Verstappen wins at Monaco and becomes new championship leader

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen drove a brilliant race to take victory at the Monaco Grand Prix and becomes the new Formula 1 championship leader.

Verstappen dominated from the front and finished ahead of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, after polesitter Charles Leclerc could not start and Valtteri Bottas was forced to retired.

Following his late Q3 crash, Leclerc reported a problem with his gearbox on his only pre-race lap to the grid – although Ferrari later announced a damaged driveshaft meant he could not take the start.

Lewis Hamilton could only finish in seventh, frustrated with Mercedes strategy call after he lost two positions during the single pitstop phase.

When the five red lights went out, Verstappen immediately moved to block Bottas’s run to the inside line for Ste Devote from his P2 grid spot, cutting off the Mercedes, which had made a slightly better launch off the line from third.

Verstappen’s aggressive defence easily kept him in the lead, with Bottas briefly locking his left-front as the pack steamed into the first corner.

The two leaders quickly surged clear of Sainz’s third place, the Ferrari initially unable to match their pace.

The opening stage of the 78-lap race featured the leading drivers managing their pace as they worked to create a pitstop gap to the runners using the medium and hard tyres in the pack behind.

Verstappen controlled the pace up front – his laps gradually getting quicker – with Bottas running just out of DRS range in second, as Sainz closed again on the two leaders until his gap to Bottas almost reached the two-second mark, where it remained.

The leader’s advantage extended to nearly three seconds by the one-quarter-distance mark, after Mercedes had asked Bottas to show his best pace, as the Finn in fact fell further back towards Sainz.

Bottas could not match Verstappen’s pace in the low one minute, 16 seconds at this stage and the gap between them grew to nearly five-seconds once 25 laps had been completed.

After Hamilton had kicked off the pitstops by stopping for hards at the end of lap 29, in a doomed attempt to undercut Pierre Gasly’s fifth place, Bottas came in the next time around.

But a disastrous pitstop where the right-front soft remained stuck on Bottas’s W12 because the wheel nut machined onto the axle and could not be removed, which meant the Finn’s race was ended.

Sainz came in two laps later, now comfortably in second, while Red Bull waited until lap 34 to bring in Verstappen, who emerged with a 6.5 seconds lead over the Ferrari once all the stops had shaken out.

In the immediate phase after the stops, Sainz managed to cut Verstappen’s lead in half as he lapped in the low 1m15s, before the Red Bull upped its pace and the gap between the pair stabilised.

They regularly ran in the mid-1m14s during the middle phase of the race, exchanging quicker times over several tours, but the difference between them remained steady.

Heading into the final 15 laps, Verstappen was able to pull away slightly as he asserted control over the gap to second once again, eventually coming home with a winning margin of 8.9s as Sainz faded as the completed laps built up.

The result gives Verstappen the lead of the drivers’ standings for the first time in his career.

Bottas’s retirement meant Lando Norris moved up to third as McLaren negotiated the pitstop phase smoothly, with the Briton having something of a lonely race for the majority of the event to take the final spot on the podium behind the dominant leaders.

Norris did struggle for tyre life in the closing stages, with Sergio Perez closing in rapidly in the second Red Bull but he was unable to find a way by ahead of the finish.

Perez, who had started a net eighth with Leclerc’s absence, was the big winner during the pitstops, where Hamilton ended up immensely frustrated at Mercedes’ strategy.

Being the first driver to stop did not pay off for the world champion, as Gasly was able to stay ahead when he came in one lap after Hamilton, who then lost a place to Sebastian Vettel as well when the Aston Martin driver jumped up two spots by staying out longer and overcutting the AlphaTauri and the Mercedes.

But Red Bull left Perez out in clear air even longer, the Mexican eventually coming in one lap 35 having lapped in the mid 1m14s bracket as he enjoyed strong pace in clear air.

Perez actually cycled through to temporarily lead just before he stopped and handed his teammate back the P1 stop Verstappen would not lose again, as Perez rejoined well clear of the Vettel-Gasly-Hamilton train.

After initially failing to make much in-road on Norris’s advantage in third, he rapidly cut the gap approaching the final 15 laps, but his chase ended up stalling with the gap to Norris just over a second, with the margin at the finish exactly 1.0 seconds.

Vettel came home solidly in fifth, with Hamilton trailing Gasly by 14.3 seconds at the flag after stopping to move back to softs late on to chase the fastest lap point.

