooh! The glitz! The glamour! The shiny opulence of it all!

Rubbish – most people’s experience of the Monaco Grand Prix isn’t glamourous at all: it’s just sitting in front of a telly, shouting at interminable adverts and hurling abuse at James Allen.

Monaco always has some kind of Get Out of Jail Free card, and never gets a rough ride from the authorities despite the fact that it is the very opposite of everything they demand from every other event.

It’s a narrow, unforgiving circuit that would be struck off the calendar in a flash for safety reasons if it were based anywhere other than the diamond encrusted cliffsides of Monte Carlo. And before I get taken for some raving communist let me just say I honestly don’t mind that: I just think there are far better venues that get treated abysmally (Silverstone or Spa for instance) and I don’t like double-standards.

That rant out of the way, Monaco has certainly staged some memorable races in both the past (1982’s surrealist comedy where pretty much everyone took it in turns to lead the race in the final couple of laps, stopping after 100 yards each) and the present (Raikkonen creaming the field in 2005 – and one of the most quietly classy passing moves of the season by Nick Heidfeld).

There’s also the hilarious one-upmanship of the teams and their daft publicity stunts: the Red Bull ‘Star Wars’ pit crew last season who got so much extra coverage from the cameras that it was even more embarrassing than it need have been when both their cars dropped out. Or the Jaguars in 2004 with fabulous diamonds in their nosecones to promote ‘Ocean’s Twelve’ – until Klien put his Jag into a barrier and the diamond was never seen again. Somewhere there’s probably still a Marketing executive being punched in the windpipe every hour for thinking that one up….

And yet it’s hard not to want to make an exception for Monaco – it DOES look very cool, it can thrown up spectacular moves and crunches as the grid powers into St Devote, the cars sound massive as they tear through the tunnel and out into the harbour…

Okay, I admit it. It IS glamourous. But only in a ludicrous way. Monaco is great because it typifies and magnifies the excesses of the Formula One world. If ever you wanted to distil the essence of F1 – money, egos, marketing and spectacle – you couldn’t find a finer or more potent mix than Monaco.

As a race, it’s pretty good (but I defy anyone to disagree that there’s far better on the calendar – or NOT on the calendar in the case of Spa…) but as F1 it’s brilliant.