Red was the color of last weekend at Monaco. We saw a lot of red caps during the weekend as a tribute to the late Austrian driver Niki Lauda who passed away at the beginning of last week. A vast majority of teams paid tribute to him on their liveries, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton had a special helmet for the occasion. There was also a minute’s silence before the race where the drivers where in circle in front of Lauda’s legendary helmet, a moment that was really emotional. This sad new couldn’t go out of our minds but Formula 1 recovered doing honor to the Austrian Lauda with a beautiful race weekend.
This Grand Prix is always particular. First of all, it’s a street circuit which is legendary and the scenery is outstanding with its sea, harbour and promontories. It’s also a race full of glamour, celebrities and big yachts which are part of the landscape. You either love it or hate, it’s an absolute unique setting not to be found anywhere else through the season.
On a motorsport point-of-view, this race was really impressive. Seeing these modern-day F1 cars going at crazy speeds on this tight track is quite something ! With a top speed of nearly 300 km/h at the exit of the tunnel, the drivers push their cars to the limit on the Monaco Circuit, millimetres away from the barriers. It’s even more crazy now that the cars are a lot wider than before, which is not necessarily good for overtaking, testing hard on the judgement of drivers.
The weekend didn’t start particularly well for Ferrari on Thursday, we quickly saw that Mercedes was definitely ahead. After a few kisses to the barriers, Vettel even crashed in Practice 3 on Saturday but Leclerc gave hope to the Scuderia getting the fastest lap in this last session before qualifying. And qualifying arrived…
Due to a wrong strategy from Ferrari, Leclerc did qualify 16th for his home race because of overconfidence from his team which made him fall in the standings as other drivers were improving their lap times. Vettel qualified 4th. Without any surprise, the two Mercedes drivers locked out the front row, Lewis Hamilton getting the pole. Verstappen did a really qualifying lap, taking the third place on the grid.
Things didn’t get any better for Leclerc during the race. Succeeding in two great overtakes at La Rascasse, trying to go up in the classification, a third attempt on Hülkenberg made his right rear tire touch the wall and he got a puncture. Having to do a full lap to go in the pits, the tire was totally destroyed by that time and caused a lot of damages to his car, the race will end prematurely for him. For the most part of the race, Vettel was behind Verstappen and couldn’t do anything more than watching the intense battle between Hamilton and the Dutchman, he will finish second. Hamilton managed to keep Verstappen behind him with tires degraded, an impressive drive which did take him to the win. During the race, Verstappen got a 5-second penalty for unsafe release in the pits as Bottas was going out and they made contact, he will cross the line in second position but end up being 4th in the classification. Valtteri Bottas, just behind Vettel finished third.
Pierre Gasly finished the race in 5th position, his best result since he joined Red Bull. The Frenchman also got the fastest lap of the race which gave him an extra point. In Monaco, the “best of the rest” was McLaren with a great performance from Carlos Sainz finishing 6th, his teammate Norris will finish near the points. The two Toro Rosso drivers got the top 10 with the 7th and 8th place for Kvyat and Albon respectively. This weekend was a disappointment for Renault as Ricciardo only finished 9th, Hülkenberg 13th. Haas also managed to put one of their car in the top 10 with Romain Grosjean, he is the last driver to get a point. Disappointment too on Alfa Romeo Racing’s side with Kimi Raïkkönen finishing 17th and Giovinazzi being last. Neither Racing Point nor Williams finished in the top 10, but we saw a great performance from George Russell and Robert Kubica, the British driver finished 15th and the Polish driver finished in 18th position.
With this race, Hamilton extends his lead in the championship with 137 points in front of Bottas who now has 120 points. Vettel completes the top three with 82 points, not far is Verstappen with 78 points. On the constructor’s side, Mercedes is by far ahead of Ferrari with 257 points against 139 points for the Scuderia. Also, Red Bull is only 29 points behind the Italian manufacturer.
Next Grand Prix is Canada, will Ferrari take its first win of the season ? Answer on June 9th !