Max Verstappen overturns F1 title race with Monaco GP victory
- For the first time since 2018, Mercedes is not at the top of the F1 driver and constructor championship standings.
- Max Verstappen’s 12th career F1 victory and his first in Monaco have given him a four point advantage over Hamilton in the Drivers ‘Championship, and Mercedes is one point behind Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship.
- Verstappen led the flag in Monaco on Sunday.
You have to go back to the 2018 British Grand Prix to find the last race where the Mercedes team and a Mercedes driver did not lead the Formula 1 World Championship, such has been the domination of the team in recent seasons.
At the time, it was Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari who were the main rivals of the Brackley-based team.
Today, Red Bull and Max Verstappen are leading the way. And while Verstappen’s dominating Monaco victory may not have been the most exciting event, it does mean there is a real battle for the World Championship this year.
Verstappen led the flag in Monaco on Sunday, with teammate Sergio Perez securing three-quarters of a lap as the race leader after Verstappen opposed, although this did not show up in the lap charts as Perez s’ is stopped one lap after Verstappen.
The big story of the day was Mercedes’ failure to take on a serious challenge. World champion Lewis Hamilton was never a contender and lost ground in the race with a strategy call that cost him two places, while Valtteri Bottas finished second at the start, never looking for a threat before pulling out with a lug nut failure when stopping at the pit.
The Ferrari challenge evaporated before it even started as poleman Charles Leclerc was unable to start after discovering he had a driveshaft problem as the teams prepared to surrender on the grid. This let Verstappen take the lead at the start and he led a clear race. It was Verstappen’s first victory in Monaco, and he finished ahead of Carlos Sainz of Ferrari and Lando Norris of McLaren.
The final margin of victory was a comfortable 8.9 seconds. Only seven cars finished in the lead lap.
It was anything but a good race for the fans.
“You still want to win this Grand Prix,” Verstappen said. “I remember when I was very little you always wanted to win this one. I’m very proud, but I also think about the future, it’s a very long season. His 12th career victory gave him a four-point advantage over Hamilton in the drivers ‘championship, and Mercedes are one point behind Red Bull in the constructors’ category after a fourth-place finish from Sergio Perez.
“With Lewis, we just didn’t have the pace in the car. It’s that simple, ”said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff. “The clearance seemed to be the only possible way to clear (Pierre) Gasly, and there was no mistake, the exit lap was good, the pitstop was okay, but it just wasn’t not enough.
Hamilton was philosophical about defeat.
“It’s through our losses and our mistakes that we always get stronger,” said Hamilton. “This weekend has certainly been poor in terms of performance, but this team has shown time and time again how we come back to fighting. There is no finger pointing, we win and we lose together. We have 18 races left and there is a long way to go in this fight.
Monaco 2021 will not go down in history as great entertainment. Every once in a while you get a Formula 1 race that is impossible to get excited about. Trying to make it exciting just misrepresents those who make a fuss. Former Monaco Grand Prix winners Mark Webber and David Coulthard worked together on UK Channel 4, and even struggled to find things to talk about.
“Thank goodness there were three of us in the comments box,” said Webber. “If you called this race your own, you would split your wrists!”
While the race was undoubtedly exciting for the drivers, it was a complete failure when it came to excitement for the spectators, unless following the leader was your idea of the fun.
It was a race about the position of the track and often faster cars were stuck behind slower cars but there was no way to pass.
We can only speculate on what could have happened if Leclerc had started the race. His rivals would have been everywhere. But could they have passed? The cars are so close these days that it’s almost impossible to pass on a track without any space to ride a challenge.
Monaco is the casino, super yachts, princesses, money and fast cars. Grand Prix cars. Every year it transforms from a sleepy tax haven into a vague approximation of a Formula 1 racing circuit.
A vague approximation? Well, in all fairness, the track really isn’t the most sensible place to race a car race. But that doesn’t mean Monaco isn’t exciting. For a first-time viewer, it’s astonishing. Something to see and admire; something to annoy the people at home.
It’s really amazing to see F1 cars being used as pinball machines, jumping from bump to bump, glancing over barriers, bumping into each other and roaring to stay on the track. Monaco is a place for the brave and committed and the skills are amazing.
There have been some great races in Monaco over the years, but sometimes the cars mean the race becomes a motorcade. Can something be done to improve this 92 year old place? F1 Motorsport General Manager Ross Brawn says he doesn’t think different tires or strategies would have made a big difference.
“We have new cars next year and it will be interesting to see what comes out of it,” he said. Autoweek. “Monaco is a brilliant event, but we all know the limits of the track. Monaco is Monaco and it’s fantastic. We’ll take a look at it, but it won’t be the first time people have done it and they haven’t figured out a solution yet. We now have tools. We have built a simulation tool and an overrun tool and we will definitely have our people take a look at it to see if there is anything, but it is quite difficult.
Brawn doesn’t think it’s bad for Formula 1.
“It shows how you can build a huge spectacle around a race. It’s a big event with a massive story, a massive atmosphere. It’s a race that every driver wants to win. It’s just a different kind of race and I don’t think this strain is a problem.
In two weeks, F1 will be on another street track, in the Azerbaijani capital Baku. It’s wide and fast and so far has produced some great races. The design of the track makes this possible.
Monaco did something that was very good for F1. He turned the world championship race upside down.
“Any world championship that comes and goes between riders and pilots is good,” says Brawn. “I think we’re having a fantastic year.”
Monaco F1 Grand Prix results
- Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 78 laps
- Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari, +8.968 seconds
- Lando Norris, McLaren, +19.427
- Sergio Perez, Red Bull, +20.490
- Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, +52,591
- Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, +53896
- Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, +1: 08.231
- Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, +1 lap
- Esteban Ocon, Alpine, + 1 lap
- Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo, +1 lap
- Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, +1 lap
- Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, +1 lap
- Fernando Alonso, Alpine, +1 lap
- George Russell, Williams, +1 round
- Nicholas Latifi, Williams, +1 round
- Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, +1 turn
- Nikita Mazepin, Haas, +3 laps
- Mick Schumacher, Haas, +3 laps
- Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, +46 laps
- Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, DNS
- Max Verstappen, 105 years old
- Lewis Hamilton, 101
- Lando Norris, 56 years old
- Valtteri Bottas, 47 years old
- Sergio Perez, 44
- Charles Leclerc, 40 years old
- Carlos Sainz Jr., 38
- Daniel Ricciardo, 24 years old
- Pierre Gasly, 16 years old
- Esteban Ocon, 12 years old
- Sebastian Vettel, 10 years old
- Lance Walk, 9
- Fernando Alonso, 5 years old
- Yuki Tsunoda, 2 years old
- Antonio Giovinazzi, 1
- Kimi Raikkonen, 0
- George Russell, 0
- Nicolas Latifi, 0
- Mick Schumacher, 0
- Nikita Mazepin, 0
Constructors’ championship ranking
- Red Bull, 149
- Mercedes, 148
- McLaren, 80
- Ferrari, 78 years old
- Aston Martn, 19
- AlphaTauri, 18 years old
- Alpine, 17 years old
- Alfa Romeo, 1
- Williams, 0
- Haas, 0
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