F1: Six things we learned from the Monaco Grand Prix
Ferrari’s strategy leaves Charles Leclerc fuming as Red Bull step in to take full advantage – and is Sergio Perez now a genuine title contender? THINGS WE LEARNED from the Monaco GP
- The Monaco Grand Prix attracted a host of celebrities over the weekend
- On the track, Ferrari made a poor strategic call which cost Charles Leclerc
- This allowed Sergio Perez to step in and claim his first win of the season
- He has now closed the gap on his team-mate Max Verstappen in the standings
- It was a disappointing afternoon for seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton
- The race was delayed by over an hour due to torrential rain in Monaco
The Monaco Grand Prix is always a race that stands out on the sporting calendar, and it delivered an intriguing spectacle on Sunday.
With the race delayed due to torrential rain, it added an extra bit of drama to the event this time around, and did not play out like a procession as it has done in years gone by.
Sergio Perez managed to pick up his first victory of the season, having started the day in third, on what was a disappointing afternoon for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. Sportsmail analyses six things we learned in Monaco.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez won his first race of the season at the Monaco Grand Prix
LECLERC CANNOT CATCH A BREAK
For the second week running, Leclerc failed to finish first despite opening up a commanding lead.
While in Barcelona, he was unfortunate to have to retire from the race due to power failure, this time things could have been very different if Ferrari had made the right calls with their pit-stops.
Having navigated his way through tricky conditions early on, Leclerc was in full control of the race, and seemingly on course for a comprehensive victory.
However, Ferrari then told Leclerc to pit for dry tyres immediately after his team-mate Carlos Sainz, only to change their mind once he was already in the pit lane.
Leclerc found himself behind the Red Bulls despite dominating the race early on
Leclerc endured a frustrating afternoon as he could only finish the race down in fourth place
Leclerc was furious with his team’s indecisiveness, and when he re-entered the race, he had dropped down to fourth place, which is where he finished.
His message on the radio to his team afterwards was clear: ‘No words. The season is long, but we cannot do that.’
It is hard to argue with Leclerc’s assessment, and it will be virtually impossible for him to beat off the challenge of Max Verstappen if Ferrari keep getting basic decisions wrong.
The 24-year-old did not even get to start last year’s Monaco Grand Prix due to a gearbox problem, and he may be beginning to feel that bad luck is following him around when it comes to racing on his home track.
RED BULL GET THEIR STRATEGY SPOT ON
With Perez and Verstappen starting down in third and fourth place, respectively, Red Bull may have had reservations about how they were going to move up the field, given how difficult it is to overtake at Monaco.
If they were going to pull a victory out the bag, their strategy needed to be faultless – and it was.
Of course, Ferrari gave them a helping hand, but Red Bull still had to take advantage of their mistake.
Sergio Perez benefited from Ferrari’s mistake to win the Monaco Grand Prix
Max Verstappen (R) also got on the podium after starting the race down in fourth
In a game of cat-and-mouse, Red Bull opted to pit their cars first, while Ferrari followed a couple of laps later.
It proved to be the right move for Red Bull as Perez moved into the lead, while Verstappen edged ahead of Leclerc and into a podium position.
From then on, it was always going to be hard for the two Ferraris to fight back on such a narrow track, leaving Perez and Verstappen to finish inside the top three.
Strategy is crucial when it comes to fighting for the championship, and Red Bull nailed theirs on Sunday.
PEREZ CAN CHALLENGE VERSTAPPEN
In Barcelona, Perez was ordered to move aside for Verstappen to take the lead, and he put up very little fight as his team-mate cruised to a comfortable win.
The Mexican was respectful after the race, but did not appear to be completely happy with conceding his place to his fellow driver.
At the Monaco Grand Prix, an opportunity presented itself to Perez and he took it. He benefited from Leclerc’s misfortune, and rarely looked like giving up his spot on the top step of the podium on this occasion.
Perez is now 15 points behind Verstappen in the standings, and he proved on Sunday that he can compete at the front of the pack.
