Red Bull Shines at Monaco

The Monaco Grand Prix one of the oldest races in Formula 1. This race has been held 79 times since 1929. Currently, the contract for future races is being negotiated and there is some doubt that Monaco will make the list next year. Though there is a strong racing history tied to the Monaco Grand Prix, the race itself has become somewhat boring. The track winds thru the narrow streets of Monaco. While scenic, it is extraordinarily difficult to pass. Unless a team has brilliant strategy, how you qualify is likely how you will finish.

Ferrari were clearly the front runners coming into Sunday’s race. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished P1 and P2 on Saturday, followed closely by Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen. Leclerc had yet to finish this race in his Formula 1 career. The stage was set for a great race on Sunday. Then, the rain came. Weather delayed the start of the race for over 45 minutes. The grid drove a few formulation laps and then they were red flagged. The drivers waited in the paddock watching the rain soak the track. Eventually they were allowed on the track, and they ran a few laps around the track behind the safety car before engaging in a rolling start. Everyone on the grid started with their wet weather tires. As the track continued to dry, tire changes were inevitable.

For the front runners, tire changes started at lap 17. Sergio Perez boxed, and his crew changed him to the intermediate tires. During the same lap, Carlos Sainz was calling for the slicks. He did not want to come in for intermediates. He preferred to be patient and Ferrari agreed. During Lap 18, Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen came in to change to the intermediate tires. After the first run of pit stops, the running order put Sainz in first, Perez in second, Leclerc in third and Verstappen in fourth.

Ferrari lost their race in laps 21 and 22. During Lap 21, it appeared Ferrari called both of their cars in to change to the hard slicks. Sainz came in first as planned. However, Leclerc was told to stay out, but he came into the pit anyway. Leclerc’s pitstop was slower than normal as it was unplanned. As, Sainz left pitlane, Leclerc was shouting angrily but Sainz had other issues to deal with. There were lap cars between him and Max Verstappen. Both Red Bull’s pitted on Lap 22. The lap cars between Sainz and Verstappen slowed Sainz down and when Verstappen and Perez came out of pit lane, Perez popped out ahead of Sainz and Verstappen came out ahead of Leclerc. To make matters worse, there was still a lap car between Sainz and Perez, as Perez exited pit lane. The new order was Perez in first, Sainz in second, Verstappen in third and Leclerc in fourth. Unfortunately, the miscommunication between Ferrari and Leclerc destroyed any chance he had to win his home country race this year.

The race was largely uneventful after that. However, during lap 28 Mick Schumacher lost control of his Haas and broke the car into two pieces. The race was reflagged to fix the barriers. Once racing resumed, the grid was racing to time, and not laps. There was thirty minutes of racing left. As the front of the grid was pulling away, Alpine told Fernando Alonzo to hold up Lewis Hamilton. Since Alonzo was running seventh, he held up the rest of the grid to the tune of a thirty second delay, while the top 6 cars pulled away from him.

Tire strategy and execution led to Ferrari’s demise and Red Bull’s victory. Ferrari will need to fix their communication issues to keep Leclerc in contention. Perhaps Leclerc needs to be less impetuous. It was nice to see Sergio Perez win his third Formula 1 Grand Prix in his career. George Russell continued his streak of seven consecutive top five finishes. Finally, Charles Leclerc finally finished a Monaco Grand Prix. It remains to be seen if he will have another opportunity to win it.

Max Verstappen finished third on Sunday. It was the first race he finished that he didn’t win. Verstappen took it in stride. He was calm. He understood the situation. It is important to remember that though Verstappen is only 24 years old, he has been racing in Formula 1 since 2015. He has perspective. He has a championship under his belt, and this gives him an added confidence in his own abilities. He still holds the championship lead but there are 15 races this year.

Formula 1 heads to Azerbaijan. Sergio Perez won in their last year. Will he pull off his fourth career grand prix win on 12 June?

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