He successfully managed that quest, setting a new track record of one minute, 12.909 seconds.

Lance Stroll gained from his net P12 starting spot by running the hard tyre from the start and then staying out until lap 58, where he maintained the eighth place he had risen too after switching to the softs.

Stroll was investigated for potentially crossing the pit exit line as he rejoined after his stop, but the stewards took no action and he came home untroubled in eighth.

Esteban Ocon defied late pressure from Antonio Giovinazzi, as the Alpine and Alfa Romeo drivers rounded out the top ten – the former struggling for tyre life after being given mediums at his stop compared to the hards on his rival’s machine.

Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo were not far behind at the finish – the latter ending up a lap down on his McLaren teammate – with Fernando Alonso 13th a chunk further back.

With Bottas the only retirement and Leclerc not starting, the rest of the finishers were Williams pair George Russell and Nicholas Latifi, Yuki Tsunoda – who stopped last of all on lap 65 and ended up with the second fastest race lap, 1.128 seconds slower than Hamilton’s effort – and the Haas duo Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher.

So congratulations to Max Verstappen with this Monaco Grand Prix victory. He becomes the new Formula 1 championship leader. What a drive in the Red Bull-Honda.

Monaco Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:38:56.820
2 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 8.968
3 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 19.427
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 20.490
5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 52.591
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 53.896
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:08.231
8 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes +1 lap
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault +1 lap
10 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
11 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
12 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
13 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault +1 lap
14 George Russell Williams-Mercedes +1 lap
15 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes +1 lap
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda +1 lap
17 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari +3 laps
18 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari +3 laps
– Valtteri Bottas Mercedes DNF
– Charles Leclerc Ferrari DNS

5 thoughts to “Verstappen wins at Monaco and becomes new championship leader”

  1. Monaco Grand Prix race review as reported by

    Red Bull’s Max Verstappen breezed to his maiden Monaco Grand Prix win over the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz and McLaren’s Lando Norris, with Ferrari polesitter and home hero Charles Leclerc failing to take the start after suffering a pre-race driveshaft issue – Verstappen also claiming the lead of the drivers’ championship for the first time in his career after Lewis Hamilton finished a disappointed P7.

    Starting effectively from pole after Leclerc’s cruel side-lining, Verstappen out-muscled Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas off the line to take a lead that he would only briefly relinquish in the pit stops, Verstappen claiming his second win of the season, and his first ever podium in Monaco.

    In an off-day for world champions Mercedes, a disgruntled Hamilton could do no better than seventh (the same position he started) to lose his lead of the championship to Verstappen – who now heads Hamilton 105 points to 101 – while Bottas had even worse luck, after a stuck right-front tyre in his pit stop forced him into retirement.

    That left former McLaren team mates Sainz and Norris P2 and P3, Sainz now at Ferrari salvaging the day for the Scuderia to take his first podium in red, while some brilliant strategy from Red Bull allowed Sergio Perez to overcut his way from P8 to P4 in the pit stops.

    Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel did similar to take P5, for by far his and his team’s best finish of the year – Vettel maintaining his record of never being classified lower than P5 in a race he’s finished in Monaco – while AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was able to hold off Hamilton’s Mercedes to claim P6, Hamilton salvaging a bonus point for fastest lap after a late second stop.

    Starting on hard tyres from P13 paid dividends for Lance Stroll, who made a 58-lap stint work to claim P8 and add to Aston Martin’s joy in Monte Carlo. He finished ahead of the Alpine of Esteban Ocon, while Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi took Alfa Romeo’s first point of the season after claiming 10th.

    For Verstappen, though, Leclerc’s DNS in Monaco provided him with a golden opportunity – and the Dutchman didn’t falter, defiantly hitting back in the title fight against Hamilton, and adding a Monaco Grand Prix win to his CV for good measure.

    The drama in Monaco began even before the race start as polesitter Charles Leclerc – given a clean bill of gearbox health by Ferrari on Sunday morning after his crash in Q3 yesterday – suffered an issue with his left-hand driveshaft on his laps to the grid. Ferrari’s Sporting Director Laurent Mekies duly radioed to FIA Race Director Michael Masi half an hour before the Grand Prix was due to get under way to say that Leclerc would not be starting the race – Leclerc’s hometown curse appearing to strike again.

    That meant Max Verstappen lined up at the head of the field in front of a broken-hearted partisan crowd, with Valtteri Bottas bumped up to P2, while Ferrari’s sole hopes of a result rested on Carlos Sainz, now in third.

