While this year’s Monaco Grand Prix won’t go down as a classic by any means, it could end up being a hugely significant day in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. 

Max Verstappen took a dominant first career victory around the streets of Monte Carlo as he snatched the championship lead away from Lewis Hamilton on what proved to be a disastrous afternoon for Mercedes. 

While some drivers and teams will leave Monaco satisfied with their efforts and respective strategy gambles, others will be left wondering what could have been…

Winners 

Max Verstappen 

An exemplary performance from Verstappen to notch up his first ever win (and podium) in Monaco. 

Verstappen may have been cursing his luck on Saturday after being forced to abandon his best lap in qualifying due to the red flags caused by Charles Leclerc’s crashing Ferrari, but things swung back into the Dutchman’s favour on race day. 

With Leclerc unable to take the start due to his pre-race drama, Verstappen effectively moved onto pole position and crucially was able to cover off Valtteri Bottas to maintain his lead into Sainte Devote. 

From there, Verstappen was in complete control as he flawlessly and convincingly claimed his second victory of the season to move into the championship lead for first time in his career. 

Carlos Sainz 

Carlos Sainz turned his frustrations in qualifying - where he felt he had the pace to challenge for pole but ended up fourth - into a first podium for Ferrari with a brilliant drive on Sunday. 

The Spaniard immediately moved into third due to Leclerc’s DNS and inherited second when Bottas suffered his calamitous pit stop, which he held onto until the finish. 

Sainz demonstrated impressive pace throughout to underline the fact that Ferrari could have won the race had Leclerc started from pole, with the sole-running Ferrari finishing just under nine seconds behind race-winner Verstappen. 

He continues to impress the most out of the drivers to have switched teams over the winter. 

Lando Norris 

Lando Norris joined his former McLaren teammate Sainz on the podium with his third P3 finish of his career and his second rostrum appearance of 2021. 

Norris also profited from the demise of Leclerc and Bottas but put himself in a position to capitalise thanks to an excellent qualifying lap that was just over two tenths off pole. 

Despite McLaren’s low-key expectations in Monaco, Norris was able to continue his outstanding start to the season with a result that sees him jump ahead of Bottas into third place in the championship. 

Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin 

It has been a difficult start to life at Aston Martin for Sebastian Vettel, but things turned around in Monaco with the four-time world champion getting off the mark in fine style. 

Vettel converted eighth on the grid into a strong fifth, but the result largely came thanks to a brilliant strategy call from Aston Martin that enabled him to successfully overcut Lewis Hamilton and Pierre Gasly

Lance Stroll rounded off Aston Martin’s best day yet in 2021 as both its cars scored points, a result which lifts the Silverstone-based squad up to fifth in the constructors’.

Sergio Perez 

Sergio Perez, who started a net eighth due to Leclerc’s absence following another sub-par qualifying performance, turned in a strong drive on Sunday and ended up being the biggest winner of the pit stop phase. 

Red Bull’s decision to leave Perez out in clean air paid off handsomely, as the Mexican extracted the pace he needed to jump the Vettel-Gasly-Hamilton train when he emerged from his pit stop on Lap 35. 

Perez quickly reeled in Norris but ultimately had to settle with fourth, finishing just a second away from his first podium for Red Bull. 

Losers 

Charles Leclerc 


You’ve got to feel for Charles Leclerc. If he didn’t have bad luck at his home race, he’d have none at all. 

A sensational lap in qualifying earned him a shock pole for Ferrari, but he could not make the start after encountering a problem with his driveshaft on his way to the grid. 

That spelled a heartbreaking DNS for Leclerc, who has failed to finish a race around his hometown streets since graduating to F1, and ended his hopes of a long-awaited return to winning ways for Ferrari. 

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton 

Almost everything that could have gone wrong for Mercedes did in Monaco. 

A poor qualifying left Lewis Hamilton on the back foot with a mountain to climb if he was to keep his championship lead intact starting from seventh on the grid. 

Mercedes’ decision to pit Hamilton early backfired and left him frustrated with his team’s strategy call that ultimately saw him lose two spots during the pit stop window. 

A disgruntled Hamilton eventually finished seventh, while Bottas’ retirement compounded a disastrous day in which the reigning world champions lost the lead in both world championships for the first time in the V6 hybrid era. 

Alpine 

Alpine had high hopes of challenging Ferrari to be best of the rest in Monaco but the weekend ultimately ended up exposing weaknesses of the team’s 2021 F1 car. 

A battling drive from Esteban Ocon brought the team a small reward with two points in ninth, but it was a poor weekend all round for the French outfit. 

Fernando Alonso labelled his first Monaco GP since 2018 “boring” as he struggled home in 13th, rounding out a difficult weekend for Alpine as it lost ground to its midfield rivals. 

Daniel Ricciardo 

Daniel Ricciardo’s struggles to get up to speed at McLaren continued in Monaco with a horror weekend. 

The Australian was dumped out of qualifying in Q2 while teammate Norris went on to take fifth, leaving Ricciardo facing the prospect of a long and point-less race. 

That is exactly how it turned out, with Ricciardo eventually finishing 12th having been stuck behind Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen all race.

Getting lapped by a podium-bound Norris only added salt to the wounds for Ricciardo. 

Yuki Tsunoda 

F1 rookie Yuki Tsunoda’s starring debut in Bahrain seems like a lifetime ago after the Japanese youngster suffered his fourth disappointing race on the trot. 

The AlphaTauri driver was dumped out in Q1 for the second successive round and his weekend was effectively ruined from that point onwards. 

Tsunoda failed to progress from 16th as he finished behind both Williams and a lap down on teammate Pierre Gasly, who was sixth.