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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Daniel Moxon

Monaco Grand Prix diary: F1's unanimous verdict and success at Neymar's expense

So, as expected, the majority of the on-track excitement this weekend came during qualifying.

The rain caused a bit of chaos mid-way through the Monaco Grand Prix, which led to a few spins and 'whoops' moments. That chaotic 10 or 15 minutes created plenty of jeopardy and excitement and cost a few people some points but, once everyone was on the right tyres, normal service seemed to have resumed.

And that's okay. We know this Monaco track makes overtaking very difficult and, for now, we have to accept that. Having spoken to drivers, former racers and team bosses, the feeling is unanimous that changes to the track need to be considered – but that axing the annual visit to the principality is not an option.

This place always embraces the Formula 1 weekend and it was no different this year. The stands were crammed and the hills and buildings all around the track were lined with scores of people looking to catch a glimpse of the racing.

Seated in the grandstand on the straight between the second swimming pool chicane and La Rascasse, I had a great view of the cars as they slowed down for that final complex of corners. I could also see everything going on in the first five or six garages along the pit lane which, of course, is where this race – even more so than others – can be won or lost.

Having snatched pole from Fernando Alonso with a monster sector three in his final lap of qualifying, Max Verstappen never looked likely to be beaten. He started well enough to keep the lead into the first corner and never really looked back from there. The rain could have changed things but his tyre switch was completed comfortably enough.

The Monaco locals love this event (Daniel Moxon/Daily Mirror)

Alonso has earned a ton of praise from everyone for what he is achieving at his age and was a huge hit with those in the stands after finishing second – his best result yet of the season. And Esteban Ocon was a popular third-place finisher – no doubt there were plenty of French fans in attendance.

It wasn't long before the street party atmosphere was in full swing after the race with the rain stopped and the skies clearing. Good luck to anyone who tried to find somewhere that loud dance music wasn't playing. The Sunday racing may not always be a spectacle to behold, but everything else about the Monaco race weekend really is.

For me, it was topped off by a PokerStars event close to the track. It was a fun evening made all the more memorable by a few hands played with special guest Neymar, an ambassador for the brand. That ended with a handshake from the Paris Saint-Germain star after I beat his pair of kings with two pair eights and nines.

Considering I'm very much a novice at the game, I'll happily admit there was a lot of luck involved.

It's been a real privilege to experience an F1 race from a completely different perspective this weekend, particularly this event. I've already talked about the often unexciting racing in Monaco but this event is about so much more than that. It won't appeal to those who are just interested in the motorsport aspect, of course, and they have every right to want a better on-track product.

Neymar a few minutes before being beaten by me in a poker game – hence why he's still smiling (Daniel Moxon/Daily Mirror)

But the whole trip has felt like one big party from start to finish. Monaco is assisted by its own geography in that regard – the mountains cutting the principality off from the rest of the world behind it act almost as a curtain which, once peeked behind, reveal a place unlike any other on earth.

I feel privileged to have been able to experience it free of my usual responsibilities on a race weekend. Thanks to my Mirror Sport colleagues for helping in that regard this weekend. In a couple of days' time, I'll be back in my usual routine with coverage of the Spanish Grand Prix.

And I'm going to love doing that too.

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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