    As the lights went out, Verstappen’s rear wheels slewed off the line as he unleashed his Honda power unit’s torque – but the Dutchman got going enough to move aggressively over on Bottas, using the threat of Armco to arrest the Finn’s progress and maintain his advantage, the order staying the same as Bottas led Sainz, McLaren’s Lando Norris, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton through Sainte Devote.

    Behind, it was one of the more polite Monaco starts in recent memory, the best action on Lap 1 being an adventurous dive by Mick Schumacher on his Haas team mate Nikita Mazepin at the hairpin to move up to P18 – Schumacher seeking to make up for missing Saturday’s qualifying, while Mazepin was fair in the fight. George Russell, meanwhile, got squeezed into Sainte Devote and was forced to dive across the run-off, costing him a position to Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, who jumped from a net 16th to 14th.

    Ricciardo, meanwhile, was passed by Lance Stroll and Kimi Raikkonen, falling to 13th as the Australian’s tricky weekend continued.

    With the field lapping in formation in the early part of the race, Verstappen was able to set the pace, and by Lap 25 of 78 had built up a cushion of over four seconds over Bottas – who was starting to complain that it felt like he was driving in the wet on his worn softs. That was preventing him from shaking off the Ferrari of Sainz, who’d pulled his own five-second gap over former McLaren team mate Norris – although Norris may have been slowed by a threatening black and white flag, shown for two transgressions at the chicane…

    Now all eyes were trained on the pit crews, and which of the frontrunners would roll the dice on strategy. Despite attesting that his tyres were still up to scratch, Hamilton was the first driver to pit on Lap 29 for hards.

    Norris, Gasly and Bottas were the next in a lap later – but there was disaster for Bottas, as his right-front refused to come off the car, to the extent that Mercedes had no choice but to retire him from his net P2, confirming later that the wheel gun had machined the nut onto the car’s axle, in a cruel turn for the Finn.

    Mercedes’ chagrin was then completed by Hamilton being overcut by Gasly, Vettel and Sergio Perez in the stops – the wily Vettel jumping two places in front of both Gasly and Hamilton, while Perez did even better, moving up from eighth to fourth in a brilliant piece of strategy from Red Bull. “How did this happen?” Hamilton berated Mercedes on the team radio – and you could understand his pain.

    Verstappen and Sainz, meanwhile, enjoyed problem-free stops to retain their net lead and P2 respectively, with Bottas now out of the picture.

    That meant that by Lap 40 of 78, it was Verstappen from Sainz, Norris, Perez, Vettel, Gasly and Hamilton, with Lance Stroll and Kimi Raikkonen P8 and P9 but yet to stop.

    Ten laps to go and with leader Verstappen managing the gap to Sainz, the action was focused on the charging Perez, who had his eyes on the Norris’ P3, Norris telling his McLaren team that his MCL35M felt undriveable on his hard tyres – although not so undriveable that he couldn’t lap team mate and 2018 Monaco winner Daniel Ricciardo on Lap 52, in a moment of pathos for the Australian.

    Perez tried, bringing the gap down to just 1.5s as Norris ordered radio silence. Ultimately, though, Norris’ pace settled down enough to allow him to rebuild the gap and hold off the Mexican. Sainz, meanwhile, had been encouraged by his Ferrari team on Lap 55 to get after Verstappen, Sainz acquiescing with a slightly unconvinced “who knows?”

    Verstappen, though, wouldn’t be headed, stretching the gap over Sainz to 9s by the time he swished over the line at the end of Lap 78 to claim his first ever Monaco win – make that first ever Monaco podium – and swing the momentum in the title fight decisively back in his favour.

    That was because Hamilton could only take seventh – stopping on Lap 67 to take on used softs and claim the fastest lap bonus point, a small consolation ahead of what will doubtless be a big debrief at Mercedes after a nightmarish day in the Principality.

    Behind, Sainz did the job he had to for Ferrari, claiming his first podium since the 2020 Italian Grand Prix, and his first ever in red – Sainz sportingly congratulated in parc ferme by team mate Leclerc – as he was joined on the podium by his emotional former McLaren team mate Norris, who moved back up to P3 in the drivers’ standings thanks to his second podium of the year coupled to Bottas’ misfortunes.

