Sergio Perez secured an important win from Carlos Sainz at the Monaco Grand Prix, but it was a race that was disrupted by rain, had a delayed start and two red flags. Stop and start would be a good description, but we didn’t even get a proper start as the race began under the safety car, over an hour after it should have.
Home favourite Charles Leclerc was on pole, but his nightmare on this track continued after Red Bull nailed their strategy, and Ferrari botched a key pit stop. All teams ran around like headless chickens changing their tyres as the start was delayed, but a red flag brought a halt to any thoughts of the race panning out as expected.
With rain rolling around the Monte Carlo streets, race control prioritised safety on this track that is just so narrow. It took a whole hour before the cars were back out ready for the start, at which point even the most ardent F1 fan had lost appetite for what many thought was going to be a procession. As it turned out, the drama happened in the pit lane rather than on track to prevent a Ferrari win.
Max Verstappen had said in the build-up that overtaking was impossible in these cars, and he would be proved right late on, as the top four failed to make any moves on each other, even though they were in close vicinity.
When the race did eventually begin, it was a rolling start after two safety car laps. Nicolas Latifi and Lance Stroll were forced to pit after collisions but they, along with Pierre Gasley went onto intermediates early on. With the track drying up, those that had changed at the back of the pack were slightly quicker than those at the front.
The tyres would prove the major test for those at the front of the pack, who were desperate not to give up track position.
By lap 17, both Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez had gone onto the intermediates while Ferrari with Sainz wanted to get through to slicks. As Leclerc and Verstappen played it safe by going onto the inters, the Spaniard led the race, but was being chased down by Perez.
Lewis Hamilton reflects on his P8 in Monaco after he was stuck behind the Alpines👇
Ferrari then made a double switch which cost Leclerc big time. Sainz went onto slick hard tyres and Leclerc followed him into the pits, when the team told him to stay out. Ferrari managed to get the hard tyres on his car, but the home driver was left furious.
The Red Bulls then pitted onto hards, and set up an epic top four. Perez came out in front of Sainz, with Verstappen in third and Leclerc in fourth. Only four seconds covered the top four while both Mercedes had found huge pace, with George Russell up to fifth.
Mick Schumacher then had a huge crash which separated his back axle from his car, but luckily he was okay and walked away. That caused the second red flag of the race and the cars headed back to the pits again, as the fans grew increasingly frustrated. With the track now dry, the 77 laps were unable to be completed and so the clock started to tick down.
For the final 25 minutes after the restart, this was barely a Formula One race. With all cars now on the correct tyres, it was simply a procession. Lap after lap, they followed each other round, with the distance between the top four barely changing.
Monaco’s history as a race track is outstanding, but this shambles of a Sunday proved it isn’t really a spectacle from a motorsport perspective anymore. The track is too narrow, the cars are too wide and with no DRS in the rain, there are almost no opportunities for overtaking. After the crash which Schumacher was lucky to walk away from, this wasn’t a race for viewers to enjoy and questions about the track's future on the circuit will be raised once again.
The contract is up this summer, but perhaps its time we left Monaco in the past.
Verstappen holds the Championship lead after a third place finish finish and next up, after a two-week break, a brutal double-header in Baku and Montreal!