Formula One doesn’t ‘have the balls’ to remove Monaco from race calendar

Former Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has declared that nobody has 'the balls' to remove Monaco from the race calendar despite speculation Monte Carlo's position is under threat.

The race in the French principality has long been considered to be the crown jewel for F1 but the rise in modern street circuits like those in Jeddah, Miami and Las Vegas has threatened to shake up the schedule.

F1 owners Liberty Media are keen to grow the motorsport in the US, banking on the success of Netflix's Drive To Survive series, while they're also keen for more exciting race action – which is limited in Monaco due to there being few overtaking zones and just one DRS zone.

That has seen Monaco join the likes of Barcelona, the Paul Ricard, Spa and Monza as the circuits at risk of losing their slot on the F1 calendar which, per the latest Concorde Agreement, is set at a maximum of 24 races per season.

With Miami's introduction set to be followed by Qatar's permanent slot and Las Vegas' night race in 2023, the maximum tally is yet to be hit and, amid continued talk of a return to South Africa, sacrifices may be required in order to bring F1 to new audiences.

However, Ecclestone believes that nobody 'has the balls' to remove the illustrious Monaco from it's position as it's favoured by the drivers and the teams, as well as being a staple on the calendar since the first Formula One season was held in 1950.

"I don't think anyone's got the balls to take that race away from Monaco," he told Reuters, adding that he spoke to Automobile Club de Monaco president Michel Boeri on Thursday ahead of this weekend's Grand Prix.

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"They are still super, super happy and confident with everything without any drama. So I don't see any problems there at all. Whether it's the worst race or the best race or whatever, it's the crown jewels.

"Look at Miami. That wasn't a Formula One race. It could have been a local club race, couldn't it. They had those boats in the car park, trying to make it look like Monaco."

Red Bull's Max Verstappen heads into this weekend's Grand Prix with a narrow six-point lead over Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who is seeking a victory racing around the streets where he grew up.

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