Verstappen leads a championship for the first time since his karting years

2021 Monaco Grand Prix stats and facts

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Not only did Max Verstappen take the lead of the world championship for the first time in his career yesterday, it is the first time he has led any series since graduating from karting after 2013.

He arrived in Formula 1 six years ago following an incredibly short apprenticeship in single-seater racing cars. Verstappen cut his teeth in the Florida World Series which did not crown a champion over the course of its 12 races. He won twice against opposition which included his future grand prix rivals Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi, as well as F1 presenter Will Buxton.

From there Verstappen moved into Formula 3, where he chased Esteban Ocon for the title throughout much of the season, but ended the year third in the points after engine problems in his Van Amersfoort-run Dallara-Volkswagen. Ocon took the lead of the championship from eventual runner-up Tom Blomqvist at round two, and was never headed from that point on.

Well before the season was over, Verstappen did a deal with Red Bull to make his debut as a Formula 1 driver the following year with Toro Rosso. A sudden promotion to the top team followed in 2016, and since then it’s looked like a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’ he might emerge as a title contender.

Max Verstappen, Van Amersfoort, Imola, Formula 3, 2015
Verstappen won 10 races but never led F3 standings
It’s taken until now, however, for him to take the lead in the points standings. He’s the first driver in anything other than a Mercedes to top the table since the 2018 German Grand Prix, when Lewis Hamilton took the lead from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, 1,036 days before Sunday’s race.

It’s also the first time Red Bull and one of their drivers had led their respective championships at the same time since the end of the 2013 season – before the V6 hybrid turbo era began.

Verstappen scored the 12th win of his career in Monaco, giving him as many victories as Mario Andretti, Carlos Reutemann and Alan Jones. Strikingly, this was the third win for a non-Mercedes team in the principality in the last four events, underlining the team’s claim that this isn’t a track which plays to their strengths.

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Indianapolis, 2005
The last race with an empty pole spot: Indianapolis 2005
This was the fastest ever Monaco Grand Prix, won at an average speed of 157.833kph. With no Safety Cars or even yellow flags to disrupt proceedings, Verstappen reeled off the 78 laps in one hour, 38 minutes and 56.82 seconds. Only the 1984 race – red-flagged long before full distance due to teeming rain – was shorter.

The race marked 60 years since Stirling Moss’ famed flat-out drive to beat the Ferraris in 1961. After that race, Moss pointed out he would only have covered the 100 laps 40 seconds quicker had he matched his pole position time on every tour. How times change: Verstappen’s winning time was 449 seconds slower than 78 pole position laps by 2021 standards – that’s seven-and-a-half minutes.

Charles Leclerc set the pole position but did not start there. The pole spot was left vacant for the first time since the notorious 2005 United States Grand Prix, when 14 of the 20 starters pulled off on the formation lap, including the quartet on the front two rows. The last time a front row starting position was left vacant was at the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix when another Ferrari, belonging to Kimi Raikkonen, failed to start.

It was the eighth pole position of Leclerc’s career, equalling John Surtees, Riccardo Patrese and Jenson Button. But there’s not much to celebrate in that when you don’t get to start the race.

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Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Monaco, 2021
Tsunoda could be F1’s last ‘Monaco virgin’ for a while
Lando Norris took his third podium finish, all of which have been third places, and has retaken third in the championship. However Daniel Ricciardo’s 12th place means McLaren are no longer the only team to have scored points with both cars in every race.

Sebastian Vettel bagged his first points as an Aston Martin driver with a fine fifth place, while Antonio Giovinazzi gave Alfa Romeo their first score of the season, in a race where eight of the 10 teams scored points.

All four newcomers to the Monaco Grand Prix finished the race, in the bottom four positions. Of those, Yuki Tsunoda had never previously driven the track in any category.

He was the first driver to make their Monaco F1 debut with no prior experience of the circuit since Lance Stroll in 2017. With most young drivers now being funnelled through Formula 2, he may be the last for a while, as he would have driven the circuit last year had the pandemic not caused the event to be cancelled.

Have you spotted any other interesting stats and facts from the Monaco Grand Prix? Share them in the comments.

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2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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49 comments on “Verstappen leads a championship for the first time since his karting years”

  1. It was fifth time in total as polesitter failed to start, with the following having suffered the fate earlier:
    Jean-Pierre Jarier, Argentina 1975
    Didier Pironi, Germany 1982
    Michael Schumacher, France 1996
    Jarno Trulli, USA 2005

    1. Don’t remember the older 2, schumacher had an engine problem in the formation lap, the 1996 car was not only slow but unreliable, and trulli had michelin tyres, which proved inadequate for indy in 2005.

      1. @esploratore Clearly a car starting on pole can’t be that slow. The 1996 was horribly unreliable but it was slow only on some tracks while on others it was pretty quick.

