Formula 1

Assessing The Grid – 2021 Monaco Grand Prix

7 Mins read
Credit: Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images

Despite there being little action at this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, we still got treated to a new driver on the top of the Drivers’ Championship, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team were toppled off the top in the Constructors Championship and we had a brand-new pole-sitter for the year. Think what you may about the action we saw on track, but the spectacle at Monaco shifted the dynamic of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship.

TOP OF THE CLASS

Max Verstappen

Qualifying margin to team-mate: – 0:997s  | Race margin to team-mate: – 20.490s

Max Verstappen has now gone to the top of the Drivers’ Championship for the first time in his F1 career with his win in Monaco.

The driver was originally starting in second place but was promoted to first of the line due to pole-sitter Charles Leclerc not being able to start the race.

From then onwards, Verstappen lead the race from start to finish, with just a small charge from Carlos Sainz Jr in the mid stages threating him, to set him up for his first win in Monaco. 

Carlos Sainz Jr

Qualifying margin to team-mate: + 0:265s  | Race margin to team-mate: Teammate did not start

Sainz Jr. secure his first podium since joining Scuderia Ferrari. The Spaniard had been surprisingly strong all weekend, coming second in every practice session and qualifying in fourth. 

His race couldn’t have gone any better. His teammate Leclerc was unable to start the race due to an issue with his car sustained from his qualifying crash, promoting him to third on the race start.

Sainz Jr. spent a lot of the race behind Valtteri Bottas, unable to overtake him due to Monaco being notorious for being difficult to overtake on. His fortune turned when Bottas was forced to retire due to a pit-stop issue. 

Now up to second, Sainz Jr. attempted to have a go on Verstappen for the win but could never get close enough, crossing the line in second. He needed a weekend like this one to prove Ferrari made the right choice in putting their faith in him.

Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Lando Norris

Qualifying margin to team-mate: Teammate knocked out in Q2  | Race margin to team-mate: – 1 Lap

Lando Norris gained his second podium of the season with a third-place finish. The McLaren F1 Team driver has gone from strength to strength this season, claiming points in every race and outperforming his experienced teammate, Daniel Ricciardo.

Norris had the pace all weekend to gain important points. The downfall of Leclerc and Bottas played well for him. Sergio Pérez was right on his tail in the latter stages of the race but managed to hold off the charging bull for third. 

The young Brit is the one to watch this year.

Sergio Pérez

Qualifying margin to team-mate: + 0:997s | Race margin to team-mate: + 20.490s

Sergio Pérez’s weekend looked as if it was going to be another poor one in comparison to his teammate. He qualified in ninth and with Monaco being difficult to overtake on, it looked as if he would more than likely finish there.

However, Red Bull Racing played a tactical game, keeping Pérez out for as long as possible before pitting him. By the time he pitted, he had built up a big enough gap to slip into fourth, where he eventually finished. 

Sebastian Vettel

Qualifying margin to team-mate: Teammate knocked out in Q2 | Race margin to team-mate: – 1 Lap

Coming into Monaco, Sebastian Vettel was yet to score any points this season. With qualifying position being so important at Monaco, Vettel pushed his Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team car into Q3 and qualified eighth.

In race, Vettel also got his tactics right, getting the undercut on both Lewis Hamilton and Pierre Gasly with his pit stop. He eventually crossed the line in fifth and was subsequently voted Driver of the Day by the viewers at home for what has was his best race this year. 

Credit: Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team

Pierre Gasly

Qualifying margin to team-mate: Teammate knocked out in Q1  | Race margin to team-mate: – 1 Lap

Pierre Gasly had his best finish of the season, coming in sixth overall. Gasly had Hamilton sitting right behind him all race, but the world champion was never able to activate an overtake. 

Hamilton also pitted early in the hope to get the undercut on Gasly but the Frenchman was able to keep his position. He’s started the season strong, only missing out on the top ten on one occasion.

Antonio Giovinazzi

Qualifying margin to team-mate: Teammate knocked out in Q2  | Race margin to team-mate: – 1 Lap

Not only did Antonio Giovinazzi give Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN their first Q3 entry of the year, but he was also able to secure their first point on the board.

Giovinazzi has put in some good performance’s all year but has struggled to get his car into the points. Monaco was finally the place that gifted him for all his efforts so far.

