Formula One (F1) returns to the showpiece Monaco Grand Prix this year. After four rounds of racing, Mercedes lead the constructor standings. But Red Bull are not too far behind and it is entirely possible that the slow corners of the street circuit in Monte Carlo could work to their advantage.
Lewis Hamilton last won there in 2019 from pole position and his ongoing duel with Max Verstappen will again be something to watch out for. A recap of the season till now: Hamilton has so far won three races. But Verstappen, 23, has ended up on the podium all four times alongside the 36-year-old British driver. This includes an action-packed win at Imola last month. Hamilton, who will be targeting his 99th win on Sunday, leads the Dutchman by 14 points in the drivers championship.
The circuit at Monte Carlo has a total lap distance of 3.337km and this will be a 78-lap race. In fact, Verstappen holds the current race lap record: one minute 14.260 seconds, which he had set in 2018.
Meanwhile, both the Williams cars will carry the names of 100 fans as the team celebrates 750 races in F1. Also keep an eye out for McLaren—the team will run a one-off, special livery for the Monaco Grand Prix, based on the blue and orange colours of Gulf Oil.
That’s not all. Ferrari’s Monégasque driver, Charles Leclerc, will be hoping he can make an impact in his home race. The 23-year-old has yet to finish an F1 race in Monaco. But in an encouraging sign, he set the fastest time in the second free practice on Thursday, ahead of his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz, after trailing in last in the morning session.
"It's looking good, but for now it's looking a bit too good to believe it," said Leclerc in a Reuters report. If Leclerc does indeed turn these positive practice sessions into a result on Sunday, he can become the first Monegasque to score points at home since Louis Chiron finished third in 1950.
The final race of the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix starts at 6.30pm on 23 May.