Grand Prix Drivers Do Monaco

By: Roger Munns

Watch out in that passing lane; zipping along past you may be a Formula 1 driver on his way home!

The Grand Prix season over for this year, drivers have spread out to the four corners of the globe for some R & R. Home sweet home for many drivers is still Monaco. Different ports of call beckon others home.

Recently, British driver Lewis Hamilton announced his decision to move to Switzerland. What led to the decision? Some might surmise it's tax-related. Certainly, it's an attractive option for the wealthy. Although he has stated he's moving there to escape the extraordinary amount of public and media attention he receives in Britain, life in the fast lane needs slowing down sometimes.

Monaco remains the premiere spot to call home for the Grand Prix drivers of the F1 circuit. It contains the district of Monte Carlo with its famous casino, first-class hotels, and leisure facilities for the jet-set crowd. Is it any wonder that it's a favourite spot for these elite drivers? They can unwind from a gruelling season and still get up-to-speed when they choose; enjoying the exotic nightlife in this country.

Who lives in Monaco when they're not traipsing the world's finest F1 courses? Here's a who's who:

* British driver Jenson Button
* German driver Nico Rosberg
* Alex Wurz of Austria, who just recently announced his retirement
* David Coulthard of Britain
* Felipe Massa of Brazil
* Giancarlo Fisichella of Italy

Each May, Monaco hosts its own Grand Prix race. It's one of the most prestigious stops on the Grand Prix tour with a rich history behind it. The first race ran in 1929. The Monaco Grand Prix is one-third of the Triple Crown of Motorsport. The other two are the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 hours of Le Mans. All three display drivers at the top of their game on courses known to test the limits of endurance and technical driving skills.

As the Grand Prix circuit winds its way from continent to continent, it certainly speaks of Monaco's charm that many drivers end up there at season's end. This resort by-the-sea offers entertainment, tax breaks and respite from the F1 circuit.

What an F1 circuit it has been this year. It began in March of 2007 in Australia and ended in October in Brazil. The circuit passed through the Middle East, Europe, North America, Japan and China. Time spent in Monaco, after it's all said and done, seems like what the doctor ordered.

This small country, with just over 32,000 people, is the second smallest independent state after the Vatican. According to former F1 driver, Johnny Herbert of Britain, most Grand Prix drivers live in Fontvieille. This is prime real estate; a fabricated harbour built in the 1970's in Monaco. The country itself is roughly the size of New York City's Central Park.

Although the primary reason for the well-paid Grand Prix drivers to live here is taxes - the lack thereof- there has to be more to it than that. If it were just that, they'd all live in Switzerland or the Bahamas or offshore on a tugboat (albeit a very luxurious one).

You have to believe there's more to it than the monetary savings. You would think the racing history of this principality lures drivers in; Grand Prix drivers having racing oil in their blood. Sure, they also have a taste for the finer things in life which Monaco offers. Nevertheless, there's a history here. The greats of F1's of the past have left their stamp in Monaco.

The Circuit de Monaco holds onto the memories of greats like Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Jackie Stewart. These were stalwarts of the sport who won on the course multiple times. It also doesn't forget the likes of Niki Lauda, Jody Sheckter and all the others who have won here.

There's racing history tucked in this parcel of land between the Alps and the Mediterranean Sea. Grand Prix drivers know that and it's not hard to understand why so many of them are here.

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