        2005 the tire debacle it was a fault of all the parties incl. Fia and Bridgestone not just michelin because they wouldn’t want to find a solution which would have saved the race and instead preferred to have the most hollow victory in the history of the sport that irreparably damaged the USA grand prix at Indianapolis

        Regarding the older two: 1982 Pironi suffered career ending injuries in qualifying after already setting the pole time. And 1975, it’s was just Jarier usual awful luck, whenever he had a chance to win there was always something outside his control to prevent him from winning

        1. The Dolphins
          26th May 2021, 0:04

          Don’t forget Bernie in that list of parties to blame; he was the ringmaster of the circus after all. I still vividly recall the anger of the fans, throwing drinks on the track as they left the circuit. A mark on the sport for sure, I hope IMS and Liberty can mend the relationship because F1 racing at Indianapolis was pretty special.

    2. RaceFans seems to credit LeClerc with pole. Is that the accepted convention? He gets a pole even if he doesn’t start the race?

      1. I believe so since he the qualifying session ended with him on pole and no penalties were applied.

      2. Yes, Leclerc counts as pole because the official starting grid has him starting first. Unlike Schumacher a few years ago, coincidentally also in Monaco, who was fastest in qualifying but then had to take a grid penalty from the previous race, so the stats say he never had a Mercedes pole despite him having the fastest time.

        Verstappen also took his normal P2 grid slot on Sunday.

      3. CL drove the most if not all but one with a illegal engine; should FIA not have stript wins and poles from Ferrari???

  2. It was the fourth time this century that the driver who set the fastest time in qualifying at Monaco didn’t start from the front of the grid. Interestingly, there was a different reason each time:

    Monaco 2001: David Coulthard qualified on pole but stalled on the grid and had to start fropm the back.

    Monaco 2006: Michael Schumacher was quickest in qualifying, but was demoted to the back of the grid for blocking the track in qualifying.

    Monaco 2012: Michael Schumacher was quickest in qualifying, but carried a 5-place grid penalty from the previous race.

    Monaco 2021: Charles Leclerc qualified on pole, but a car failure prevented him from starting the race at all.

  3. That Stirling Moss race stat is unbelievable. Can’t imagine doing that, and for a hundred laps…
    I’m looking for words but I ain’t got much. What a legend.

    1. It is an amazing stat but also quite revealing about the state of F1. The fact they are driving so far from the ragged edge has a direct consequence on the number of errors seen on race day. Compared with qualifying, where errors are far more common (given the drivers do ~6 flying laps), there were remarkably few incidents in the race. This is despite the fact Monaco is still lined with armco and the cars themselves are wider and faster than ever.

      So why are they so far off quali pace in the race? Part of it is fuel, but only part. Perez set one of the fastest laps around lap 30 odd. It’s tyres – these tyres are just awful for racing. We need to see drivers being challenged, running on the edge for most of the race. Reliability is incredible now, but the fact the cars are not being pushed must aid this too. There’s no jeopardy if all 20 cars are pretty much guaranteed to finish.

      I’m sure we’ll see more errors at tracks with big tarmac run offs but that is unacceptable too – errors must be punished. Monaco should have provided that and although it did in qualifying, the race was too easy. The way these pirelli tyres need to be handled is ruining the sport (it makes the race too easy to drive) and I fear the big regulation changes next year will not solve this glaring problem.

      1. It is a combination of things. They don’t push the engine or gearbox to the limit because of reliability rules, they don’t push the tires because of degradation, and they simply can’t push full out every lap because energy harvesting and release rules.

        The Pirelli tires degrade by design, a feature chosen by the FIA and the teams.

        Reply moderated
      2. Yeah, absolutely.
        Hard to argue with that.
        Thinking perhaps there might be a few factors contributing to why the record wasnt beaten (or was it?) in the previous decades, too – maybe tyre manufacturers have figured out how to make tyres faster over quali laps, whereas in Moss’ times the technology wasn’t as advanced so they were more evenly performing across the stint – and maybe they’d even get better as the grooves would get shallower, I don’t know.

        But yeah, current drivers being forced to drive well within the car’s pace is a shame.
        I hope 2022 cars prove enough of a success for Brawn & co to consider dipping toes into more natural racing territories.
        I also hope it’s indeed just FIA/Pirelli to blame here, and not also the teams’ evolved data analysis capabilities

        1. @minilemm The tyres in the 1960s were not very sophisticated – they would have been absolutely rock hard compounds so degradation would have been extremely minimal. towards the end of the decade, teams were measuring tyre temperatures across the surface of the tyre (as a way to setup camber etc, to get the best contact patch when cornering) but obviously they could only do this back in the pits – I believe drivers used to push to the limit on the in lap in order to get representative tyre temps back in the garage.

          it’s a different world now, of course but I do wonder if a tyre war would bring back something the sport has been lacking for the last few years.

