Formula One hits the streets of Monte Carlo this weekend for sixth round of the 2016 Formula One World Championship: The Monaco Grand Prix.
Last time these drivers were on track was at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain, where 18-year-old Max Verstappen – in his first race for Red Bull – capitalized on a collision between Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to take his first Formula One victory.
It remains to be seen if Verstappen can continue his momentum and if the Mercedes team can rebound. Although we won’t know for sure until the lights go out at 8 a.m. on Sunday (follow along with GP Racecast for all of this weekend’s F1 action), here’s a look at who’s hot and who’s not heading into Monaco:
Lewis Hamilton – NOT
Does he still have the pace? Absolutely. Problem is that Hamilton has taken pole three times this season and failed to lead into the first turn all three times. Although, if he took pole, his chances of leading into Turn 1 would be higher in Monaco because of the short run down into the first corner, fact is that Hamilton hasn’t won the Monaco GP since 2008, while his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg has won the last three runnings. Granted, however, Hamilton only lost out last year because of a late pit stop that the driver and team instantly regretted.
Perhaps this is an exaggeration, as Kimi Raikkonen currently sits second in the points. However, Ferrari has not tasted victory at Monaco since Michael Schumacher took the checkered flag in 2001… 15 years ago. In fact, besides Michael Schumacher, no other Ferrari driver has won the Monaco GP since 1981. If Ferrari want to change this on Sunday, they’re not only going to have to pick it up and challenge Mercedes, but hold off the ever-improving Red Bulls too…
Max Verstappen – HOT
Max Verstappen is red hot right now. Having just been promoted to the Red Bull Racing team, he took his maiden Formula One win at the Spanish GP. Although Verstappen was involved in a heavy crash here last year, he and his teammate Daniel Ricciardo still have a reason to smile, as the twisty streets of Monaco typically suit the Red Bull chassis. The team finished in fourth and fifth positions here last year.
Sergio Perez – HOT
Sergio Perez had a rough start to the season, but has finally got his act together and put on back-to-back points finishes heading into Sunday’s Monaco GP. Meanwhile, his teammate Nico Hulkenberg has failed to finish the past two races. Perez will be hoping to continue his point streak this weekend at a track where he brought home a solid seventh place finish last year.
Haas – NOT
The U.S.-based Haas F1 Team rocketed off to a fantastic start of the season. However, in the past three races, the new outfit only brought home a handful of points once when Romain Grosjean crossed the line in eighth place after surviving the Russian Demolition Derby. But all is not lost, as Monaco is the first time that Formula One has been on a street track since Australia… where Romain Grosjean got sixth. If Haas is able to turn it around on this twisty course, they may be in luck, as street races at Montreal and Baku follow Monte Carlo.
McLaren – HOT
Fernando Alonso failed to finish last Sunday’s Spanish GP. Other than that, McLaren has seen its cars score points each time they’ve crossed the line in the last two Grands Prix. The team is certainly beginning to make strides, and there’s no better place for them to be at than Monaco, a track in which its strong chassis should certainly help them score points again. Case in point: Jenson Button has scored points at Monaco the last three years running, and is coming off of back-to-back point finishes heading into this race.