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Max Verstappen wins the Monaco Grand Prix: 'So special'

Published on 23 May 2021 by Kees-Jan Koster

Max Verstappen triumphantly won the Monaco Grand Prix. The Dutchman started from first position after Charles Leclerc, who qualified on pole, could not start because his car was not fixed in time after crashing in qualifying yesterday. Max held on to the lead at the start of the race and consequently the victory was his. Verstappen took his first victory in Monaco with nine seconds ahead of Carlos Sainz, who finished second. Lando Norris completed the podium. As Hamilton finished in seventh position, Max also takes the lead in the championship, for the first time in his Formula 1 career.

After the race, the overjoyed Max says: “It is so special to win around here. And also the first time on the podium here. It was an amazing race. It is a lot of laps around here, so you really have to keep your focus. But it is really cool. This is the Grand Prix you want to win, from when I was little. To also take the lead in the championship is a nice bonus.”

After the start Verstappen did not worry anymore: “You never know what is going to happen, but I have never felt pressured. It is all about looking after your tyres and finding the right gap to pit. The others went earlier, so that made it a bit easier. It was all pretty much under control.”

The Red Bull Racing mechanics did a lightning-fast pitstop of 2.0 seconds. According to Max this victory is a great reward for the team: “They were a bit nervous ahead of the race. I said to them: ‘Calm down, you know you are good. I know what to do in the car, you know how to do a pit stop, it is going to be alright’.”

Even though Max is leading the championship, the Dutch believes the team cannot take it easy: “I am very proud, but I am also thinking ahead. It is still a very long season. We have to make sure we are competitive every weekend, because Monaco can create a distorted picture. Mercedes will be strong as always on the normal circuits and we have to keep pushing. After the last two races this is a great way to continue.”

Just ahead of the 78-lap race on the Monte-Carlo circuit it is announced that the man on pole, Charles Leclerc, will not be able to race. The Monegasque took pole in his home race, even though he crashed in his final flying lap at the swimming pool chicane. A broken left driveshaft could not be fixed in time by the Ferrari mechanics, leaving pole position empty and Max had the front row of the grid for himself. 

Max kept the lead at the start. Behind him are Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz in second and third position. Lando Norris is in P4, behind him Pierre Gasly and Lewis Hamilton in P5 and P6. Everyone gets through the first lap unscathed.

Overtaking is as usual in Monaco virtually impossible, so the order stays unchanged in the beginning of the race. For the first twenty laps Bottas can keep up well with Verstappen, then he reports that his tyres run out and he loses time on Verstappen.

Hamilton is the first driver to make a pitstop in lap 30. He changes his soft tyres to a new set of the hard compound and comes back on track in eighth position. Teammate Bottas stops one lap later. The Mercedes mechanics cannot get the right front tyre off and the unfortunate Finn has to stop the race.

Verstappen comes into the pits in lap 35. He changes his soft tyres for a set of hard tyres in a lightning-fast 2.0 second pitstop, coming back on track behind his teammate Perez. The Mexican makes his pitstop one lap later, putting Max back in the lead. Behind him are Sainz and Norris in second and third position. By making his pitstop later, Perez overtakes three drivers. After his stop he is in front of Sebastian Vettel, Pierre Gasly and Lewis Hamilton.

In the lead there is not a worry in sight for Max. The gap to Sainz fluctuates between five and ten seconds. Behind him Perez is rapidly closing in on Norris in P3. Hamilton decides to come in again for another pitstop in lap 68, in an attempt to set the fastest lap.

Max wins the race triumphantly, almost nine seconds ahead of Sainz. With his second victory of the season Max also takes the lead in the championship, four points ahead of Hamilton. Sainz equals his best result in his Formula 1 career with a second place, while Norris takes his second podium of the season in P3. Sergio Perez finishes in fourth position and Vettel takes his first points of the season in an impressive fifth position. Pierre Gasly finishes in P6, with Hamilton in P7. The Brit also takes the point for the fastest lap. Lance Stroll, Esteban Ocon and Antonio Giovinazzi complete the top ten.

Results Grand Prix Monaco:

1Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda781:38:56.82025
2Carlos SainzSAIFerrari78+8.968s18
3Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes78+19.427s15
4Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda78+20.490s12
5Sebastian VettelVETAston Martin Mercedes78+52.591s10
6Pierre GaslyGASAlphaTauri Honda78+53.896s8
7Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes78+68.231s7
8Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes77+1 lap4
9Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault77+1 lap2
10Antonio GiovinazziGIOAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari77+1 lap1
11Kimi RäikkönenRAIAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari77+1 lap0
12Daniel RicciardoRICMcLaren Mercedes77+1 lap0
13Fernando AlonsoALOAlpine Renault77+1 lap0
14George RussellRUSWilliams Mercedes77+1 lap0
15Nicholas LatifiLATWilliams Mercedes77+1 lap0
16Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri Honda77+1 lap0
17Nikita MazepinMAZHaas Ferrari75+3 laps0
18Mick SchumacherMSCHaas Ferrari75+3 laps0
0Valtteri BottasBOTMercedes29DNF0
0Charles LeclercLECFerrari0DNS0