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F1: Ferrari hoping for podium finish at Monaco Grand Prix

Can Charles LeClerc bag Ferrari’s first F1 podium of the 2021 season when the field heads to Monaco?

Ferrari Car - F1 Monaco Grand Prix
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Hamilton and Verstappen will likely battle it out for first at the Monaco Grand Prix, but Ferrari and Charles LeClerc will be eying their first podium of the F1 season. Let's have a look!

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

After a year’s absence, the Jewel in F1’s crown returns, with the field set to duke it out through the twisty streets of the French principality over the coming days.

Our Formula 1 scribe takes a look at the track, the previous race, Practice 1 results and gives his value bet as well as race winner verdict below.

To Win Race Outright

Max Verstappen 12/10
Lewis Hamilton 15/10
Charles LeClerc 9/1
Valterri Bottas 12/1
Sergio Perez 14/1
Crlos Sainz 14/1
Lando Norris 100/1

Previous Race

We had a very familiar finish out in Spain to the other four races with the podium consisting of Lewis Hamilton (first), Max Verstappen (Second) and Valterri Bottas (Third).

It has to be said that Red Bull’s one-stop strategy at the Spanish Grand Prix backfired spectacularly. Verstappen did brilliantly to snatch the lead from Hamilton at the start of the race, but the young Dutchman couldn’t hold on as his badly perished tyres slowed him down. 

Hamilton and Mercedes, meanwhile, executed a brilliant two-stop strategy. The Brit, on fresh tyres after a second stop on lap 41, the reigning World Champion nine seconds behind the Red Bull. Sir Lewis would chew through that advantage in no time at all to bag his third win in four races this season. 

The three juggernauts of the campaign thus far were followed across the line by Charles LeClerc (fourth) Sergio Perez (fifth) and Daniel Ricciardo (sixth).

The entirety of the top 10 actually featured names you’d expect to be there with Carlos Sainz claiming seventh, Lando Norris taking eighth, Esteban Ocon taking ninth and Pierre Gasly rounding out the top 10.

Practice 1 and 2 Results Top 6

Practice 1

1st – Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
2nd -Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
3rd – Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
4th – Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri)
5th – Lewis Hamilton(McLaren)
6th – Valterri Bottas (Mercedes)

Free Practice 2

1st – Charles LeClerc (Ferrari)
2nd – Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
3rd – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
4th – Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
5th – Valterri Bottas (Mercedes)
6th – Lando Norris (McLaren)

Track

Ah, it’s good to have Monaco back. The tightest track on the circuit may not feature many overtaking scenarios but it does throw up some great racing and tests teams’ strategies to the max. The 19 turns are difficult to manoeuvre and drivers will have to have their wits about them.

So which of the 19 turns will provide drivers with an opportunity to get a jump on the man in front of them? Well, they could try the Fairmont Hotel hairpin, which is the tightest hairpin turn on the Formula 1 calendar, but that would more than likely end in retirement for them and their victim. The easier options would be Saint Devote – the first turn on the track – or just after the tunnel into Nouvelle – it’s a tricky move to pull off and requires you to outbrake your opponent in the Nouvelle corner.

The weather is looking pretty good for this weekend with only a few intermittent drizzles being forecast at this point.

The 2019 edition of the race was won by Lewis Hamilton, while Sebastian Vettel took second and Valteri Bottas claimed third.

Value Bet

Charles LeClerc – Podium Finish – Yes – @ 15/10

I really fancy the new Ferrari main man to deliver his best showing of the season this weekend. LeClerc was very good in the practice sessions setting the best time in the second session.

He also put in a good shift last time out finishing fourth in Spain. This was his second fourth-place finish in the opening four rounds and I expect him to go one better here.

Race Verdict

Max Verstappen to win @ 12/10

Rather telling, Verstappen came into the start of the week behind Lewis Hamilton on the betting boards but he has now usurped the Brit after Thursday’s practice sessions.

Verstappen has not got a great record at the track despite promising so much here in recent years. The main reason for his woes in Monaco have been his overexuberance. He is now a far more mature driver than when he last took to the track in 2019, and if he gets pole, I reckon he can lead from start to finish- provided his Team don’t bungle the strategy this weekend. 

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