      3. @frood19 – In addition, it’s lack of refueling. Regardless of whether you like or dislike refueling, removing it means that pitstops are fewer, so tires/tyres have to last much longer.

        Many here make the argument that reintroducing refueling would just mean more passes would occur in the pits, and that may very well be the case. I’m not trying to argue that it would make races better or worse.

        But it would also allow softer tires and more pushing because everyone would have to pit multiple times anyway. So a worn set of tires would probably not be as big of a detriment as they are currently.

    2. @minilemm
      Even though Stirling Moss drive in 1961 Monaco GP was unbelievable, I still cannot believe his drive at the 1955 Mille Miglia GP. A 1.597 km race completed in 10 hours, 7 minutes e 48 seconds at an average speed of 157,650 km/h on ridiculously dangerous open roads. A record that still stand to this day, easily the greatest drive of all time.
      After the race had a bath and a meal and drove back 400km to Stuttgart, met Mercedes board of directors and then he drove himself home to Britain.

      1. Just read about it. Thanks for the pointer.
        Holy mother. Not sure the drivers of today even have the chance to do something equally impressive. Without it being illegal.

  4. First podium for McLaren since 2011, Button 2nd.

    1. And back then it was also RB 1st (Vettel), Ferrari 2nd (Alonso) and McLaren 3rd (Button)

  5. First time Hamilton has started outside the top 6 since Germany 2018 (a race he won from 14th).

    Verstappen led more laps in Monaco than Hamilton has led so far this season.

    Only circuits at which Verstappen has raced but not finished on the podium: Baku, Istanbul, Monza, Mugello.

    The last 4 Monaco GPs have seen Sainz score points with 4 different teams.

    23rd consecutive race where the top 3 has featured at least 1 driver whose first name is 5 letters long starting with L (Brazil 2019 was the last race without). This increases to 28 if you base it on the drivers that actually stood on the podium (Singapore 2019 was the last race without).

    Every race so far this year has seen Hamilton either win or set fastest lap, but not both.

    Ricciardo’s first no-score since Spain 2020. Norris now has the longest unbroken points-scoring run (10, last no-score was Portugal 2020).

    15th consecutive season in which Vettel has scored points.

    First time since Turkey 2020 that Mercedes did not have a car on the front row.

    Ferrari extend their record streak of at least 1 podium every year since 1981.

    First time that Honda have led a championship since 1991.

    Thanks to statsf1 for some of these.

    1. The verstappen led more laps just in monaco than hamilton this season is an impressive stat, you don’t really think about it when mercedes was overall quicker.

      1. It’s also misleading…for example if you lead the whole of the race around the old Hockenheim you’d have only lead 45 laps but if you lead the whole of the Monaco GP you’ve lead 78 laps.

    2. Also when mercedes doesn’t qualify on the front row, vettel performs well, last good race for vettel was indeed turkey 2020 before this!

    3. 40 years in a row with podiums, that’s consistency, even in bad years such as 1992, 1994, 1995 or 2020.

    4. StatsF1 is awesome.

  6. First Ferrari-Red Bull-Mclaren podium since 2012 US Grand Prix. On that race, these 3 teams were represented by 3 WDC champions who had 5 championships between them. This time they have just 0 championships and just 12 wins between them.

    This is the 2nd youngest podium in F1 history. In fact, the 3 youngest podiums have all been scored in the last 1.5 years:
    3) Italian GP 2020 – Gasly, Sainz, Stroll
    2) Monaco 2021 – Verstappen, Sainz, Norris
    1) Brazil 2019 – Verstappen, Gasly, Sainz

    As you can see, Sainz is the common link between all three. Not just that, Sainz has been the oldest guy on the podium in all three races. And these are the only 3 podiums Sainz has scored in F1 so far.

    So lets hope the day comes that Sainz can share his champagne with an older driver :)

  7. Nikita Mazepin still has a mathematical chance of being World Champion this year……

  8. It is amazing to see the subtle racial tribalism and GREAT WHITE HOPE THEORY in action.Lewis won the 1st race and took the lead in the championship but also made an unprecedented achievement of winning a race in every season,and Crofty a guy that like vomitt useless stats bearly mentions it.
    In the 2nd race, he too poles to also achieve a remarkable record of a pole every in every season his participated in F1 also went largely unnoticed…..
    Lewis went on to win the next 2 races extending championship lead while the White yarned and assert Max legendary status in F1 without any accomplishments or achievements.Apparently Max doesnt even think he has anything to prove thats how absurd things are.
    Apparently now Max taking the lead in the championship at race 5 is the most epic decisive event in the history of F1 according to BITTER Diresta.
    Incidentally now the the young white Max has won, the debate about fastest car have subsided

    1. Well, for once mercedes wasn’t the fastest car this race, but the debate didn’t subside, I fully expect them to have the upper hand again in baku, unlike hamilton said, it’s a power track.

