Max Verstappen led the Monaco Grand Prix from start to finish. It was never going to be a race full of overtakes, but just watching the cars fly through the streets of Monte Carlo is a spectacle on its own.
Verstappen put in all the hard work on Saturday afternoon as he maximized every inch of the circuit to put his Red Bull in pole position by just 0.084 seconds ahead of Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin. That final sector from Max was very Senna-esque as he scraped the barriers with robot-like precision.
Despite some rain showers late into the Grand Prix, no one could stop Verstappen as he powered to a 27.9 second victory over Alonso. Esteban Ocon managed to survive the onslaught from Mercedes and hold on to secure a brilliant third place.
The Mercs brought their cars home in fourth and fifth place despite some sketchy moments throughout the race. Charles Leclerc finally finished his home race for the first time in Formula 1, even though it was just sixth.
Are Other Teams Catching Up?
It might seem like Red Bull are still charging ahead of the pack, but there are some signs of other teams catching up to them.
Mercedes have dropped their zero-pod concept — they turned up to the Monaco Grand Prix with brand new sidepods.
Overall the pace seemed to improve at Mercedes, specifically in the race where they managed to fight for the podium. If there had been more overtaking opportunities, we could well have seen one of them on the podium.
Lewis Hamilton also said that the car feels much more stable following the upgrades, and he’s feeling much more comfortable in the car.
We’ll have to wait and see how they perform at the Spanish Grand Prix, but overall it’s a positive step in the right direction.
De Vries Under Pressure
Nyck De Vries was one of the most anticipated rookies coming into the 2023 Formula 1 season. However, he’s had a terrible run of form in the first couple of rounds.
This has put him under immense pressure as his teammate Yuki Tsunoda continues to outperform him. As we know, Red Bull are cut-throat when it comes to their drivers — if you don’t perform, you’re out.
In the lead up to the (canceled) Imola Grand Prix, Daniel Ricciardo was spotted at the Alpha Tauri factory in Faenza doing seat fittings. This fueled the rumors that De Vries’ seat was under threat.
While Ricciardo could be used to see out the rest of the season in an Alpha Tauri, it could also be that they are planning on using him for a Friday practice session in the near future.
Remember, all teams must give at least two Free Practice sessions to a driver that has not yet completed two Grand Prix.
The other likely candidate to replace De Vries at Alpha Tauri is Liam Lawson. The New Zealander has been incredibly impressive in the Japanese Super Formula series, which could pave his way into an early F1 seat in the near future.
Barcelona is the Ultimate Proving Ground
Barcelona is always a great track for Formula 1. It’s very balanced, with a good mix of medium and high speed corners, and an incredible main straight that is great for overtaking.
This year though, there’s a twist. The final sector has been changed back to the previous layout. That means we lose the clunky chicane that always breaks the speed and momentum of the cars.
Instead, the cars will come flying down the hill into a fast right hander before launching down the straight. It’s a layout that hasn’t been used since 2006, and everyone is incredibly excited to have it back.
If any of the teams’ upgrades have closed the gap to Red Bull, the Spanish Grand Prix is where we’ll see the true results.