Max Verstappen led from start to finish to win the Monaco Grand Prix and take the lead in the Drivers’ Championship as Lewis Hamilton struggled, finishing seventh.
Verstappen dominated the weekend and looked untroubled in the race. “I think once we had the lead from turn one, we could manage the pace quite well,” he said.
The Monaco GP is notorious for its difficulty in overtaking, and Lewis Hamilton paid the price for a poor qualifying session as the reigning champion struggled all race to overtake the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly.
Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff echoed Hamilton, saying: “We lacked the pace all weekend.
“The undercut looked the only feasible way of clearing Gasly, but the gap he (Gasly) had was sufficient to stay head. There wasn’t any mistakes.”
Charles Leclerc was due to start the race from pole position, but on the way to the grid the Monegasque driver reported an issue stemming from his crash in qualifying, leaving the Ferrari driver unable to start the race.
Leclerc has never finished a race in his home grand prix. “I’m getting used to this feeling here. It’s a difficult one to take but I feel for the team to be honest,” said Leclerc.
Valtteri Bottas was on track to finish second in the race before a failed pit-stop retired the Finnish driver. “I couldn’t believe what happened,” said Bottas. “It’s a big mistake by us as a team that we need to learn from.”
Carlos Sainz earned his first podium as a Ferrari driver. The Spaniard was untroubled during the race and showed Ferrari have overcome their issues from last season.
Sainz said: “The team deserves to at least get a podium this weekend, but the bittersweet feeling is still there because I’ve had the pace to put it on pole or at least win this weekend.”
McLaren’s Lando Norris finished third, rounding off the third youngest podium in Formula 1’s history. The 21-year-old had to defend against the faster car of Sergio Perez as the McLaren struggled on degrading tyres.
“It’s pretty incredible, I never though it could happen coming into this weekend,” said Norris. The Britons second podium of the season moves him third in the Championship with 56 points.
Verstappen’s win leaves Red Bull leading the Constructors’ Championship for the first time in the turbo-hybrid era. Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner said: “It was important for us to come here and score large, and that’s what we’ve done.
“Max converted the race beautifully, he controlled it from the very first corner and the strategy worked well.”
Verstappen now leads the Drivers’ Championship for the first time in his career with Hamilton trailing by four points.
“There’s still a long way to go,” said Verstappen. “We still have to work hard because we know that Mercedes on normal tracks is the one to beat.”