There were some absolutely huge upsets at the Grand Prix over the weekend. From Leclerc’s inability to start the race to Bottas’ unlucky pit stop. Monaco might not have brought exciting overtakes but it did bring exciting moments nonetheless.
Charles Leclerc. Oh, Charles Leclerc. My heart weeps for him. After a brilliant qualifying that saw him starting on pole position, it was sadly, not meant to be. A fateful crash from Leclerc at the end of qualifying saw the Monegasque having gearbox troubles that might hamper his race. Instead, a drive shaft issue on the left rear of the car meant that Leclerc didn’t even get to start the race, giving Leclerc yet another DNF, or should I say DNS, at Monaco. Leclerc has never finished a race in Monaco. A truly devasting start to the race for any Ferrari fan.
For Ferrari, all their hopes rested on Carlos Sainz who also had a great qualifying, starting from P4. The Ferrari’s didn’t lack any pace in Monaco and Sainz managed a P2 after some brilliant driving that kept both Sergio Perez and Lando Norris at bay. This was Sainz’s first podium with Ferrari, and Ferrari’s first podium of 2021. A weekend of dizzying highs and astonishing lows, means Ferrari may have mixed feelings about Monaco. Hopefully, the team learn from their experience in Monaco and continue to achieve podiums, who knows, maybe even a win?
Red Bull were perhaps the most consistent in Monaco. Max Verstappen, having obtained P1 from Leclerc, never gave it up and dominated the entire race. Valtteri Bottas into turn one almost had the Dutchman, but Verstappen pulled some amazing driving and wedged Bottas in between himself and Sainz, protecting his lead. For the first time since 2018, Red Bull have taken the lead in the World Championship from Mercedes. I guess what I wrote about Lewis Hamilton putting the Louis Vuitton trophy case in his apartment has aged like milk now, but I for one am glad that I was wrong. Verstappen’s teammate, Perez, improved his performance and managed a P4. He put constant pressure on Norris but just couldn’t get past the McLaren.
Monaco is a track that relies on your competitor’s mistakes more than most tracks. One fateful mistake from your competitor could lead to a crash that will ensure a gain in position on a track where overtaking is rarely an option. Red Bull once again have been given victory thanks to Mercedes’ mistakes.
Mercedes had a shocking weekend in Monaco. Hamilton struggled with the car and couldn’t manage better than P7 in qualifying and never moved up a position the entire race. Hamilton just couldn’t get past Pierre Gasly and the frustration and anger were evident in Hamilton’s voice over the radio. But none could be more upset than Valtteri Bottas who managed to start from P3 in qualifying and showed a promising performance early in the race. But a pit stop that went completely wrong out and end to his hopes of a podium. The pit crew couldn’t get the nut off the front-right tyre and had damaged the nut so much in the process that it wouldn’t come off at all, effectively ending Bottas’ race.
While it shouldn’t be celebrated, it is somewhat interesting to see Mercedes underperform in order to see what a race might look like without their constant domination.
McLaren, much like Ferrari, had a simultaneously great and terrible race. While not on the same level of terrible as Leclerc, Daniel Ricciardo, just couldn’t perform and couldn’t get past P12. Despite Monaco being one of the Australian’s favourite tracks, he just wasn’t coming to terms with the car during qualifying. And in this race, where qualifying might be the most important part of the weekend, meant that Ricciardo would stay out of the points the entire race. Norris, however, fared much better. While he couldn’t close the gap between himself and Sainz, he did manage to hold off the onslaught from a much more confident Perez, maintaining P3 and taking home another podium for McLaren.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for every team. Aston Martin finally got the chance to perform producing their highest result this year with Sebastian Vettel finishing in P5. These are the first points Vettel had earned this year and it is fantastic to see the former World Champion back in the points after a very disappointing start to the 2021 season. Vettel was awarded a well-earned Driver of the Day. Lance Stroll performed well too, keeping his consistent position around P8. Here’s hoping the Aston Martin’s can keep this up for the rest of the year.
Other notable mentions should be given to Antonio Giovinazzi, who managed to earn his first point this year, finishing at P10. A great race for Giovinazzi and an often-overlooked driver. Hopefully, his performance this year only improves and Gio finally gets some recognition. His teammate, Kimi Räikkönen, finished just behind his teammate in P11. It seems the Ferrari power unit was greatly beneficial to Alfa Romeo in Monaco.
Unfortunately, apart from all that I have mentioned, the race was fairly stagnant and uneventful. Mind you, the events that did occur were monumental but apart from that, the race was fairly standard. Everyone retained their positions, there were few overtakes, and no crashes. The return to Monaco was a mixed bag but I do believe that this is what makes the race interesting and unique. There’s something to talk about here. Are the cars too big for Monaco? Is the track simply out of date? Should it be left on the schedule purely because of its historical importance? I don’t know but these are the kinds of questions fans have begun asking.