Motorsport

Max Verstappen takes the championship lead

Max Verstappen receives the winner’s trophy from Prince Albert II of Monaco.   | Photo Credit: SEBASTIEN NOGIER

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

The 23-year-old Dutch driver started the day 14 points behind Mercedes’ seven times World champion Lewis Hamilton and ended it four clear. Hamilton finished seventh, with an extra point for the fastest lap.

Amazing race

“It’s so special around here to win and, also for me, the first time on the podium here. An amazing race,” said Verstappen, who had everything under control from start to finish for his second win of the season.

“You always want to win this grand prix. I remember when I was very little, already watching this grand prix, so standing here I’m very proud.”

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz finished second after teammate Charles Leclerc, who had secured pole position after crashing in qualifying, was ruled out before the start with a drive-shaft problem.

The podium was the Spaniard’s first since he joined Ferrari this year.

Britain’s Lando Norris, Sainz’s team mate last year at McLaren, held off Red Bull’s Sergio Perez to complete the top three.

He now has 105 points to Hamilton’s 101, with Norris moving up to third on 56.

Red Bull goes top

As Red Bull celebrated a breakthrough weekend, going top of the constructors’ standings by a single point, champions Mercedes dropped the ball.

Hamilton fumed after an early pitstop strategy backfired while Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas retired from second place when mechanics were unable to remove the right front wheel.

“I don’t understand guys. I saved the tyres to go longer and you made me stop before,” said Hamilton over the team radio.

Unfortunate

Earlier, Leclerc’s Monaco jinx struck again as the Ferrari’s pole-sitter retired from his home race before the start.

The driveshaft problem was unexpected, raising questions of how Ferrari had failed to detect it earlier and whether they had taken a gamble to protect pole.

Leclerc has yet to finish a home GP, with the showcase harbour-side race not held last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He retired after collisions in 2018 and 2019.

The results: 1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull), 1:38:56.820, 2. Carlos Sainz Jr (Ferrari) +8.968s, 3. Lando Norris (McLaren) +19.427, 4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +20.490, 5. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +52.591, 6. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +53.896, 7. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +1:08.231; 1 lap: 8. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), 9. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) 10. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), 11. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo), 12. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren), 13. Fernando Alonso (Alpine), 14. George Russell (Williams), 15. Nicholas Latifi (Williams), 16. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri); 3 laps: 17. Nikita Mazepin (Haas), 18. Mick Schumacher (Haas); DNF: 19. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes); DNS: 20. (1) Charles Leclerc (Ferrari).

Standings (Top-5): Drivers: 1. Verstappen 105 pts, 2. Hamilton 101, 3. Norris 56, 4. Bottas 47, 5. Perez 44. Constructors: 1. Red Bull 149 pts, 2. Mercedes 148, 3. McLaren 80, 4. Ferrari 78, 5. Aston Martin19.


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Printable version | Aug 4, 2021 6:42:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/motorsport/max-verstappen-takes-the-championship-lead/article34628916.ece

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