F1 2021 Monaco Grand Prix Preview: Who will master the streets of the Principality?

Whether you love or loathe it, the Monaco Grand Prix is an integral part of the racing calendar.

Round 5 of 23 in 2021 takes us the glorious streets of Monte Carlo for the most challenging race of the year. After clinching his third win of the season in Spain, Sir Lewis Hamilton comes to the Principality in the ascendency and 14 points ahead of Max Verstappen.

Monaco always has a surprise up its sleeve though, playing host to some of the most surprising Grands Prix ever. Here are all the talking points as Formula 1 heads to the Cote d’Azur.

Track Guide

Monaco is unlike any other circuit in Formula 1. If you were to suggest the Circuit de Monte Carlo to the FIA as a new circuit on the calendar, you’d be laughed out of the room.

Tight, twisty and bumpy, there’s no such thing as a moment’s rest in this near-two hour event. Even the straights aren’t straight and passing is nearly impossible. Strategy will play a key role, as overtaking is something you won’t see much on-track. Turns 1 and 10 are the only real passing spots.

Armco barriers line the perimeter of almost the entire track meaning that a mistake usually ends up with damage or a retirement.

Last time out

The 2021 Spanish Grand Prix saw a surprising amount of on-track action as we witnessed another classic Hamilton-Verstappen battle. Hamilton claimed his 100th pole in Formula 1 the previous day, but it was Max who went into Turn 1 in the lead.

Hamilton and Verstappen were a class above the chasing pack, even Valtteri Bottas was nowhere near challenging the leading pair. Ultimately, it was tyre strategy that decided the race, as Hamilton’s aggressive 2-stop proved to be faster than Verstappen’s 1-stopper.

Bottas completed the podium in third, to make HAM-VER-BOT the most common podium in F1 history. Charles Leclerc was arguably driver of the day as he earned a fourth place in his Ferrari. Sergio Perez could only recover to fifth after a poor qualifying.

Daniel Ricciardo finished a respectable sixth, with Carlos Sainz in seventh in his home race. Lando Norris had his worst result of the season so far in eighth, with Esteban Ocon again in the points in ninth. Pierre Gasly again dragged his AlphaTauri to another point with tenth.

Will Red Bull capitalise on Mercedes’ weaker circuit?

Red Bull most-recently won the Monaco GP in 2018. Image: The Telegraph

Despite what the results may show, Monaco is not a happy hunting ground for Mercedes nor Hamilton. Mercedes may have won the most recent race in 2019, but slower street circuits don’t usually suit the long wheelbase Merc. In seasons gone by, Mercedes’ advantage over the chasing pack has been so large that they could still win Monaco.

However, this year the Silver Arrows don’t have that luxury. Red Bull are closer than they’ve ever been in the hybrid era before.

Verstappen has been electric off the start at most races and if he repeats the feat on Sunday, he’ll be a very hard man to catch. Perez can’t be underestimated either, as the Mexican has stood on the podium in Monaco once before, in 2016.

Hamilton has three wins to his name in Monaco. This is of course an impressive statistic, but it pales in comparison to his record at most other circuits.

Ultimately, barring unreliability or being held up by a backmarker, whoever makes it into Turn 1 first will more than likely win the Grand Prix.

Session Times

Practice 1: 20 May               10:30-11:30 (5:30-6:30 AM EST)

Practice 2: 20 May               14:00-15:00 (9:00-10:00 AM EST)

Practice 3: 22 May               11:00-12:00 (6:00-7:00 AM EST)

Qualifying: 22 May               14:00-15:00 (9:00-10:00 AM EST)

Race: 23 May              14:00 (9:00 EST)

All times are in British Standard Time (BST), unless stated otherwise.

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more content to preview your Monaco GP weekend? Never fear, the Grid Talk crew are here and have you covered with their 2021 Monaco Grand Prixview. Ruby Price hosted Phil Mathew, Adam Burns and Mikael Kataja covered all of the main talking about points ahead of Round 5 of the 2021 Formula 1 season. Audio and video versions of the show are linked below:

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