Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has taken his second victory of the year after imposing himself at the Monaco GP this weekend. Behind the Dutchman, and new leader of the standings, came the Ferrari, of Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard has claimed his first podium with the Italian team ahead of his friend from McLaren Lando Norris.
Norris, who has recently renewed his contract with the British team, has become one of the stars of the season, even more so now that he has risen to third in the standings. Checo Pérez also gave an outstanding performance on board his RB16B, climbing to fourth place from his starting eighth.
Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes, on the other hand, had an unusually disastrous day. The Briton won only seventh place plus an extra point for the fastest lap while losing the lead of the standings to the tenacious Dutchman.
The champion from Stevenage now has 101 points against the 105 of Verstappen’s. To add insult to injury, Valtteri Bottas had to retire following a problem at his pit stop.
Charles Leclerc also had an unfortunate weekend. After taking pole and crashing on Saturday, he was unable to take part in the race. His SF21 finally gave up on the way back to the grid. The Monegasque’s curse at his home-race, unable to complete any of his three appearances, seems to continue.
Max keeps the leading position
Verstappen, who started first after the “withdrawal” of Leclerc, was able to defended his lead at the start of the race. It is worth noting, however, that Max started from the actual second place on the grid, while the gap belonging to the Monegasque driver was left empty.
Behind the Dutchman, both Bottas and Sainz also kept hung on to their places. All in all, it was an incident-free and clean start with Hamilton in a desperate seventh place and unable to climb any position. A few laps into the race, and the Dutchman had accrued a one-second advantage over Bottas’s Mercedes.
Pit-stop time: Drama at Mercedes
Thirty laps into the Monaco GP and Hamilton became the first contestant to go to the pits. A lap later (31) the other W12 followed suit. Unexpectedly, the engineers were unable to remove the right front wheel of Bottas’ car. It was goodbye for the Finn’s victory race.
On the following tour (32) Vettel made his move to boxes in a clever manoeuvre to protect himself from Hamilton. One lap after that, Sainz also made a smooth swap of his soft compounds for hard ones.
The still leader of the Monaco GP, Max Verstappen, made his pit-stop on lap 34 and only one lap later did so his teammate Pérez. Sensational strategy from Red Bull to inflict a classic overcut on Hamilton.
Witnessing the unfolding of events that had relegated him once again to seventh place behind both Pérez and Vettel (and Pierre Gasly), the Englishman had a furious rant over the team radio.
Things quiet down
After all of the excitement, the race quieted down again. Verstappen commanded the race unrivalled, preceding Sainz by almost three seconds. Twelve seconds behind was Norris in third. Thanks to his masterful move, Checo was running comfortably in fourth.
Meanwhile, 17 seconds away, an inspired Vettel closed the top 5. Two positions down, an angry Hamilton had already realised that he was well on course to lose the leadership of the standings.
Things remained unchanged until the end with Verstappen claiming his first victory in Monaco, where he had never set foot on the podium before, and positioning himself as the new leader of the standings.
Sainz crossed the finish line nine seconds later. A day to remember for the Spaniard who has taken his first podium with Ferrari and third of his Formula One career. Completing the podium was Norris (McLaren).
Images of Monaco GP: F1.COM