New Championship Leader Max Verstappen Wins In Monaco As Leclerc Left In Despair

Verstappen has overtaken Hamilton at the top of the standings
16:26, 23 May 2021

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen strengthened his bid to win the Drivers' Championship by heading to the top of the standings with a masterful display in Monaco. He led from start to finish and made no errors as he scooped the 25 points on offer, while title rival Lewis Hamilton finished down in seventh. 

On the narrow street circuit where overtaking opportunities are rare, the real drama came before the race even started. Home hero Charles Leclerc had qualified on pole for Ferrari and was aiming to become the first Monégasque winner of the race since 1931 however an issue with his gearbox, picked up in the crash yesterday, came back to haunt the team. 

Just half an hour before lights out, as Leclerc was taking his car to the grid, he realised there was a big issue with his Ferrari. Back to the pits he went and although they tried to fix the issue, it quickly became apparent that his race was over, before it had even begun. The home favourite trudged up the pit lane, rubbing his eyes, as the crowd cheered for him. He would have gone to bed dreaming of making history at the chequered flag this afternoon, yet instead his worst nightmare came to fruition. 

His absence meant that there was no pole sitter, which opened up the grid. Verstappen was the main beneficiary of his absence as he had a clear run into turn one from P2. The 23-year-old edged out Valtteri Bottas off the line and that proved key as Red Bull got the better of Mercedes in what could prove to be a vital weekend in the Formula One calendar. 

Although it should have been Leclerc’s weekend, Ferrari did taste some success as Carlos Sainz came home in second place and he embraced his emotional teammate before heading to the podium, although the look of disappointment was clear for all to see on Leclerc’s face. That is Sainz’s first top three finish as a Ferrari driver while Lando Norris continued his impressive season by securing his second podium finish for McLaren. 

CharlesLeclercjpg

Sainz commented after the race: "It's just the whole circumstance of the weekend, having Charles' problems today and me missing out in qualifying, maybe it doesn't taste as good as it should. But I'm sure when I reflect back, I think Ferrari need to be proud about the car and the step we've made.

"When you see the other car not starting on pole, all of a sudden the responsibility relies on you to salvage a bit of the weekend. You want to give the team at least a podium, and it was all about getting the start right.”

With Hamilton down in seventh, it was a chance for others to make ground on the seven time champion as Sergio Perez finished fourth for Red Bull, Sebastien Vettel fifth for Aston Martin and Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly up in sixth. The top six will all be delighted with their finishing spots but there was an undeniable feeling of disappointment around the circuit that Leclerc was not part of the spectacle.

One thing is certain after today. We have a seriously competitive Drivers' Championship on our hands this season. 

Results: 

  1. Verstappen (Red Bull)

  2. Sainz (Ferrari, +8.9)

  3. Norris (McLaren, +19.4)

  4. Perez (Red Bull, +20.4)

  5. Vettel (Aston Martin, +52.5)

  6. Gasly (Alpha Tauri, +53.8)

  7. Hamilton (Mercedes, +68.2)

  8. Stroll (Aston Martin, one lap)

  9. Ocon (Alpine, one lap)

  10. Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo, one lap)

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