Verstappen reached a “different level of maturity”
Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko believes that Max Verstappen has reached a “different level of maturity” following his victory in the Monaco Grand Prix. The Dutchman took a lights to flag victory securing his second win of the season, and Sir Lewis Hamilton’s and Mercedes poor weekend allowing him to lead the championship for the first time in his career.
After fending off Valtteri Bottas at the first corner, Verstappen rarely looked at risk of coming under pressure at the front of the race, crossing the line 8.9 seconds clear of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. The way Verstappen won the race has earned him praise from Marko, pointing out his maturity and composure in the way he managed the race.
Marko told Sky Germany, “He has certainly reached a different level of maturity. We kept him on his toes with fuel modes and such. He had to understand quite a lot. When he started asking who had the fastest lap and with what time, we immediately blocked him and told him: ‘Forget all that!’”
Red Bull were quick to instruct Verstappen not to go after fastest lap, believing the time was not achievable. But it did not stop Hamilton from losing the lead of the championship, slipping four points behind Verstappen.
Taking top spot in the standings capped off a big day of firsts for Verstappen, who put to an end a difficult record in Monaco with a win that also marked his first podium in the principality.
Verstappen has had a shaky record in Monaco, he crashed in FP3 and missed qualifying in 2018. In the two of the three years prior to that Verstappen had retired from the race and not finished higher than fourth.
Asked what a victory in Monaco meant for Verstappen’s CV, Marko felt it would act as another boost, particularly due to the fashion of his performance. He said “ “We haven’t had a podium here yet [with Max], although we’ve had a car that can win twice – Ricciardo proved that, after all.
“I think that gives him another boost of relief. It should make his performances even more confident and controlled.”
Hamilton “not the most stressed” following Monaco
Sir Lewis Hamilton says he is “not the most stressed” about Mercedes’ difficult Monaco Grand Prix, feeling thankful for “crappy days” that the team can learn from. The seven-time champion lost the lead of the driver’s championship for the first time since July 2018, dropping four points behind Red Bull rival Max Verstappen.
Hamilton couldn’t fight with Red Bull and Ferrari only managing seventh in qualifying, before an undercut gamble backfired costing him two positions, much to his frustration. But Hamilton said in the aftermath of the race that he didn’t “really feel any pain” over the result and that he was “not dwelling on it”, taking heart in the knowledge that Mercedes will learn from the defeat.
He told Motorsport.com, “There’s a lot that we could have done better in terms of how we prepared going into the weekend. We’ve had some good conversations through the weekend. But it’s not good enough from all of us. We win and we lose as a team, and it’s collectively not a good job from all of us, across the board.
“We don’t take it lightly. But there’s no point getting all depressed. We’ve got to start looking at the data and figuring out why we’re in this position.” Hamilton said also says the team naturally wants answers to make sure races like this don’t happen again, pointing out that the team has repeatedly shown it can bounce back from difficult weekends.
Hamilton was the only Mercedes driver to finish the race after Valtteri Bottas retired due to a wheel nut issue, meaning the team also lost the lead of the constructors’ championship. Part of the team’s success has been the ‘no blame culture’ Mercedes has and he said the team has always operated with a no-blame culture through much of its recent F1 success,
Hamilton added, “We all take everything on board and it is constructive discussions and if there is any constructive criticism we take it on board and we huddle up, do the work, we get on a call.”
“There won’t be silence between now and the next race, we will have a great couple of meetings, just so we are clear on what happened and where we went and what things we might want to learn from.
Ferrari’s highs and lows in Monaco
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has praised the way that Charles Leclerc stayed at the Monaco Grand Prix and then cheered on Carlos Sainz’s podium finish. Leclerc had a very difficult weekend at his home Grand Prix when his accident in qualifying lead to a driveshaft failure meaning he could not start from pole.
rather than use the difficult situation as an excuse to leave early, Leclerc stayed with Ferrari to watch the race, and even joined the outfit at the podium to help celebrate teammate Sainz’s runner-up spot behind Max Verstappen. Binotto says that Leclerc’s behaviour was significant in showing how strong the team spirit was in Maranello after a difficult 2020 campaign.
He told Motorsport.com “I think very positive is Charles being under the podium. I think it was him showing that he was there to celebrate with Carlos and celebrating with the team as well.
“I think that’s very positive because he’s showing the team spirit we’ve got at the moment. We all believe in our project, and we are all convinced that in the future we will become stronger and stronger.”
