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MONACO GRAND PRIX: ‘MAX’IMUM PERFORMANCE

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won F1’s showcase Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday to lead the world championship for the first time in his career.

Max Verstappen Monaco
Max Verstappen started the day 14 points behind Mercedes’ seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and ended it four clear. (Credit: @F1)

As the drivers went around on their warm-up laps, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc suddenly halted on the track. A left driveshaft had encountered some problems that engineers would not be able to fix in time and that news sent Ferrari fans into dismay and disbelief as the local hero was about to make history after achieving pole position in the drama-filled qualifying session where he suffered a crash at the swimming pool section of the circuit. The crash though concludes the qualifying race and cemented CL16’s first pole position in Monaco.

In pole position, Max Verstappen brilliantly impeded Valterri Bottas when the lights turned green. Ferocious, unrelenting and sometimes rogue are some of the attributes in Verstappen. He is arguably the most exciting driver to watch. Consistency, controlled-aggression were things to learn from this young driver who for the first time in his career is on the top of the World Championship table.

READ: WHY MONACO GP IS THE BEST RACE OF THE YEAR

Bottas was looking good on pace and untroubled in his silver arrow until a deplorable pit stop gets him out of the race. It was really a bummer for the Finnish racer as the team was unable to get the front-right tire off his car. Despite the Mercedes pit crew’s best efforts, the malfunction caused the team to tell Bottas to turn off his car and quit the race. Mercedes confirmed that “the wheel nut machined onto the axle and couldn’t be removed” at the pit stop.

“I’m very disappointed, to be honest,” said Carlos Sainz after his team-mate Leclerc suffered the crash.. “It is a difficult thing to accept, to digest. It’s not like every day of your life you have the opportunity to put it on a pole in Monaco because today I definitely had the pace to do so, but due to the circumstances, I didn’t. it’s a very frustrating day for me.”

Despite his disappointment, the Spaniard spared no chance to capitalise on the retirement of Bottas and cohere in second position through the course of the race and brought his first podium with his new team.

Bottas’ retirement meant the fiery Briton Lando Norris moved to third place. He did struggle with the tire life in the cessation which gave enough to Sergio Perez to strife the McLaren with some austere driving skills. An immaculate pit stop strategy allowed Perez to reach P4 and helped Red Bull gain some vital points for the constructive championship.

Once again mid-field battles stole the show and we saw one-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, surmounting his way to finish P5. By staying out longer and over-cutting Alpha Tauri and  Mercedes, the Aston Martin driver gained two positions. Vettel was snug as a bug in a rug throughout the whole race and brough points for his team, the very first time with Aston Martin.

It was not a good day in the office for Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton struggled to get past Pierre Gasly and trailed behind the Alpha Tauri through the whole race. The world champion did not benefit from being the first to stop as Gasly was able to stay ahead when he came in one lap after Hamilton.

Lance Stroll was scrutinised for perhaps breaching the pit exit line as he rejoined after his stop, but no action was taken by the stewards, and he finished eighth without incident. As the Alpine and Alfa Romeo drivers rounded out the top 10, Esteban Ocon held off late pressure from Antonio Giovinazzi while Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo ended up behind them and Fernando Alonso finishing 13th. The remaining finishers were Williams’ George Russell and Nicholas Latifi, Yuki Tsunoda, and the Haas duo Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher behind.

The top four contenders for the world championship look exciting with Verstappen leading with 105 points, Hamilton close behind with 101, followed by Norris 56 and Bottas 47.

The Race is on right now for the driver and constructive championship and all eyes are now on the BAKU after two weeks where we will see how things will change from here. In present-day Monaco, Red Bull is certainly flying with wings.

Written by Vishal Varun

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