    Starting ninth had been sub-optimal for Perez, but his efforts to overcut the pack gifted him fourth, while Sebastian Vettel flashed the old magic to take fifth thanks to that Aston Martin strategy, ahead of Gasly and Hamilton. Stroll’s 58-lap run on hards at the start of the race was good enough to lift him to eighth at the flag ahead of Esteban Ocon, with Giovinazzi converting Alfa Romeos’ first Q3 of the year on Saturday into their first point of the year on Sunday.

    Outside the top 10 came a trio of former Monaco winners, Kimi Raikkonen 11th, ahead of Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso, with the two Williams of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi 14th and 15th on the team’s 750th Grand Prix.

    Yuki Tsunoda, on his first ever visit to Monaco in any category, took P16 – narrowly avoiding smashing into Latifi at Rascasse at the tail-end of the race after outbraking himself – while Mazepin was able to make it back past Schumacher to claim P17, his joint-best finish of the year.

    So, an unusual podium in Monaco, with Mercedes notable by their absence. Spare a thought for Leclerc, who was so unfortunately robbed of a chance to take a memorable home win. But take nothing away from Max Verstappen, who did everything asked of him to claim his 12th career victory, and wrestle the lead of the championship away from Hamilton.

  2. Charles Leclerc says failing to start Sunday’s Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix from pole was “difficult” to take after a driveshaft issue emerged on his Ferrari shortly before the grid.

    Leclerc had been due to start his home race from pole after topping qualifying for Ferrari on Saturday, but was concerned after the session about the condition of his gearbox following a crash at the end of Q3.

    Despite Ferrari conducting checks that showed “no serious damage” to the gearbox, the team found a driveshaft issue when firing up Leclerc’s car before going to the grid.

    It meant Leclerc was unable to make the start of the race, denying him a chance to fight for his first victory since the 2019 Italian Grand Prix.

    “In the garage, it was very, very difficult to feel OK,” Leclerc said in the TV pen during the race.

    “But yeah, I guess now I’m getting used to this feeling here [in Monaco], unfortunately. I’ve never finished a race here. This year I don’t start it, starting from pole.

    “It’s a difficult one to take. But I also feel for the team to be honest, the mechanics have done such a hard job yesterday to try and check everything.

    “The mechanics were finally a bit happy this morning to see that everything seems fine, and all of the parts were fine. And then this happened. It’s a shame for everyone.”

    Leclerc has never reached the chequered flag in Monaco, having retired twice in Formula 2 and in his two previous F1 starts.

    The failure to start came less than 24 hours after team boss Mattia Binotto said Ferrari “will not gamble” on Leclerc’s gearbox, saying the team would take a grid penalty if deemed necessary.

    But Leclerc said that analysis was ongoing to understand what the exact issue was that caused the driveshaft problem and how it related to the Q3 crash.

    “I wouldn’t speak too much, because for now I am not aware of everything,” Leclerc said.

    “But what I know is apparently it’s not coming from the gearbox, and it’s more coming from the rear left of the car. Whether it’s correlated with the crash or not, this we’ll have to see with the investigations after the race.

    “But it’s still early days to speak, I guess.”


  3. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz has admitted that this Monaco Formula 1 podium “doesn’t taste as good as it should” despite taking second. has the full story.

    Carlos Sainz has admitted that his first Ferrari podium does not taste as good as it should, after Formula 1 teammate Charles Leclerc failed to start the Monaco Grand Prix.

    The Spaniard delivered a controlled performance around the streets of Monte Carlo to come home in a strong second place behind race winner Max Verstappen.

    But he had been left as Ferrari’s only race starter after Leclerc was forced out of the race when the team discovered a driveshaft problem before the car had made it to the grid.

    Leclerc had crashed in qualifying on Saturday, but the team had given the all clear for him to keep the same gearbox rather than change it and incur a grid penalty.

    With Leclerc out before the start, Sainz said he felt added burden, and that the weekend could have gone even better for him and his teammate.

    “It is a good result,” said Sainz after the race. “If you would have told me before coming to Monaco that I would finish second, I would have definitely taken it.

    “But it is just the whole circumstances of the weekend: having Charles on pole, me missing out in quali yesterday, on a good lap, that it just maybe doesn’t taste as good as it should.

    “But I’m sure that when I reflect back on the weekend, I will be very happy and proud of the weekend. I think Ferrari, as a team, they need to be proud about the car, and the step they have done this year.”

    Sainz had run third in the early stages behind Valtteri Bottas, but moved up a place when his Mercedes rival was forced out thanks to a problem with his right front wheel in the pitstop.

