The streets of Monte Carlo returned to the Formula 1 scene for the first time since 2019 after a one-year absence. In a track that is difficult to overtake, Max Verstappen held his lead from the very beginning and dominated to win the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix and take the lead in the F1 driver’s championship standings.
Monaco native Charles Leclerc took pole in a dramatic qualifying session that saw him crash with under a minute left in Q3, causing qualifying to end under a red flag. With his pole position, Ferrari risked using the same gearbox Leclerc used in qualifying on Saturday to keep their pole position and prevent dropping five places on the grid.
The gamble backfired as an issue with the left driveshaft in the gearbox prevented Leclerc from participating in the race. With Leclerc not being able to start the race, every driver moved up a position in the starting grid.
Max Verstappen took advantage of Leclerc’s misfortunes and took the lead at the start of the race, blocking Valtteri Bottas from passing him in the inside lane. The top-10 drivers all held their respective positions through the first part of the race before the pit stops commenced.
When pit stops commenced around lap 30, Bottas’ front-right wheel tire would not come off, forcing him to retire from the race after running second. Also, Lewis Hamilton pitted first from sixth place but failed to overtake Pierre Gasly from fifth place.
Sebastian Vettel, who won at Monaco in 2011 and 2017, blazed his way past Hamilton and Gasly for fifth place after his pit stop.
Sergio Perez, who was running in eighth place before pit stops commenced, undercut Hamilton, Gasly and Vettel for fourth place.
Verstappen held his lead nearly the entire race to pick up his second win of the 2021 season. Hamilton picked up the fastest lap of the race, but finished seventh. After the race, Verstappen moves four points ahead of Hamilton in the driver’s championship.
Carlos Sainz, Leclerc’s teammate at Ferrari, pushed his way up to second place after Leclerc and Bottas retired from the race and held his spot for his third-career F1 podium and his first with Ferrari in his debut 2021 season.
Sainz’s former teammate, Lando Norris, finished third to pick up his second podium of the 2021 season. Norris moves up to third in the driver’s championship after Bottas’ DNF.
Perez finished fourth after his undercut strategy worked to move him up four positions from his eighth-place start.
Vettel finished fifth for his first points in 2021. His Aston Martin teammate, Lance Stroll, used a hard-tire strategy at the start of the race, vaulting him to eighth place after starting 13th. This is the first time this season both Aston Martin drivers finished in the top 10.
Gasly finished sixth after holding off Hamilton, his best finish so far this season.
Esteban Ocon and Antonio Giovinazzi, who picked up his first point of the 2021 season, round out the top 10.
Formula 1 will head to Baku in two weeks for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on June 6.