He says that the positives from the weekend including the car performing well showing the team are developing in the right direction. Sainz scoring his first podium for Ferrari, his first proper on the road finish in third , and only his second in F1 after being classified third in the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix when Lewis Hamilton was handed a post-race penalty.
Willing to change Monaco layout – Brawn
Formula One motorsport managing director Ross Brawn says that they are willing to change the layout in Monte Carlo if there is a chance to improve overtaking. Sunday’s Grand Prix only saw one on-track overtake on the first lap when Mick Schumacher barged past Haas teammate Nikita Mazepin at the Fairmont Hairpin on the opening lap.
All other position changes during the race were either a result of pit stop strategy or retirements. The street circuit has hosted increasingly processional races in recent years as F1 cars have become wider and faster, making overtaking difficult on such narrow streets.
Since it was first built there has been only minor changes mainly through the harbourside sections and the Swimming Pool section was modified for safety reasons in 2003. Brawn said his team of circuit designers would look into possible changes for future events to improve overtaking.
Writing in his blog on F1.com, he said, “We’ll take a look. But it won’t be the first time someone has taken a look at doing something like that and no one has come up with a solution so far. But we do have tools now. We have built our overtaking simulation tool and we will certainly have our people take a look at it, but it’s pretty challenging.”
“People often say why don’t you change the tyre strategy, or things like that, but the teams adapt. They just find tactics to overcome it, so I don’t think tyres or strategy is going to make a lot of difference. We’ve got new cars [as a result of a new set of regulations] next year, so it will be interesting to see what evolves with that.”
However changing the layout in the second smallest state in the world won’t be easy. Brawn ruled out using things line ‘attack zone’ in Formula E, adding “You need to avoid the trickery, like having bits that you have to go on several times a race. There is some racing where you have to divert and go through an overtaking lane, I don’t think we should do any of that type of thing.”
Asked if a dull race each year at F1’s flagship event was damaging for the sport, Brawn replied: “No. The thing this demonstrates is how you can build a huge spectacle around the race. It’s a different sort of racing and I don’t think variety is a problem.”
Alonso tips Russell for great things again
Fernando Alonso has tipped George Russell to be a future world champion despite the British driver yet to score a podium. The two-times world champion swapped helmets with the Willems driver with the message “George, you rock!! Future World Champ.”
In return, Russell gave the double-Monaco Grand Prix winner a red-and-blue Williams helmet of his own, after Williams completed their 750th Grand Prix in Monte Carlo. It is not the first time the Spaniard has said he has been impressed by the Englishman.
Last year he told Sky Sports, “George Russell is the one that surprises me every weekend. How he’s driving the Williams and zero mistakes and I’m really surprised about his natural speed. So if I have to say one name, Russell, for the future, is going to be my pick.”
Russell was clearly thrilled with the helmet and the message, posting the image on Twitter with the caption: “This one means a lot. Gracias, legend”.
Mazepin gave more room in Monaco
Nikita Mazepin says he gave more room to his Haas teammate Mick Schumacher in Monaco Grand Prix because he didn’t want to be responsible for taking both cars out of the race.
On the first lap, Schumacher went down the inside of the Russian at the hairpin. The two drivers went round the corner side-by-side before the German emerged in front. Later in the race the German developed a fuel pressure problem, with the duo finishing in there normal seventeen and eighteen.
Asked about the first lap by Motorsport.com, Mazepin said, “Yeah, it was very tight. It was one of those corners where it’s even too slow for F1, you need to pull the clutch in, so you don’t drive into a car in front.”
“: just got bunched up, and I had to stay where I was. And I felt that if you’re fighting for P19 or for P18, and there was a big risk of leaving both cars for the rest of the race there, and I just didn’t want to go to the garage and being responsible for it. So I wanted to race fair, and the race was long.”
Mazepin said that his teammate also played fair when he had the technical issue. Adding “There was no confusion. I think, you know, that’s how life plays sometimes. I was very fair in the first lap. He was very fair later on. And I think we have a good relationship in the team, and we should keep it that way.”
Mazepin says he was very happy with his weekend following the hard work done by the team in understanding the car and that would be ultimately the success route to ’22.”
He added: “A very positive day. Obviously see we need to find a lot as a team. I never had so many blue flags in my life. And that’s pretty sad. But I think we’ll get there.” Mazepin believes that the Haas could be more competitive at low downforce Baku.