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Monaco GP: Max Verstappen takes win and title lead as Mercedes suffer, with Lewis Hamilton seventh

 

Max Verstappen claimed a momentous Monaco GP victory on a day filled with drama in Monte Carlo, as Mercedes endured a disastrous race with Valtteri Bottas retiring and Lewis Hamilton a lowly seventh.

On a glorious afternoon for Red Bull and their star driver, Verstappen inherited pole position after Charles Leclerc was cruelly forced out of his home race before even lining up on the grid – and the Dutchman then masterfully controlled proceedings to take his maiden win around the legendary streets.

In doing so, Verstappen and Red Bull have taken the lead in both F1 2021 championships; Verstappen – now four points clear of Hamilton – for the first time in his career, and Red Bull for the first time since 2013.

“It’s so special around here to win,” said a delighted Verstappen. “You always want to win this Grand Prix.”

Mercedes’ Monaco GP spiralled out of control due to a nightmare couple of laps.

A frustrated Hamilton finished seventh, losing positions to midfield cars through an ill-timed pit-stop from Mercedes before Bottas’ race was ended altogether in the pits.

Bottas was running second behind Verstappen at the time of his stop but, in incredible scenes, Mercedes failed to get his right front tyre off for the change.

That allowed Carlos Sainz to swoop in for second place, a brilliant equal career-best achievement for the Spanish driver and some solace for Ferrari after Leclerc’s earlier pre-race retirement.

Leclerc, who crashed heavily at the end of qualifying, was due to start on pole but reported an issue on his first laps out of the pits before the race, and Ferrari couldn’t fix the diagnosed driveshaft problem before lights out.

Lando Norris completed the podium for McLaren, just holding off a charging Sergio Perez.

Perez was one of the drivers who benefited from Hamilton’s early stop, staying out longer to gain time on Mercedes.

Sebastian Vettel also profited, scoring his first points of the season with Aston Martin in a superb fifth, while Pierre Gasly was sixth ahead of Hamilton, keeping the Mercedes behind for all 78 engrossing laps.

Hamilton scored a bonus point for fastest lap but in truth that was the only positive for Mercedes, whose bid to seal an eighth consecutive clean sweep of F1’s titles took a hit at 2021’s fifth round.

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