Red Bull could finally be vulnerable as the pace comes off in Monte Carlo

Max Verstappen enjoys the glamour of Monte Carlo

Max Verstappen enjoys the glamour of Monte Carlo (Picture: Getty)

Miami might take the spoils these days when it comes to celebrity guests and conspicuous consumption, but Monaco remains the most glamorous grand prix on the calendar.

First held in 1929, the circuit’s layout has barely changed in all this time. It is truly evocative, yet not geared towards modern racing cars; the narrow streets and short straights are almost impossible for overtaking. Monaco can be a procession but wet weather may spice things up.

This track is an outlier, with an average speed of just 105mph and only 43 per cent of the lap at full-throttle.

Aerodynamics are less important, which means teams like Williams and McLaren should be able to get closer to the slippery Red Bulls. Brave and precise drivers can make the difference here more than pure horsepower.

The last time a Monegasque won their home race was 1931, with Louis Chiron driving for Bugatti. His countryman Charles Leclerc has so far suffered something of a curse in the Principality, his failure to win due to a mix of accidents and strategy blunders.

He’s been on pole for the past two Monaco GPs but has failed to convert. Third time could be a charm, though.

Pole here is more important than at any other race. Red Bull’s car is set up more towards race pace than qualifying speed. Ferrari could have the edge on Saturday, and if Charles can get through the first corner first he may have his best chance of victory.

Red Bull won in Monaco with Max Verstappen in 2021 and Sergio Perez in 2022, but nonetheless they will have a reduced advantage in Leclerc’s manor. ‘We will struggle a bit to show our strengths,’ admits Perez.

Aston Martin and Mercedes will both be trying to dethrone the Red Bull duo too. Hamilton took the spoils here in 2008, 2016 and 2019, while Fernando Alonso did so during his title-winning 2005 and 2006 seasons.

‘Ferrari was outstanding in Baku – we could see another great weekend for them here,’ says the Spaniard.

‘But if I tell you I don’t come here thinking I can win, I would lie to you. Because this is a one-off opportunity. I will attack more than any other week.’

Aston boss Mike Krack has high hopes. ‘It would be nice to do it [and win],’ says the engineer. ‘We have great hopes in Monaco. We have a great car. Twelve months ago, we would not speak about winning in Monaco. So, I think we need never forget where we’ve come from and keep our heads down and work hard.’

Charles Leclerc could finally win on his home circuit in Monaco (Picture: Getty)

Aston Martin, who are using Mercedes customer engines, will switch to Honda power in 2026. Red Bull – dominating this year with Honda power just as they did in 2022 – will switch to …read more

Source:: Metro


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