The fourth round in Spain earlier this month saw Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton claim a dominant victory – as well as a milestone 100th pole position – to open up a 14-point lead at the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen came home in second place and remains Hamilton’s nearest chaser, while the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas is a further 33 points back in the title race.
On the Constructors’ Championship front, Mercedes lead the way with 141 points, followed by Red Bull (112), McLaren-Mercedes (65) and Ferrari (60).
Hamilton has dialled up the mind games in his fight with Verstappen, explaining that he has new insights into his rival’s abilities after chasing him down at the Spanish Grand Prix in Catalunya.
“It was actually a really good day,” Hamilton explained. “I learned a lot about Max today and perhaps more than all the other races probably put together.” He continued, “Obviously I was following relatively closely and I learned a lot about his car and learned a lot about how he uses it. So that was a good race in that respect.”
Verstappen, meanwhile, desperately needs teammate Sergio Perez to get up to speed and provide some back-up, with the Dutchman suffering in strategy terms as the Mercedes duo can routinely split their approach on race day and make life difficult for him – something which would be far less of an option if Perez was in the picture.
“I think it’s important to keep making those steps and put the whole weekend together,” Perez said of his time in the Red Bull thus far. “It just takes me too long to get up to speed. When we get to a new circuit on a Friday, I’m like adapting my style. So I’m still not there with the car yet. But you see that things are coming, but not together. But I think once we are able to put them together, definitely we have the pace to be able to go pretty quick.”
This weekend sees the 78th edition of the Monaco Grand Prix, arguably the most iconic race of the F1 calendar and one that makes a welcome return after missing out last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The narrow, bumpy and twisting Circuit de Monaco is one of the most demanding tests for the drivers and qualifying will be all important, as the track is so difficult to overtake on. The undoubted king of Monaco was the late, great Ayrton Senna, who win the race six times in the space of seven years from 1987 to 1993.
On the current grid, Lewis Hamilton (2008, 2016, 2019), Fernando Alonso (2006, 2007), Sebastian Vettel (2011, 2017), Daniel Ricciardo (2018) and Kimi Raikkonen (2005) have won at this event in the past.
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Monaco Grand Prix broadcast details, 22-23 May 2021
All times CAT
Saturday 22 May
15:00: Qualifying – LIVE on SuperSport Motorsport and SuperSport Maximo 1
Sunday 23 May
15:00: Race – LIVE on SuperSport Grandstand, SuperSport Motorsport and SuperSport Maximo 1