Ferrari triumphs in Monaco: Formula 1 is finally (somewhat) exciting again

Red Bull is weakening
Ferrari triumphs in Monaco: Formula 1 is finally (somewhat) exciting again

Charles Leclerc and the Ferrari team celebrate after the Monaco victory

© Ryan Pierse / Getty Images

After several failed attempts, Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc celebrates his first victory in his hometown of Monte Carlo. The triumph confirms a trend: Dominator Max Verstappen and Red Bull no longer rule unconditionally.

First he pushed his superior Frédéric Vasseur into the harbor basin of Monte Carlo, then jumped Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc in his racing suit dives headfirst after the race. Taking a victory swim is a good tradition after the Monaco Grand Prix. In recent years, Red Bull has built a swimming pool especially for the ritual.

Leclerc, 26 years old, won the legendary street race for the first time in his career on Sunday. Before that, there was talk of his Monaco curse because he had not managed to win in his hometown in his first five years as a driver for the Italian racing team. Even when he took pole position in 2021 and 2022, the Monegasque failed, although the front starting position almost certainly means victory on the narrow street circuit. But Ferrari managed to squander its excellent starting position in the best Ferrari tradition. Once the car failed on the way to the starting position due to a technical defect, another time the team messed up the victory due to stupid strategy errors.

Ferrari regularly made mistakes in Monaco

This time the race went almost perfectly for the Scuderia. Leclerc kept his nerve and confidently led the field until he raced over the finish line. The success is also special because it confirms a development that has been apparent in the current season: Ferrari and McLaren are (finally!) challenging Red Bull’s dominance. Reigning world champion Max Verstappen only finished sixth in Monaco. His car is still the fastest on most tracks, but on certain courses the Red Bull cannot exploit its superiority. Slow, tight corners and hard curbs ruin the performance of the car, and here Ferrari and McLaren have a clear advantage. They are faster in such passages and better absorb the hard track boundaries that the drivers race over to save distance.

The Red Bull, on the other hand, jumps over curbs and bumps like a “kangaroo” and loses speed. “The car is terrible. I can’t really describe what’s happening. It’s very difficult.(…) The car jumps like a kangaroo, it’s having a hard time dealing with all these bumps and bumps and curbs and changes in incline. We’re losing an incredible amount of time. We couldn’t go any faster,” said Verstappen after the training sessions on Friday. The next race in Montreal is also not a good place for the Red Bull. Ferrari and McLaren will probably be serious competition again.

Carlos Sainz: Getting stronger every weekend

The race on the Côte d’Azur is only of limited use as a benchmark because it has special conditions and most other tracks suit Red Bull much better. Nevertheless, Ferrari and McLaren have reduced the gap to Red Bull. Verstappen’s lead over Leclerc in the drivers’ championship has shrunk to 31 points. After two years of boredom, in which Verstappen was in a league of his own, the dominance seems to be over. There is a hint of a real title fight.

“It looks like we are getting stronger and stronger every weekend,” said Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard finished third in Monaco and has already won one race this season. “Red Bull are still the favorites, but they will not dominate as much as they have in the past, which is good for the championship,” said Sainz, who will have to vacate his Scuderia cockpit for Lewis Hamilton next year.

McLaren is similarly self-confident. The development of the traditional British team is perhaps even more dangerous for Red Bull and Verstappen. The young driver duo Oscar Piastri, 23, and Lando Norris, 24, are making demands: “We can be confident, no matter where we drive,” said Australian Piastri. Victories are now possible for them on any track. Piastri came second in Monaco, Brit Norris fourth, and they are sixth and third in the World Championship. There is much to suggest that they will be chasing Verstappen together with Ferrari in Canada in two weeks.

Sources:Motorsport Total“, “Motorsport Magazine“, “Southgerman newspaper“, DPA

source site-2