Red Bull’s Max Verstappen secured his third consecutive victory of the 2023 season at the Monaco Grand Prix last weekend, maintaining the team’s perfect start to the year. However, there were plenty of other storylines to follow throughout the event, including Fernando Alonso’s impressive performance and Sergio Perez’s disastrous weekend. Here are the key takeaways from F1’s trip to Monaco.
Verstappen, Alonso, and Ocon Show the Most Monaco Magic
The Monaco Grand Prix is a demanding race that places unique demands on drivers, with qualifying being of particular importance. Despite this, the top three drivers – Verstappen, Alonso, and Ocon – showed their class throughout the weekend. Verstappen delivered a commanding performance, even when struggling on worn mediums, while Alonso continued to impress with his consistency. Ocon benefited from some luck, but his impressive Q3 pace was a timely reminder of his talent.
Perez Surely Has Lost the Championship Now
Despite Red Bull’s dominance, Perez was seen as the driver with the best chance of stopping Verstappen’s march to a third successive world championship. However, the Monaco weekend was a disaster for the Mexican, with his Q1 crash, in-race clashes, and zero points effectively ending his title hopes. Perez must show progress in the upcoming races to keep his diminishing hopes alive.
Aston Martin’s Strategy Calls Under Scrutiny
For the first time in 2023, Red Bull faced pressure for the win from another team. Verstappen had to escape Ste Devote in the lead on lap one, with Alonso alongside him on the front row. It was surprising to see the Aston start on hards, reducing the chance of a dive given that compound’s comparative lack of launch grip. While Aston was unfortunate with the rain, which turned out to be heavier than expected, it was left to wonder if it had missed its best shot at a 2023 victory given Red Bull’s domination.
The Full Worth of Mercedes’ Much-Vaunted Upgrades is Still Unknown
Mercedes introduced the reworked W14 at Monaco, with the team believing that its new sidepods have delivered a downforce gain and its new suspension is aimed at creating a more stable platform. While the team finished fourth and fifth, it is still keeping its expectations in check, with this weekend’s Barcelona outing more critical for discovering the full impact of the changes.
Hamilton’s 2024 Mercedes Contract Talks Still Progressing Amid Ferrari Speculation
Hamilton’s 2024 contract situation was a major focus before the Monaco Grand Prix, with speculation that Ferrari could offer the seven-time world champion a big bucks offer to jump ship for next year. Hamilton denied any contact with Ferrari and said “we’re almost at the end of having a contract ready” with Mercedes. While there is no panic at Mercedes about potentially losing its star driver, nothing can be ruled out until Hamilton signs a new Mercedes contract for 2024.
A Key Part of F1 Car Packages Under New Costs Scrutiny
Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack questioned why teams are spending nearly $10 million on gearbox development in a cost cap era when there is no performance difference between them. Talks on this subject are ongoing with F1 and the FIA.
McLaren Again Leads the Way in Temporary Special Liveries
McLaren’s special ‘Triple Crown’ livery is a key part of its celebrations in its 60th year of history. The split livery incorporating the colours of all three of the cars that won those races is a bit of an odd look, but it nevertheless looks rather dynamic and makes a nice change to the team’s usual design.
Monaco Qualifying Drama Alone Proves This Race’s Place on the F1 Calendar
Despite complaints about Monaco’s place on the calendar due to its dull dry race action, the drivers love the challenge of nailing the hardest qualifying laps of the season. The debate won’t be end there.