It’s home to the most glamorous race in motor sports. It’s also home to top F1 drivers who would rather not pay hefty taxes in their native land
“W E’VE won Monaco, baby!” screamed a triumphant Jenson Button after taking the checkered flag at the 2009 Formula One Monaco Grand Prix.
The British driver could hardly be blamed for the outburst. Monaco—despite its reputation for producing not races but merely a procession of high-performance machinery—never fails to dish out ample servings of history, mayhem and glamour. This year’s GP, held two weekends ago, was no exception.
Nico Rosberg ruled from pole to finish in a crash-strewn, multiple-safety-car race to duplicate his father’s, Keke Rosberg, F1 win exactly three decades earlier, with the pair earning their place in the record books as being the only father-and-son Monaco GP winner. Monaco’s royalty was on the podium to greet the top three finishers (coming in after Rosberg were Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber). Hollywood has-beens like Michael Douglas and Cameron Diaz flew into the Mediterranean principality. American director Ron Howard, who filmed a biopic on the F1 rivalry of James Hunt and Niki Lauda, was also in town. Gorgeous women soaked in the sun and the bubbly by the side of the street circuit clad in their skimpy swimwear. The dock was bursting to full with party yachts. No doubt, Monaco is unlike no other in the F1 circuit.
Monaco is, of course, also home to many of the sport’s top drivers. And the reason for this—beyond the history or the gorgeous women in skimpy swimwear and the party yachts—is obvious; Monaco is a tax haven for the mega rich. Top F1 drivers, needless to say, are mega rich.
In the current F1 grid, half of the top 10 drivers leading the championship table hold home addresses in Monaco. Of the five, only Nico Rosberg (which carries a German passport and as such is representing Germany) was born there. And that’s because his father moved to the place when he was F1 world champion.
Brazilian Felipe Massa is now a resident, too, after relocating recently, as is Scotsman Paul di Resta. Button has been living in the Principality for quite some time now—or splitting his time between Monaco and England, at least—so his victory there has extra meaning for him.
Lewis Hamilton, who was born and raised in England, has the distinction of calling Monaco home right after moving from a country that’s equally known for its creative fiscal policies—Switzerland.
Speaking of which, three of the top 10 leading drivers live there; Vettel, who is German, Kimi Raikkonen of Finland, and Romain Grosjean of France. Spaniard Fernando Alonso used to live in Switzerland, too, but had decided to move back to Spain to be closer to his family (it was a move that reportedly cost him around $75 million). Among the 10, only the Aussie Webber chose England.
Actually, at least four other drivers on the current F1 grid—22, not counting the test or reserve drivers—live in England, which is where majority of the teams have headquarters. Germany, France and even Mexico are home to the rest.
But, depending whether fortunes (read: paychecks) fatten up, Monaco will always beckon.