Formula 1

Verstappen wins Monaco Grand Prix to take Championship lead

4 Mins read
Image Credit : Red Bull Racing

Red Bull Racing Honda‘s Max Verstappen took a historic win at the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix, with the Dutchman and his team taking the lead in the Drivers’ and Constructors’ championships ahead of Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team. Verstappen took the win ahead of Scuderia Ferrari‘s Carlos Sainz Jr. and McLaren F1 Team‘s Lando Norris.

After his crash at the end of yesterday’s qualifying, pole-sitter Charles Leclerc did not start the race after an issue with his left driveshaft on the installation lap surfaced – caused by the crash. It meant for only the second time ever, the first positioned starter – that being Verstappen – will be begin from the dirtier, less grippy left hand side of the grid. 

Clean through Sainte Devote with no touches, Max Verstappen covered Valtteri Bottas off aggressively off the line, with no major changes to the top ten on the first lap. The best starter off the grid was Alpine F1 Team’s Fernando Alonso who gained two positions from the start to get up to fourteenth place. 

Monaco is not known for overtaking action outside of the first lap, so after the opening lap the team switched their focus into tyre management and race strategy through the pit stops. Everyone is trying to stay in the zone, fully focused until the pit window opens around lap 23. Lewis Hamilton, who qualified in seventh place, found it hard to follow Pierre Gasly’s Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda by lap eight, with the seven time world champion sharing his frustrations with the team over the radio.

On Lap 12 George Russell ran into trouble after experiencing a delay every time he tries to shift into top gear out of the tunnel. On the same lap, Nikita Mazepin received a black and white flag for exceeding track limits, followed by Lando Norris just a few laps later.

By Lap 24 Sainz Jr. was now in range to perform an undercut on Bottas ahead in second place, meanwhile while the Finn has dropped out of range of race leader Verstappen. Bottas reports that it feels like he’s driving around on Wet tyre which signified big tyre management struggles at Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team.

Hamilton attempted to use his pit stop, onto the hard compound, in order to undercut Gasly up ahead, however the Brit was unable to pull this off. His teammate, Bottas pitted a lap later to swap out his tyres, but this turned into further turmoil for the Brackley-based outfit, as the wheel nut jammed and the pit crew struggled to remove the wheel from car #77. It turned into heartbreak for second place Bottas as he retired from the race.

Gasly pitted on the same lap and managed to remain ahead of Hamilton, with Sebastian Vettel completing an overcut on both Hamilton and Gasly just a few laps later.

On lap 34 Verstappen pitted perfectly and Sergio Pérez took the lead from him. The Mexican laps wonderfully and ends up coming out from his pit stop in fourth place, gaining four places from his original position. Red Bull Racing Honda completely outmaneuvered Mercedes in this race, getting their revenge for Mercedes outmaneuvering them at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Sainz put on a charge on Lap 41, quickly catching up to Verstappen despite having to lap plenty of backmarkers. Esteban Ocon overcuts Antonio Giovinazzi for the net ninth place and the other Uralkali Haas F1 Team car of Mick Schumacher is presented with the black and white flag. Into another tyre management period we go as all the teams stop pushing hard to make positions.

Aston Martin Formula One Team‘s Lance Stroll finally pitted on Lap 59 after starting on the Hard tyre and building up enough of a gap to Ocon behind to allow him to come out ahead in eighth place. An incredible day of strategy from the Aston Martin crew to seal their first double points finish of the year.

Hamilton pitted late in order to secure the fastest lap of the race as a consolation for the horrible race. Norris pulled clear of Pérez for third place while Yuki Tsunoda had a scary moment where he nearly slid into the back of Nicolas Latifi into Rascasse, just saving himself at the last second.

The race ended with Verstappen crossing the line to win the Monaco Grand Prix for the first time in his career. He also now leads the World Championship, also for the first time in his career. It was a podium full of first-timers at Monaco as Sainz came home in second and his former team-mate Norris rounded off the podium spots in third. Red Bull driver Pérez came home in fourth. An impressive day from Aston Martin sees Driver of the Day Vettel fifth and Stroll eighth. Mercedes will be bitterly disappointed as Hamilton finished in seventh and with the fastest lap.

A hugely significant afternoon in the fight for the championship as Red Bull took first place in the Constructors Championship for the first time in the turbo-hybrid era. This race also had the Most points scoring teams in a single race (8) in that time, and the third youngest ever podium in Formula One history.

133Max VerstappenNEDRed Bull Racing Honda1:38:56.82025
255Carlos Sainz Jr.ESPScuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow+8.968s18
34Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team+19.427s15
411Sergio PérezMEXRed Bull Racing Honda+20.490s12
55Sebastian VettelGERAston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team+52.591s10
610Pierre GaslyFRAScuderia AlphaTauri Honda+53.896s8
744Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team+68.231s7*
818Lance StrollCANAston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team+1 lap4
931Esteban OconFRAAlpine F1 Team+1 lap2
1099Antonio GiovinazziITAAlfa Romeo Racing ORLEN+1 lap1
117Kimi RäikkönenFINAlfa Romeo Racing ORLEN+1 lap0
123Daniel RicciardoAUSMcLaren F1 Team+1 lap0
1314Fernando AlonsoESPAlpine F1 Team+1 lap0
1463George RussellGBRWilliams F1 Team+1 lap0
156Nicolas LatifiCANWilliams F1 Team+1 lap0
1622Yuki TsunodaJAPScuderia AlphaTauri Honda+1 lap0
179Nikita MazepinRUSUralkali Haas F1 Team+3 laps0
1847Mick SchumacherGERUralkali Haas F1 Team+3 laps0
1977Valtteri BottasFINMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One TeamDNF0
2016Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow0DNS0
Final Results
*Denotes Extra Point for Fastest Lap
17 posts

About author
Michael is a young writer from Drogheda in Ireland. He has watched Formula 1 since 2010 and fell in love with Formula 1 after the Canadian Grand Prix in 2011. He previously hosted a little known podcast called "The Commentary Box" for 4 years on Belfield FM. He is a newcomer to sports writing and cut his teeth in with Political Opinion pieces in his college newspaper. He won the 2021 SPARC Journalism Award for Best Political Piece and hopes to build on his achievements over time.
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