    Asked if his mindset in the race was different because of what happened to Leclerc, Sainz said: “It is. I mean, when you see the other car, not starting from pole, all of a sudden the responsibility obviously relies on you trying to salvage the weekend.

    “One car is out starting from pole and you want to give the team at least a podium. It was all about getting the start right then, and around the pitstops there was a lot of traffic and we were lapping the cars very quickly.

    “Obviously, Valtteri had the pit stop but even without that I was feeling really good with the car today. I felt like the team at least deserved a podium this weekend.”

  4. Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas rues ‘big mistake’ at pitstop after Monaco Formula 1 retirement. has the details.

    Valtteri Bottas was left ruing a “big mistake” by his Mercedes Formula 1 team after being forced to retire from Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix while running second.

    Bottas had hoped to take the fight to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in Monaco after seeing polesitter Charles Leclerc fail to start, promoting the Mercedes driver to second for lights out.

    Bottas maintained the position after Verstappen defended well at Turn 1, opening up a five-second gap over the Finn through the opening stint.

    But when Mercedes brought Bottas into the pits at the end of lap 30 to fit the hard compound tyre, an issue meant the team was unable to get the front-right tyre off his car.

    Despite numerous attempts by the Mercedes pit crew, the problem ultimately forced to team to tell Bottas to switch his car off and retire from the race.

    Mercedes confirmed that “the wheel nut machined onto the axle and couldn’t be removed” at the pit stop.

    “I don’t know what happened in the pitstop to be honest, I don’t know yet if it was human error or a technical issue,” Bottas said in the TV pen following his retirement.

    “But in any case, we need to learn from it. It’s a big mistake by us and it should not happen.”

    Bottas felt he was in the position to be able to fight Verstappen for the race victory, only for the retirement to cost Mercedes the lead of the constructors’ championship.

    “I think otherwise we could have fought for the win,” Bottas said.

    “Red Bull and Max, they were really quick, so it would have been difficult, but at least we could have gotten a second place today with good points but we lost them.

    “Max was quick and I think they managed to get the soft tyre to last a bit longer in the first stint. and once you get onto the hard tyre there’s not much happening.

    “I don’t know. We’ll never know if we could have challenged or not.”

    It marked Bottas’ second retirement in the opening five races of the season, and saw him slip to fourth in the drivers’ championship behind McLaren’s Lando Norris.

  5. Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto believes the driveshaft issue that ruled Charles Leclerc out of Sunday’s Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix could be “completely unrelated” to his crash at the end of qualifying.

    Leclerc took a shock pole position for Ferrari on Saturday in unusual circumstances after crashing at the end of Q3, bringing the session to an early end.

    The heavy crash at the exit of Swimming Pool left Leclerc and Ferrari concerned about damage sustained to his gearbox, only for checks to show that “no serious damage” had been sustained.

    Ferrari announced on Sunday morning that it would not be changing Leclerc’s gearbox, keeping him on pole, but when it fired up the car ahead of the race, an issue quickly emerged.

    The team revealed a problem with the left driveshaft had been found on Leclerc’s car, meaning he was unable to start the race at all.

    Ferrari F1 chief Binotto said after the race that the team was still working to fully understand the issue, and that it could be totally unrelated to Leclerc’s Q3 crash.

    “We need to fully understand what happened,” Binotto said on Sky Sports F1.

    “The failure is on the driveshaft into the hub on the left-hand side. So it’s not a gearbox problem we had. The gearbox had been inspected yesterday evening, it has been reviewed, and I think the gearbox was OK for the race.

    “What happened is on the opposite side compared to the accident. So it may be completely unrelated to the accident.

    “But something which we need to carefully understand and analyse, and we have no answer right now.”

    Asked if the issue had emerged for Ferrari before, Binotto replied: “No. Let’s wait and see. I think we can only analyse the pieces carefully on the data, try to have a clear explanation.”

    Leclerc said after failing to make the start that it was “difficult to take”, having sensed an opportunity to score his first victory since the 2019 Italian Grand Prix.

    Binotto was adamant on Saturday that Ferrari would not take a risk with the gearbox on Leclerc’s car, fearing a retirement, but made clear that the driveshaft issue was unrelated.

    “As I said, it has not been a gearbox failure,” Binotto said.

    “There was no gamble on the gearbox. We are confident the gearbox would have been OK for the race.

    “But again, what happened needs an explanation, that we do not have right now. As I said, we will need to analyse.”


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