Max Verstappen (Red Bull) crossed the line first in the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix while Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) never even made it to the starting line. Here are the highs and lows from the fifth race of the season.
Starting off in pole position after Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) withdraw from the race, the Dutchman held onto his lead lap after lap. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) was sure to put the pressure on, but Leclerc succeeded in holding him off. A resident of the Principality, Max Verstappen secured his first ever win in Monaco, claiming his second victory of the season and taking back his spot at the top of the leaderboard. A dream of a weekend on the Rock, one his fans will remember for years to come, as they watched on from Monaco’s terraces and yachts docked in Port Hercules.
After the qualifying session was cut short due to his teammate Charles Leclerc crashing out, the Spaniard left the track rather frustrated. However, such an unfortunate outcome swung in his favour, as Carlos Sainz executed a perfect race. Bumped up from fourth on the grid, he set off from third place following the Monegasque driver’s withdrawal from the course. As Valterri Bottas (Mercedes) suffered the same fate, Carlos Sainz made the most of the opportunity and raced into second place, taking his very first podium win with Scuderia Ferrari.
Voted Driver of the Day after finishing in fifth place, Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) enjoyed a very promising weekend in the Principality. After taking first place here in 2011 with Red Bull and again in 2017 with Ferrari, the German’s experience showed this weekend as he finished in the top 5, having started the race in eighth position. After a tough start to the season, earning no points during the first four Grand Prix races, Vettel finally got back on track in the Principality. Will the rest of the season be just as successful?
It was a terrible weekend for Mercedes. Starting in second place on the grid, ready and raring to chase down Max Verstappen (Red Bull), Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) was forced to withdraw quite early on in the race after a problem changing his tyres during a pit stop. The Fin was not the only one to suffer a terrible blow, as Lewis Hamilton failed to overtake Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri) and had to settle for seventh place. However, the Brit slightly made up for it by earning the fastest lap of the course, but that was not enough to stop Max Verstappen stealing back the top spot on the leaderboad, pushing the seven time world champion down to second place.
Whilst his teammate Lando Norris (McLaren) put in a stellar performance throughout the entire weekend, Daniel Ricciardo had a difficult time of it in the Principality. Although crowned champion here in 2018, he was not so successful this year. Beginning in twelfth place, he was unable to make any sort of advance, finishing exactly where he started, getting lapped by Norris along the way. After adding up the points, the gap between him and his teammate continues to widen (24 points to 56). Starting with Bakou (Azerbaijan) in two weeks’ time, has the former Renault driver got what it takes to close the gap?
A couple of showers throughout the day kept the drivers on their toes, but on the whole conditions remained dry. A thrilling battle was highly anticipated between Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and Max Verstappen (Red Bull), but after the Monegasque had to drop out, the crowds were deprived of the chase. As the day progressed, very little drama unfolded with only a few drivers overtaking, but even when they did, it was only after a pitstop or a blue flag: a signal that a slower car is about to be lapped. The 78th edition of the Monaco Grand Prix is not one for the history books, but after two years with no action and crowds finally allowed back into the stands, there is still a lot worth celebrating!