In the early stages of the season, it has looked like being a straight fight for the title between Verstappen and Leclerc. Perez could have something to say about that in the coming months.
Perez was delighted to get on the top step of the podium for the first time this year
He is now just 15 points behind Verstappen, and looks ready to challenge his team-mate
IT IS NOT GETTING ANY EASIER FOR HAMILTON
There was genuine optimism at Mercedes after how the Spanish Grand Prix played out.
George Russell finished on the podium, while Lewis Hamilton recovered from an early collision to finish in fifth place.
Mercedes chief Toto Wolff claimed afterwards that Hamilton could have competed for victory if he hadn’t have been hit early on, while he also stated that the Silver Arrows were still capable of competing for the championship.
However, it quickly became apparent during Friday’s practice in Monaco that Hamilton was having problems with his car.
Lewis Hamilton got into a battle with Esteban Ocon and was clipped by his fellow driver’s car
Hamilton had a disappointing weekend, and he could only finish down in eighth
George Russell got the better of his team-mate to extend his advantage in the standings
He finished second practice down in 12th, and was unable to contain his frustration in the morning session as he stated on the radio: ‘I am f***ing losing my mind.’
The 37-year-old managed to qualify in eighth, but he was unable to improve on this position in the race, and his mood was not helped when he clipped wings with Esteban Ocon during a hard battle between the pair.
Once again, Hamilton was beaten by his team-mate, and his faint hopes of getting back into championship contention are fading fast.
RACING AUTHORITIES MUST BE MORE PROACTIVE WITH RAIN DELAYS
Shortly before the race was due to begin, the rain started teeming down, and it was decided that a delay to proceedings was necessary.
Despite the weather clearing relatively quickly, with just a light drizzle lingering, the race did not get underway until over an hour later.
Much of this time was spent with various commentators and reporters looking up at the skies and predicting when the rain would stop completely. It wasn’t exactly riveting viewing.
There was heavy rain in Monaco which caused the race to be delayed by over an hour
Hamilton insisted in his post-race interview that there should have been no delay in the first place.
‘We are Formula One drivers so (the weather) is not a good enough reason,’ he said.
‘That is what I was saying. I was like “let’s go” when it was just drizzling a little bit at the beginning.
‘We will talk about it in the drivers’ briefing but we should have started the race.’
Hamilton believes the race should have started on time despite the torrential rain
Safety is of paramount importance in Formula One, but if a seven-time champion is saying that the race should have got underway, he’s probably got a point.
It did not look particularly dangerous, and the wet track could have made things more exciting and really tested the drivers’ skills in tricky conditions.
Instead, we were made to wait, and the full 72 laps of the race were not completed in the end. A disappointing outcome, and one that should not be allowed to happen again.
MONACO SHOULD NOT TAKE ITS FORMULA ONE SPOT FOR GRANTED
Sunday’s race was hardly a boring affair. The strategy battle between Ferrari and Red Bull was fascinating, while Mick Schumacher’s high-speed crash into the barriers which split his car in two – thankfully he was unhurt – was a particularly dramatic moment.
However, a familiar issue arose as there was very little overtaking on show.
Mercedes boss Wolff seemed a little underwhelmed with how the race transpired.
‘Formula One is important for Monaco, and Monaco is important for Formula One,’ he told reporters.
There was very little overtaking on the narrow streets of Monaco on Sunday
‘But it needs a positive approach from both parties.
‘Monaco has to embrace the new realities of what Formula One stands for the and the impact it has on the world.
‘Monaco will always be respected within the Formula One community as something that is special and if we didn’t race in Monaco, that would be a shame from my perspective as a team owner.
‘But no one should take anything for granted.’
Toto Wolff thinks Monaco should not take its place on the Formula One calendar for granted
The attraction of Monaco is obvious. Its stunning scenery and historic streets attract celebrities to the race every year, and that won’t change any time soon.
However, out on the track, there is far too often a lack of drama, and that is a major problem.
Formula One needs to be entertaining, and it is debatable as to whether it lacks that element in Monaco.
Can Monaco adapt? It might have to if it is to continue getting its annual race in May.
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