HOMEWORK TO DO

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

It was a weekend to forget for the reigning champions. It was already evident from Thursday’s practice session that Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team seemed to be off the mark in Monaco. 

Come qualifying, things didn’t get any better with Bottas and Hamilton coming third and seventh respectively. On race day, Bottas was doing well, now up to second, but his race came to a premature end.

During the routine pitstop, the crew struggled to get the front right wheel off of his car due to an issue with the wheel nut. After a few attempts, the team ultimately decided to retire. 

Hamilton tried to salvage something from his race but attempting an undercut on Gasly when coming into pit. This didn’t work, leaving Hamilton stuck in seventh at a track that is difficult to overtake on. Something went wrong for Mercedes this weekend and they’ll be hoping it doesn’t repeat itself at Baku.

Credit: LAT Images

Daniel Ricciardo 

Qualifying margin to team-mate: Knocked out in Q2 | Race margin to team-mate: + 1 lap

Something just isn’t clicking with Ricciardo and his McLaren. The veteran driver failed to reach Q3 for the second time this season, qualifying in twelth. Being already outside of the points before the race started meant it would be a tall order for him to grab any at a track he loves so much.

Off the start, Ricciardo saw himself fall down a place and struggled to regain momentum. He spent his race sat behind Kimi Räikkönen, unable to overtake despite having the pace. He was also lapped by his teammate, something that has never happened in his F1 career before. He crossed the finish line in twelfth, losing the season streak McLaren had of both drivers finishing in the points at every race. 

Charles Leclerc

Qualifying margin to team-mate: – 0:265s  | Race margin to team-mate: DNS

Leclerc had the high of gaining pole at his home grand prix to the low of not being able to start the race.

The Monegasque driver had been strong all weekend. He gained pole but not in the best of ways. In the dying stages of Q3 during qualifying, Leclerc crashed his car into the barriers after clipping one of the corners, red flagging and subsequently ending qualifying.

Leclerc got to keep his pole, but all eyes were on Ferrari as to whether his car needed a gearbox change. Come race day, they confirmed no changes were needed and Leclerc was all clear to race. 

As Leclerc was making his way to the grid, he noticed an issue with his car. Going back into the pit, Ferrari noticed an issue with his driveshaft, something they hadn’t checked after his crash. The team then had to make the heartbreak decision to not start the race. 

Despite not being able to race in his home race, Leclerc still joined the team to celebrate Sainz Jr’s. podium.

Fernando Alonso

Qualifying margin to team-mate: Knocked out in Q1  | Race margin to team-mate: + 1 Lap

The two-time world champion qualified in seventeenth and finished in thirteenth. He may have gained places during the race, but his weekend was lacklustre and disappointing. He’s had early signs of showing his speed during the season but that wasn’t unfortunately on show this weekend.

Credit: Alpine F1 Team

Yuki Tsunoda

Qualifying margin to team-mate: Knocked out in Q1  | Race margin to team-mate: + 1 Lap

Yuki Tsunoda’s rookie season got off to a good start but since then he’s fallen further down the grid. Tsunoda was unable to get out of Q1, qualifying in sixteenth and finishing in the same position. It could have been even worse for him if all twenty drivers finished the race.

The young Japanese driver still has a lot of work to do, especially when his Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda teammate Gasly is constantly scoring points.

THE REST OF THE FIELD

Esteban Ocon wasn’t able to reach Q3 in qualifying but still managed to climb into the points, finishing in ninth. Lance Stroll also started out of the points but finished in them. He crossed the line eighth, gaining five positions on his start, the most of anyone on the grid. 

Kimi Räikkönen came close to overtaking his teammate Giovinazzi for the last points position but it never came to fruition, coming eleventh.

The Williams Racing duo of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi floated around the bottom half of the table, finishing fifteenth and eighteenth overall.

Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher had yet another disappointing weekend in the Uralkali Haas F1 Teamcar. Schumacher was unable to complete qualifying after crashing his car during Free Practice 3 meaning he would be starting from the back and Mazepin wasn’t too far in front in nineteenth. Mazepin and Schumacher finished the race in seventeenth and eighteenth respectively and were also lapped by the race leader three times.

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