So once again we arrive here in the Principality for Formula One’s jewel event – Monaco Grand Prix.
With big celebrities, the super yachts and of course closed roads, we were all expecting one thing – a train.
However there was sad news hanging over the weekend after the death of three-time World Champion – Niki Lauda on Monday cast a sad feeling across the paddock.
Each team paid tribute to the late Austrian in their own special way from Mercedes running a red halo to Vettel sporting Lauda’s helmet design and more.
Race Results: Lewis Hamilton – 1st, Valtteri Bottas – 3rd
As a fan, I’m super happy that Mercedes failed to come away with maximum points after an unsafe release by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen cost Bottas second place after the Finn had to pit again in fear of a puncture.
That incident left Bottas fourth for rest of race and inherited third thanks to Verstappen receiving a five second time penalty for his unsafe release.
As for Hamilton, he produced a classic driver that was very reminiscent of Ayrton Senna fending off Nigel Mansell in 1992.
But as Senna did all those years ago, he parked the car just right and kept him behind to win the race.
Race Results: Sebastian Vettel – 2nd, Charles Leclerc – DNFEmbed from Getty Images
This weekend has been possibly Ferrari’s toughest weekend of the season so far after braking issues during Thursday practice, before Vettel put his car into the barrier at St Devote during FP3.
Leclerc meanwhile topped that session but it was downhill from there onwards after a strategic error cost the Monegasque a second run in Q1, ultimately putting him out of the session in P16.
Sunday therefore looked set to be better after a great start saw him make up a few places, including a brilliant overtake at Rascasse on Haas’ Romain Grosjean.
A second attempt at that move but on Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg however backfired after clipping the barrier to trigger a slow right rear puncture, which ultimately brought out the safety car so marshals could clear the shredded tyre rubber.
That incident also damaged the floor beyond repair and after trailing around at the back for a few laps, Leclerc retired from the race.
Vettel on the other hand benefitted from Bottas and Verstappen’s pit lane incident to occupy third for majority of race, ultimately splitting the two Silver Arrows in P2 after Verstappen’s five second penalty was applied.
Overall another disappointing race for the Scuderia with no real showing of a challenge to the reigning champions.
Race Results: Max Verstappen – 4th, Pierre Gasly – 5thEmbed from Getty Images
A promising weekend ended in disappointment for Red Bull who will nevertheless be happy with 23 valuable championship points.
Verstappen produced a brilliant start to challenge Bottas into St Devote but their pit lane incident dashed his hopes of a podium because it is very hard to pass around these streets.
The Dutchman however played his part brilliantly in the most entertaining battle of this season so far.
Gasly meanwhile had a strong qualifying so its a shame that he picked up a three place grid penalty for impeding Romain Grosjean during Q2.
He however enjoyed a brilliantly calculated drive to fifth and snatched a valuable point for fastest lap to highlight how strong the Red Bulls are in race trim.
If can continue to make less mistakes than Ferrari and Gasly begins to match Verstappen then there is no reason why Red Bull cannot finish second this season.
Race Results: Carlos Sainz – 6th, Lando Norris – 11th
What a race for Sainz!
An outstanding start from the Spaniard saw him gain three positions at the start from ninth to sixth by the time he reached Casino Square.
A strong strategic drive from there on in eventually was enough to see off the threats from both Toro Rosso cars and cling onto eight precious points.
Norris meanwhile will be disappointed to finish outside the points after initially losing positions at the start
He however did push Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo for the final point and improved on where he started the race, although this is a forgettable weekend for the young Brit.
Race Results: Daniil Kyvat – 7th, Alexander Albon – 8th
What a weekend for Toro Rosso who displayed strong pace throughout this weekend to secure a double points finish.
Qualifying was just brilliant for the team with both cars into Q3 although they will be disappointed by how they managed to allow Sainz past at the start.
We however cannot fault the team’s overall performance throughout the entire weekend, which was their best in a while.
Albon however was the more impressive in showing that he knew the track very well from his F2 races around here, and taking that to his advantage.
No doubt this result will help them in the midfield battle and could be decisive as to where they finish come Abu Dhabi.
Race Results: Daniel Ricciardo – 9th, Nico Hulkenberg – 13thEmbed from Getty Images
Nothing really special to say about Renault for me as they had a very quiet race although their qualifying pace is definitely improving
Happily, Daniel did score two points due to Grosjean picking up a late penalty but needs to improve his start after a poor getaway which cost him a higher points finish.
All in all, a decent result from such a demanding circuit because they would of finished higher on a normal circuit.
Race Results: Romain Grosjean – 10th, Kevin Magnussen – 14thEmbed from Getty Images
Not a great weekend for the American outfit as both cars struggled for pace although Magnussen did well to qualify in P5.
Grosjean however executed a brilliant race strategy to snatch the final point at his teammate’s expense despite suffering a five second penalty for a late incident.
I do therefore wonder if they can resolve their race pace issue because they could easily be fighting McLaren and Racing Point for fourth.
Race Results: Sergio Perez – 12th, Lance Stroll – 16th
A rather frustrating weekend for the Pink cars.
Stroll in particular had a poor weekend after blocking Grosjean in qualifying before causing a nuisance when frontrunners tried to lap him during the race.
The icing on the cake has to be his fumble with Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen at the Lowes hairpin which underlines how diabolical his weekend has been.
Perez meanwhile didn’t enjoy better luck especially after narrowly avoiding two marshals when exiting the pits, but a 12th placed finish is a decent result to what was a tough race
The end result is a forgettable but frustrating weekend for the team which Team Principal, Otmar Szafnauer will take “on the chin and learn what we can in order to come back stronger in Montreal.”
Race Results: George Russell – 15th, Robert Kubica – 18th
The biggest surprise this weekend is the fact that Williams didn’t finish last!
Russell matched his season best 15th placed finishes from Bahrain and Baku whilst Kubica finished in between the two Alfa Romeos.
Russell’s race in fact was fairly quiet apart from getting caught up in a car park incident at Rascasse, which didn’t stop him from pushing himself throughout the race despite the car’s poor ability.
Finishing 15th and 18th however is the best results bar retirements I think well see all season which is pretty sad to say.
Race Results: Kimi Raikkonen – 17th, Antonio Giovinazzi – 19thEmbed from Getty Images
So lastly we have the Alfa Romeos who were celebrating Raikkonen’s 300th race weekend (despite him not being bothered).
Free practice offered promises of a solid weekend but the car just didn’t have the pace come qualifying nor the race itself.
Aside that the pair were largely at the back the whole race so hopefully we will see a better performance from them in Canada next time out.
In saying that I want to end with a question.
Should Monaco be dropped?
With narrow streets and every race providing a train than a race, it is becoming hard to justify its place on the calendar over likes of Great Britain, Spain and Mexico unless the circuit layout is changed.
Personally I think it has to go or maybe have a knockout style race like football does with major cup competitions but what do you think?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments.
Finally, join us next time out in Canada.