x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Monte Carlo is a 'perfect' home away from home for drivers

Formula One drivers love life in the heart of Monaco.

McLaren-Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton speaks to the media in Monaco.
McLaren-Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton speaks to the media in Monaco.

MONTE CARLO //A luxurious tax-free haven soaked in sunshine and boasting shimmering aqua waters and a cosmopolitan population. Sound familiar? Forget Abu Dhabi or Dubai, the city in question is Monte Carlo: home to a quarter of Formula One's 24-driver field.

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes' English driver, recently moved to the principality from his base in Switzerland. His teammate - and compatriot - Jenson Button recently returned to Monte Carlo after a spell living in Guernsey. Scotsman Paul di Resta lives here, Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado lives here, Brazilian Bruno Senna lives here. Nico Rosberg, born in Germany, attended a school directly above the F1 paddock.

"I love it here," said Hamilton, who relocated during the winter break. "To be able to wake up in your own bed and drive just down the road and be at work is a fantastic feeling. Today is the first experience of that, but I'm sure it will make quite a big difference.

"I loved where I lived before, but this is a different place and I seem to be enjoying it a little bit more."

Button moved back to Monaco in a bid to escape the inclement conditions he had faced in Guernsey last year. The island suffered its worst year of weather in 22 years and Button, now tanned and healthy looking, is revelling in his new surroundings.

"Last week, I was out on the bike five times in seven days; that for me is perfect," he said. "[In Guernsey] I couldn't see where I was going because of the clouds. I'm a great outdoorsy person, so I struggled with that a little bit."

Michael Schumacher lived in Monte Carlo for an extended period earlier in his career and, having won the Monaco Grand Prix five times, explained some of the benefits of living in so close to the circuit.

"Basically, not only do you feel at home, but [you] see the build-up of the track," he said. "When you live here, you go through the roads and you see it building up, the whole story builds up in your own head and when it finally comes to the excitement to run it, then it's obviously even more special."

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

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