Verstappen grabs dominant Monaco Grand Prix victory

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Monaco, Monte Carlo Circuitmc

Max Verstappen won the Monaco Grand Prix of 2021, making most of the opportunity after the pole sitter and Bottas, his closest challenger, retired from the race. Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris completed a very young podium at the principality.

Big news came ahead of the start of the race with home driver Charles Leclerc unable to participate in the race. A driveshaft issue discovered only in the installation lap forced Ferrari to leave the car in the box for the rest of the afternoon. The issue raises questions about Ferrari's operations as the mechanics may all have been too focused on the gearbox and thereby forgot to check the rest of the car at a time when they'd still be able to fix things.

The issue added to a lengthy string of DNFs for Leclerc at Monaco where he has been particularly unlucky.

When the lights went out for the other 19 cars, Verstappen quickly closed the door on Bottas, forcing the latter to hold back after enjoying the better getaway off the line.

Behind them, there were very few position changes, and none in the top 10. Ricciardo lost two positions to Stroll and Raikkonen while Alonso gained two, passing Tsunoda and Russell at the start. Latifi also moved up a spot while Mick Schumacher nailed his team mate at the hairpin to leave Mazepin last.

What followed was a seemingly endless procession of cars, waiting for the first pitstop to mix things up. No really big gaps formed across the field, except between 8th and 9th position where Giovinazzi lost 9s to the Red Bull over the course of the first 20 laps. But apart from them the gaps among the top 10 drivers were all less than 4 seconds one car to another.

Edging closer to the stops, Verstappen managed to pull 5s clear of Bottas while Norris dropped more than 6s behind Norris. Hamilton recorded closed in on Gasly and was the first to pit on lap 29, changing to hards and rejoining the track in 8th, 15s down on Perez and a few seconds ahead of Giovinazzi.

Bottas, Norris and Gasly stopped the next lap, resulting in a complete disaster for the Mercedes driver. The mechanics were unable to get the front right tyre off the car, and the crew seemed to panic unit eventually Bottas's car was pulled in the garage to retire from the race.

Gasly returned to the track ahead of Hamilton, and one lap later saw Vettel emerge just ahead of him as well. To make things worse for Hamilton, Perez jumped the three of them when he returned from his pits 4 laps later, making it a terrible few laps for the Mercedes F1 Team.

Ahead of Perez, the top three were unchanged, with Verstappen leading over Sainz with a near-constant 3s advantage. Norris followed 10s further down, notably lapping his own team mate 20 laps from the end. Ricciardo was polite enough to make the lapping easy, but it must've been a hard one to swallow.

Two laps later, Stroll pitted to change to softs, having completed a long first stint on hard tyres. The Canadian rejoined in 8th without losing a position. He was later investigated for having a bit of wheel on the white line on the exit of the pitlane, but proved acceptable to avoid a penalty.

12 laps from the end, Perez was out to finally create some excitement by getting close to Lando Norris. On fresher tyres, the Red Bull driver had rapidly closed in on the McLaren, aiming to pounce for a podium finish.

Tsunoda was the last one to make his first stop on lap 66, setting faster lap two laps later. Hamilton clearly thought that was a good idea, so pitted right at that time without losing a position. As expected, Hamilton improved on Tsunoda's time by going round in 1:12.909.

Nothing much happened after that, leaving Verstappen to win a race without much competition. Carlons Sainz and Lando Norris completed the first non-Mercedes podium of the season. Hamilton's 7th place finish also meant that Verstappen takes over the championship lead from Lewis Hamilton.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarLapsTimePts
133Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda781:38:56.82025
255Carlos SainzFerrari78+8.968s18
34Lando NorrisMcLaren Mercedes78+19.427s15
411Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda78+20.490s12
55Sebastian VettelAston Martin Mercedes78+52.591s10
610Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri Honda78+53.896s8
744Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG78+68.231s7
818Lance StrollAston Martin Mercedes77+1 lap4
931Esteban OconAlpine Renault77+1 lap2
1099Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari77+1 lap1
117Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari77+1 lap0
123Daniel RicciardoMcLaren Mercedes77+1 lap0
1314Fernando AlonsoAlpine Renault77+1 lap0
1463George RussellWilliams Mercedes77+1 lap0
156Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes77+1 lap0
1622Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri Honda77+1 lap0
179Nikita MazepinHaas Ferrari75+3 laps0
1847Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari75+3 laps0
NC77Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG29DNF0
NC16Charles LeclercFerrari0DNS0