VideosFor the first time in the history of Formula 1, a Dutchman leads the world championship. Max Verstappen won the Monaco Grand Prix, and with rival Lewis Hamilton only in seventh place, the difference in the title fight is now four points in favor of Verstappen. Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris completed the podium in a race drawn before the start.
By Rik Spekenbrink
For the rest of his life, Max Verstappen can say that he has already won the illustrious Monaco Grand Prix. He joined a fine series of drivers on the list of honors in the principality on Sunday afternoon. And he did it the way he likes it most: convincing, unthreatened, boring.
“It was a fabulous race, Max,” his engineer told Verstappen. “It was your afternoon, you won the Monaco Grand Prix,” added team manager Christian Horner. “I’m very happy,” said Verstappen after a historic day.
He had in fact already started 40 minutes before the start of the Monaco Grand Prix. Charles Leclerc, the man in pole position, noticed while driving on the grid that his gearbox was not in order. He sent his Ferrari to the garage, where the message quickly arrived that he would not be able to make it to the grid in time and Max Verstappen thus received a virtual pole position as a gift. And soon after, it got worse for the Monegask: there was a line in its run. Waving the fans, Leclerc crossed the pit lane with emotion. His big dream of one day winning his home race fell apart. A Ferrari ketser, who just confirmed Saturday night’s report on Sunday morning that no serious damage had been discovered on Leclerc’s car. He hit the guardrail at the end of qualifying. A possible gearbox change would cost him a penalty of five grid places, but the Italian team did not deem it necessary.
See Verstappen’s finish here
Verstappen therefore started from “pole position” from the second starting box. Valtteri Bottas was a little better when the lights went out, but Verstappen steered his car firmly to the right and left no space for Finn. He was leading the race, there was no change of position behind him, Lewis Hamilton finished sixth.
Watch the replay of the start
And then the race took place as it so often happens in the principality. A procession, a parade, a procession, all the known characterizations are repeated. Since it is not really possible to follow too closely the predecessor, there is hardly any action on the track.
So we had to wait for an incident or pit stops. And in this case, these two went together. Things have gone completely wrong at Valtteri Bottas. The right front tire did not come off no matter what the mechanics did, the lug nut was stuck. This meant the end of the story for the Mercedes driver after a minute and a half of hard work. It wasn’t the first time something went wrong with the team during pit stops.
Discover the spectacular Valtteri Bottas pit stop
In the meantime, captain Hamilton was also angry, his “undercut” on Pierre Gasly failed, the Frenchman remained in front of him after also this new rubber. In fact, Hamilton also lost a place to Sebastian Vettel and Sergio Perez, who stayed longer and saw that choice pay off.
Red Bull Racing did everything very well in Monaco. Verstappen was practically at the top of the world championship, Pérez was fourth, Hamilton only seventh. Mercedes would also lose the lead in the constructors’ championship.
For the Limburger, it was all about the finish. Stay whole, make no mistake about it, because no matter how comfortable it is, on the narrow track, a moment of reduced concentration can change everything.
But that did not happen to Verstappen. For the first time in his career, he is performing on stage in his hometown. And so he hit back hard at Hamilton. After four thrilling races in 2021, there appears to have been a first draw at the world championship, with the Briton winning three times. But in Monaco, Mercedes lost the cleverly built lead in a matter of days.
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