    2. I guess Lewis broke and is breaking so many records we can’t keep up anymore. Also I think we might be a bit bored by all of it and experience it as a nice change of things if some-one else wins something (anything really). Dont get the black and white thing though. Has it something to do with the livery?

    3. What are you on about?
      Is it newsworthy that the winner of the first race leads the championship after the first race?

      These are the stats after Sundays race, where the only achievement of Lewis was that he started, finished and set fastest lap during the race.
      I think it was mentioned earlier that Lewis has won a race in every season. It is hardly something to mention after the 4th race when he has won already 3 of the previous races in this season.

      That a non-Mercedes driver leads the driver and constructor championship is quite new in the last 7 years. How many times had that happened?

      I think you missed all the articles about Lewis his achievements, of which there were plenty.

      Keep the race card for real racial issues.

      1. And Ham broke the race lap record!

        A fact that is now entirely meaningless since the extra point. So forget I mentioned it.

    4. Broccoliface
      25th May 2021, 10:10

      It’s because people are fed up of the same winner year in year out. You race obsessed lunatic.

  9. What a bitter choice for a headline.

    1. I don’t think it’s fair to call it a bitter headline. It is just an interesting fact that Max Verstappen hasn’t led a championship since his karting days, and stats are always phrased to make them sound as incredible as possible (it sounds more impressive than ‘Verstappen leads a championship for the first time since 2013’). It’s like how you often hear stats relating to ‘five points finishes in the last seven races’ for example; the numbers of races to go back is always the number that makes the stat sound the most impressive.

      1. Omar R (@omarr-pepper)
        25th May 2021, 13:00

        @f1frog well, it’s quite bitter. This sounds better.
        “Max became the 64th different driver to lead the WDC”

        1. It also sounds utterly insignificant :)

        2. (I guess you were being sarcastic though?)

    2. Tommy Scragend
      25th May 2021, 13:07

      Bitter is perhaps not the right word, but I think it is a bit of a sensationalist headline. If you look at the facts, it’s not all that surprising that Verstappen hasn’t led a championship “since his karting years”.

      He only competed in single seaters for one season before coming into Formula One. Surely no one could have expected him then to do so for Toro Rosso, and since moving to Red Bull he has had little chance to do so due to Mercedes’ hegemony.

  10. I wish this came earlier yesterday (afternoon or earlier evening) as per usual, but anyway:

    Sainz got out-qualified by a teammate in Monaco for the first time but started fourth, his highest-ever grid position on the track.

    The 157.833 kph surpassed Alonso’s 2007 race-winning average speed, the previous reference.

    Max became the 64th different driver to lead the WDC.

    Sainz maintained his 100% scoring record in Monaco.

    McLaren’s first Monaco podium finish since Button’s 3rd in 2011.

    Perez scored in Monaco for the first time since finishing on the podium in 2016.

    Leclerc was the first polesitter failing to start due to a mechanical failure since Michael Schumacher in the 1996 French GP at Magny Cours.

    The 4th consecutive season in which the Red Bull B-team has finished 7th or better in Monaco.

    Stroll finished in the points for the first time in Monaco.

    1. It was also Max first podium in Monaco

  11. First time since 2009 the Monaco Grand Prix has no safety car. Oddly calm Montecarlo afternoon for Maylander.

  12. Verstappen has now 6 podiums in a row (he is tie in his personal record from Styria-Belgium last year).
    This was Honda’s 80th podium as an engine manufacturer.

    Netherland is now tie with Sweden and New Zealand with 12 wins.

    This was 55th time that Mercedes has scored at least 1 point Britain 2018- (their record is 62 Brazil 2012 – Russia 2016 but they’re behind Ferrari 81 Germany 2010 – Singapore 2014 and Mclaren 64 Bahrain 2010 – Monaco 2013.

    Thanks for F1stats

  13. I think it’s the Florida Winter Series, not World Series.
    Did Will Buxton really race in this? I thought he was a mere journalist, not from a racing background.

  14. Max, Ham and Seb were all first time Monaco winners at the age of 23.

  15. This race also guarantees that Hamilton will not equal Schumacher’s record score of 100% podiums in a single season this year, a stat he has somewhat surprisingly been unable to match despite Mercedes’ unprecedented streak of title winning cars. He does hold a joint third place on that list with Vettel, both scored 17 podiums out of 19 races in 2015 and 2011 respectively.

    Verstappen is the only driver who could still take a 100% score this year.

  16. Ben (@sunnchilde)
    26th May 2021, 14:38

    It’s extremely difficult to pass anyone in Monaco. Just get Pole and stay there. Barring any put issues, you’ll win.

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