There were horror stories across the grand prix grid as Max Verstappen romped home in the Monaco Grand Prix.
Pole sitter Charles Leclerc failed to start after a failure in his Ferrari – not the gearbox according to team boss Mattia Binotto – on the formation lap as the result of a qualifying crash.
Valtteri Bottas retired from second when the right-front wheel refused to release at his pitstop.
Daniel Ricciardo was lapped by his third-placed team mate Lando Norris as he finished a miserable 12th.
And Lewis Hamilton looked anything but a world champion as he trailed home in seventh and handed the lead in the world championship fight to Verstappen.
So Verstappen and Red Bull were the winners, but Mercedes were the losers and that has injected even more interest into the world title fight for season 2021 as the young Dutchman leads the points for the first time in his career and Red Bull also surged past Benz in the manufacturers’ standings.
“It’s so special around here to win. An amazing race. It’s a lot of laps and you really have to keep your focus,” said Verstappen.
“You never know what’s going to happen. But, yeah, it was pretty much in control.
“Of course, you always want to win this grand prix. I’m very proud. But I’m also looking ahead.
The race was as boring as any at Monaco once Verstappen had blocked Bottas on the run to the first corner, where he capitalised on the absence of Leclerc on pole position.
Carlos Sainz was second as a resurgent Ferrari did well, although no-one is expecting the car to be as fast at ‘regular’ circuits, ahead of Norris and Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull.
But Sainz was still unhappy about Leclerc’s qualifying crash as he felt it had robbed him of pole. Just like Verstappen and Norris and Perez … but not Hamilton.
“It is a good result. It maybe doesn’t taste as good as it should,” said Sainz.
“The bittersweet feeling is still there though as I feel for Charles and for the team. All of us here at the track and back home in Maranello are working incredibly hard to be competitive and to make our way back to the top. So it was very unfortunate that today we could not fight with two cars.
“From my side, I am obviously happy with P2 because I think it was the maximum we could achieve today from where we started. We are still missing the final step that we all want to make, but if we keep pushing like this I’m sure we will get there sooner rather than later.”
“I didn’t think I would be here today. It’s always a dream to be on the podium here. ” said Norris
“A bit of luck. It’s special here, so I’ll cherish it.”
For Hamilton, who was also hurt when his pit-crew miss-timed his tyre stop, there was suppressed anger and disappointment.
“This has definitely been a poor weekend overall in terms of our performance, but this team has shown time and time again, how we come back fighting. There’s no finger pointing, we win and we lose together,” he said.
“This has just been a bit of a weekend to forget for me, unfortunately. The race was always going to be tricky after a difficult qualifying session yesterday and that’s how it turned out,”he said.
““On the positive side, it was a great result for Lando and the team, so congratulations to everyone. It shows the pace is there in the car.”
Sebastian Vettel looked more like a four-time champion as he drove to fifth, his first significant result since joining Aston Martin.
“It’s a great result for us. And we can be happy having two cars in the points,” said Vettel.
But both Verstappen and Hamilton are already looking ahead to the next race at Baku in Azerbaijan, with the reigning champion concerned about another hit for Mercedes.
“We’ll just put our focus onto the next race.It’s another one we could struggle at. We just have to work on how to minimise the loss,” said Hamilton.
MONACO GRAND PRIX
- Max Verstappen, Red Bull
- Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
- Lando Norris, McLaren
- Sergio Perez, Red Bull
- Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin
- Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
- Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
- Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
- Esteban Ocon, Alpine
- Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo
- Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo
- Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren
- Fernando Alonso, Alpine
- George Russell, Williams
- Nicholas Latifi, Williams
- Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
- Nikita Mazepin, Haas
- Mick Schumacher, Haas
Retired. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
Non-starter. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari