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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Daniel Moxon

Monaco Grand Prix diary: David Coulthard's poker face and Kasper Schmeichel's cycle hire

You don't really need to visit Monaco to know this, but it really is another world.

There was drizzle in the air when our flight landed at Nice at lunchtime on Thursday, fog covering the mountains at the other side of the city. But, as our transfer barrelled along the A8 towards the principality, the clouds dissipated and the sky brightened as if to show off Monaco in its full glory.

The driver had promised a sight to behold. But not after making sure I knew he was the world's biggest Riyad Mahrez fan. "If Mahrez left City for Liverpool tomorrow, I would support Liverpool", he declared. Judging by his apathy for Leicester's relegation turmoil, he meant it.

Football is certainly not the main event in Monaco this weekend, but was certainly a theme of that journey. The first glimpse of the principality from the mountain road was the Stade Louis-II while what is sure to be the first famous face of many was spotted right next to the car when stopped in traffic.

Now playing for nearby Nice, Premier League winner Kasper Schmeichel was straddling a bicycle while chatting with a woman. Seeing well-known stars being able go out and about like that without being mobbed is refreshing.

A sighting of former Leicester shot stopper Kasper Schmeichel was a surprise (Daniel Moxon/Daily Mirror)

You quickly adjust to the fact that every third car which passes you costs a six-figure sum. A fleet of modern supercars making their way around streets where traffic is directed by old-fashioned wardens with whistles makes for an interesting juxtaposition.

After settling into the hotel, it was onto the first event of the weekend. A poker tutorial was put on by professional player Arlie Shaban and we were joined for a few hands by David Coulthard – surprisingly a novice who picked it up quickly.

They like Charles Leclerc around these parts (Daniel Moxon/Daily Mirror)

It wasn't long before the former Formula 1 driver and Red Bull Racing ambassador had taken all our chips and wandered out of the room with a beaming smile on his face. Coulthard also stopped to answer a few interview questions – coming soon on the Mirror Sport website.

The evening provided a chance to do a little exploring, walking on the Monaco roads which make up part of the track but which had reopened to the public for the night. Of course, the traffic was mostly made up of Ferraris, Aston Martins and McLarens – so no change there.

The track open to public cars and the pedestrians prior to the weekend's action (Daniel Moxon/Daily Mirror)

Dinner at a rooftop bar provided views of the Mediterranean Sea on one side and the Loews hairpin on the other. Seeing road cars backed up in traffic on arguably F1's most famous corner was a sight to behold, but nothing compared to the sunset behind the hills separating this bizarre place from the rest of the world.

From now, though, the real action begins with F1 cars on track for the first time at this year's Grand Prix. While this event has its problems in the modern era of the sport, the buzz and festival atmosphere all around Monaco is evidence enough that it still has that pulling power.

PokerStars have just launched this year's Red Spade Pass – a money can't buy experience which will take you to Las Vegas this November. Head over to PokerStars to find out more.

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