JOHANNESBURG – It was by no means a classic, but the Monaco Grand Prix this past weekend blew open both the world drivers' and constructors' championships as Red Bull's Max Vertsappen cantered to victory.
Here we look at five highlights from F1's most prestigious race.
5 Oh, Danny boy
McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo had a race to forget at the Principality, and his season hasn't been great shakes so far either. The Australian finished a miserable 12th at Monaco, adding to his previous finishes of seventh, sixth, ninth and sixth. The Honey Badger is just not getting the results at the moment, compounded by the brilliant effort that his younger teammate Lando Norris is securing. The Brit claimed his second podium of the season on Sunday, and lapped Ricciardo in the process.
Before the season started, Ricciardo had major ambitions, and had hoped to be fighting for track position with the front-runners, So far that hasn't materialised, and his season is falling apart in front of our eyes.
4 The curse continues … but …
Ferrari took a huge gamble on Sunday with Charles Leclerc, which failed spectacularly. After crashing during qualifying, the Scuderia's Leclerc seemed to have escaped major damage to his car but as he line-up on pole for the race, his SF21 gave up the ghost which resulted in a non-start.
The Monegasque is yet to complete a home race and it was another heart-breaking moment for the 23-year-old. It was not all doom and gloom for the Tifosi though, as they could enjoy the efforts of Carlos Sainz, who put in a competent race to finish second for the team. A huge amount of work has gone into making the Prancing Horse competitive again, and although it might still be a long while before they are consistent in their performances, credit must be given to the team for for the hard graft they have put in these last few months to get the team back amongst the top teams.
3 Seb finally masters Aston Martin
Former world champion Sebastian Vettel had a tough start to the season, no doubt, but in the last two races it has slowly come together for the German. In Spain he qualified in the top 10, only to drop to the 13th, and at the Monaco GP he qualified P8.
On race day he secured an impressive fifth-placed finish, despite teammate Lance Stroll having all the advantages and upgrades. A brilliant strategy did help in getting him into that position, and one could argue that the nature of the Circuit de Monaco is such that once you have track position, you are a shoe in to claim it, but even so, it was lekker to see Seb, not only finish in the points, but finish so high up and also secure the Driver of the Day honour.
2 And what about Monaco
Look, Monaco holds a special place in the hearts and minds of all involved in F1, from the fans to the driver, but if we are honest, Sunday's race was a procession. It lacked any real excitement, as intriguing as the world champions title race is, and there was hardly any overtaking. Many would even argue it a boring spectacle that became a foregone conclusion, especially after Leclerc pulled out of the event.
The question then is, should the GP remain on the calendar?
For the purists it will be an easy answer: Yes!
The cars are the major problem here – they are too wide, too long, and their aerodynamics too sophisticated to promote overtaking and reward courage. Next year, the car designs and regulations will undergo radical changes in the hopes that it will bring back more exciting races, and Monaco could be the big winner then.
1 Verstappen to the Max
Whatever your reservations regarding the race, one thing cannot be disputed: Verstappen was simply magnificent on Sunday. Sure, he got a helping hand when Leclerc failed to start, but after that the 23-year-old made no errors. There was no drama and no indication that there ever would be, as the 23-year-old won his first Monaco title. It was a brilliant effort.
Sergio Perez also had a great day out, finishing fourth, to complete a stellar afternoon for the team. Mercedes, meanwhile, had a mare of a race. Their strategy for Hamilton was disastrous, while the retirement of Valterri Bottas will not help quell any conspiracies that the Silver Arrows will do anything in their power to ensure he doesn't finish above his teammate.