WHEN THE dust settled over the street tracks of the Monaco GP, Red Bull's Max Verstappen emerged the winner. A usually reliable Lewis Hamilton, however, was nowhere to be found on the podium, stuck in his qualifying position of seventh.
"How am I still behind? Come on!" the defending champion was heard saying over team radio, clearly frustrated.
It was a day of shakeups in what could be called the most interesting Monaco Grand Prix in years. Here's a look back at the eventful race weekend as we parse out five reasons why.
Home bet Leclerc out, even before race begins
Heartbreak came upon thousands of Tifosi before the race began as it was announced that the pole-sitter and hometown hero, Charles Leclerc, would be sitting out of the Monaco GP.
Problems for the Monegasque within the principality have been common since his stint in F2, with Leclerc never once finishing here. Things seemed to be turning around for him at the start of the weekend with Ferrari displaying good pace and quality performance all throughout.
However, his bad luck came trailing back when he crashed towards the end of his final qualifying lap. This meant that the session had to be aborted and he was lucky enough to keep his provisional pole.
As everyone anxiously awaited the verdict on Leclerc’s race status, Ferrari confirmed that they would not be making any changes to the gearbox since the situation did not call for it. Sadly, this backfired on them as Leclerc experienced problems with his left driveshaft after the warmup laps and it was something that the team could not fix on time.
With Leclerc out of the race, his position on the grid was left empty and this could have been an advantage for Valtteri Bottas who had clear air in front of him. Unfortunately for the Finn, Max Verstappen was able to cover the lead and he took command of the race in its entirety.
Mercedes magic goes poof
The strategy magic that Mercedes showed in the Spanish GP was nowhere to be found as the reigning champion, Lewis Hamilton, ground his gears at seventh behind Sergio Perez, Sebastian Vettel, and Pierre Gasly, who all had a great run. His teammate, Bottas, saw his podium dreams shattered after a botched pitstop forced him into a retirement at the end of lap 30.
The opposite could be said for Aston Martin, as their strategy has effectively placed both of their drivers in the top 10, with Vettel finishing in 5th (and winning Driver of the Day), and Lance Stroll clinching the 8th spot.
Rounding up the top 10 was Alpine’s Esteban Ocon in 9th, and Antonio Giovinazzi who scored Alfa Romeo’s first official points this season.
Sainz gets his first Ferrari podium
It was pretty much a stagnant race from then on, but Vettel and Gasly did have some wheel to wheel action in the 32nd lap with which Vettel emerged victorious. Perez and McLaren’s Lando Norris also had a tight battle of their own with 20 laps to go as the young Brit expressed difficulty with the car when using the hard tires. Perez was able to go as near as less than a second but Norris was able to successfully go ahead to finish 3rd behind his former teammate, Carlos Sainz ⏤ who scored his first podium for Ferrari.
Previous Monaco winners were a no show
Experience in the tricky street track seemingly didn't count for much in this year's edition. Outside of the top 10, previous Monaco winners Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen, and Fernando Alonso all struggled to get into the points and were eventually lapped by the podium finishers.
This weekend also marked the continuation of Ricciardo’s tricky start at McLaren, with hopes that he adapts to the car soon to secure the team’s place in the constructor standings.
In their 750th race, Williams was unable to score a point as drivers George Russell and Nicholas Latifi finished in 14th and 15th place respectively. They are followed by AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, who had a couple of fastest laps, and was succeeded by fellow rookies, Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher, who finished in 17th and 18th for Haas.
Red Bull leads for the first time in eight years
It was overall a clean race, and honestly more thrilling compared to previous Monaco Grands Prix, largely because of the drama that ensued before the lights went on. This race also marked a shift in the driver and constructor standings as Max Verstappen’s win gave Red Bull a slight edge over rivals Hamilton and his Mercedes team. Since Brazil 2013, this is the first time that they are leading the championship.
With 6 rounds down and 17 more to go, the championship battle’s getting more and more exciting, and we can’t wait to see what Baku’s street circuit has in store for when we go back this coming June 4-6!
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