The first thunderclap of the day occurred prior to the race when Charles Leclerc was once again deprived of home glory, having to abandon the race right after the formation lap due to an issue on his drive shaft that passed under the radars of Ferrari’s technical team.
Max Verstappen, therefore, took possession of the very precious Monaco pole position, closely followed by Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz. While the entire grid opted for the softest available compound, Stroll and Tsunoda surprisingly took the decision to start on hard tires, probably to attempt overcutting some of their rivals.
The race start turned out to be very clean with only slight contacts at turn one. Red Bull’s Verstappen and Mercedes’ Bottas both imposed a strong rhythm right off the start and started digging an important advance over their pursuers.
In the meantime, Gasly was surprisingly able to keep up with the pace of Hamilton, while his young teammate was looking extremely weak around the principality, only being able to fight with the Haas and the Williams.
The lap times were close within the top 8, the fastest drivers in this interval lapping the Circuit de Monaco in approximately 1:15.800 while the slower were driving one to two tenths slower a lap. This shows how close the battle is in the 2021 Formula One season and nothing was played after 20 laps of racing.
25 laps into the race and first signs of tire degradation started to show up as Bottas complained about his front left rubber, while Sainz was swallowing tenths and became very urgent.
At lap 30, Hamilton was the first driver to dive into the pitlane. The Briton opted for Hard tires to undercut Gasly. One lap later, the second drama of the weekend occurred when Mercedes saw themselves powerless in front of Bottas’ front right tire and could not unscrew it. The Finn later abandoned, offering the second position to Sainz.
The midfield battle was roaring, Hamilton triggering a cascade of pit stops. However, Mercedes’ strategy turned out to be terrible as Hamilton did not manage to undercut Gasly and was overtaken by both Vettel and Perez after Red Bull pulled off an amazing strategy that helped him secure P4.
Sainz also opted for the hardest available compound and looked more confident than ever on his new tires, lapping the street circuit more than one second faster than Verstappen and catching up with the race leader at an amazing rate. In the meantime, Norris was now standing in P3, more than 8 seconds ahead of Perez thanks to Bottas’ unfortunate pit stop.
After 50 laps of racing, Verstappen was maintaining a comfortable 3-second gap ahead of Sainz while Vettel, Ocon, Gasly, and both Alfa Romeos were also doing an amazing job further down in the ranking.
Late in the race, Norris admitted per radio that he was unhappy about his tires and started losing a lot of ground to Perez. At the 66th lap of racing, the Red Bull driver was chasing the Briton, less than one second behind him. The last few laps of racing were extremely promising.
As Hamilton pitted for the second time to claim the fastest lap of the race, Red Bull was temporarily leading the constructors’ championship, one point ahead of Mercedes, in the meantime, Vettel was still standing in an amazing fifth position. Perez’s performance was also notable, standing in P4 after starting the race in the ninth position.
Finally, at the end of an amazing race weekend, Verstappen seized the win in the principality, taking the championship lead for the first time in his young career. Sainz also had a racing masterclass, claiming the second position after showing great confidence throughout the weekend. Norris filled the podium with his second P3 finish of the season, scoring 15 valuable points for the championship fight.