FORM GUIDE: Will Charles Leclerc finally get his home win in the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix?
Max Verstappen has won three races in a row heading to the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix, but can Charles Leclerc stop his run with a home win? We weigh up the favourites for pole, points and victory. Head to F1 Play to join in and take on our predictor game.
Vying for pole
We haven’t had a repeat pole-sitter in Monaco since Nico Rosberg made it a brace in 2014. Since then, Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton and Leclerc have taken P1 on the grid and this year it seems that Leclerc is favourite to repeat the feat.
The Ferrari driver may be second in the championship for the first time this season, but he took a brilliant pole position last year – before crashing – and his Ferrari seems up to the task in low-speed corners, which should bode well around the Principality’s streets.
Max Verstappen has never taken pole here but it’s not out of the question, as he lost out on a good chance in 2021 when Leclerc crashed at the end of Q3 to stop the session. However, this season, the Red Bull RB18 is slightly off the pace of the Ferrari when it comes to those slower corners.
Three years ago, it was Hamilton on pole position, but the Mercedes isn’t the strongest at low speeds. Team Principal Toto Wolff says: “Monaco hasn’t always been our happiest track, and slow-speed corners haven’t been our strength this season as we saw in Barcelona, but we’ve seen so far this year that anything can happen…”
Mercedes are the outsiders for pole and the fight is firmly between Red Bull and Ferrari. Carlos Sainz is, however, losing the qualifying battle 6-0 to Leclerc and Sergio Perez is losing his battle 5-1 against Verstappen – so neither should be considered pole favourites on Saturday.
Pole positions in the last five races:
- 2021 – Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
- 2019 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
- 2018 – Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
- 2017 – Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
- 2016 – Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
FAN VIEW: Claiming pole on Saturday in Monaco is hugely important given the difficulty in overtaking around the tight street circuit. F1 Play gamers like Max Verstappen to be fastest over a single lap to claim the advantage for Sunday. Charles Leclerc is close behind, with a little support too for Sergio Perez.
In the mix for victory
One would expect the pole-sitter to gain victory in Monaco as this is generally described as a “processional” race – it is hard to overtake round these parts – but only three times since and including 2014 has the pole man taken the win here – although Verstappen essentially started on ‘pole’ in 2021 and won after Leclerc retired pre-race.
Barring any repeat misfortune, Leclerc is favourite to take pole and therefore victory, but Verstappen isn’t far behind. It’s going to be really close between those two and any jostling for position could bring Sainz and Perez back into the fight.
Our early forecasts show a 60% chance of rain on Sunday, which means things might be even tougher and perhaps spring a shock victory. It’s high time we had a chaotic Monaco contest in the wet, which could yield something like… Olivier Panis’s 1996 victory! Okay, wishful thinking there but Mercedes will be hoping to pounce on any mistakes from the front-runners as they have throughout this season so far, and the fastest midfielders including Lando Norris, Esteban Ocon and Valtteri Bottas will be among those out to mount a coup if there’s chaos.
Pit and driver errors are more damaging in Monaco than anywhere else, given this circuit’s short lap and lack of opportunities to pull away from the rest of the field. Just ask Ricciardo. So, while the championship leaders are favourites to win, there’s always a tiny chance that the Form Guide could be blown wide open on Sunday.
Wins in the last five races:
- 2021 – Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
- 2019 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
- 2018 – Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
- 2017 – Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
- 2016 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
FAN VIEW: Wow, the voting so far could not be closer. We have less than 1% separating title rivals Max and Charles at the head of affairs with the reigning World Champion just having the edge so far. Gamers do not believe it’s possible anybody else wins – a literal handful of votes for the other leading contenders.
As shown in Spain, Mercedes are still podium outsiders – Russell having pounced on Sainz’s mistake and Leclerc’s retirement to take P3 – but they’re closer to the front two now. Excluding the two leading teams, the Silver Arrows are still frontrunners to take to the rostrum.
McLaren are also up there – both Ricciardo and Norris having proven their mettle around Monaco with the latter finishing third behind Sainz and Verstappen here last year, and the former having won in 2018 (his hopes dashed in 2016 after a pit stop error). Their only bugbear will be a self-admitted lack of low-speed prowess.
The team in orange were, however, just ahead of Alpine, Aston Martin and AlphaTauri in the slower corners during Spanish GP qualifying. All four of those teams will be hoping to leap on an error if it rains on Sunday. If precipitation does strike, though, they will all have to watch out for another podium contender.
That contender is Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas. He showed brilliant low-speed pace in Spain and finished sixth – losing out on P4 towards the end – and will be one of those hoping to capitalise amid potential drama.
Podiums in the last five races:
- Ferrari: 5
- Mercedes: 4
- Red Bull: 4
- McLaren: 1
- Aston Martin/Racing Point/Force India: 1
FAN VIEW: Very much a case of the usual suspects here, with George Russell strongly fancied to press the Red Bulls and Ferraris again this weekend. There is renewed support for Lewis Hamilton too on the back of that battling P5 in Spain. We may have to remove the ‘outsider’ tag from the Silver Arrows quite soon.
If he’s not got the chance to nab a podium, Bottas is most definitely in with a shot at big points in Monaco. He’s shown great pace and consistency to boot, his Alfa Romeo surely up to the task around the streets of Monte Carlo. Team mate Zhou Guanyu has suffered two successive retirements and will be hoping to buck the trend in Monaco too. The Chinese driver took P5 then P3 in the 2019 Monaco Formula 2 weekend, and used the 18-inch Pirellis here in F2, so he’s had his eye in already.
As for McLaren, Norris will be expected to score for the fifth time in 2022, while Ricciardo has enjoyed Monaco (let’s just forget 2016) with an average career finish of P5 at this track, and one victory. If ever there was a circuit at which the Australian could pull himself back into the fray, it’s this one.
Bar 2021, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso has also finished well around here, even managing P5 for the beleaguered McLaren-Honda outfit back in 2016, while Esteban Ocon is aiming to make it a third consecutive points finish in the Principality.
Sebastian Vettel is another one to watch as Aston Martin look to get the most out of the drastically different upgrade package that they brought to Spain. If they do nail the set-up here – a tough task but not an impossible one – Vettel and his team mate Lance Stroll might be points contenders.
We haven’t yet mentioned Williams. Alex Albon is excellent at keeping those tyres working. Could he pull off a contrarian strategy and snatch another point?
Points in the last five years:
- Red Bull – 130
- Ferrari – 121
- Mercedes – 121
- Aston Martin/Racing Point/Force India – 45
- AlphaTauri/Toro Rosso – 36
- McLaren – 35
- Alpine – 9
- Haas – 6
- Williams – 3
- Alfa Romeo/Sauber – 1
FAN VIEW: Valtteri Bottas has been terrific so far after his move from Mercedes to Alfa Romeo. As well as posing for photos naked in rivers, the Finn has really started the 2022 season in great form on track, and gamers expect him to be in the points again in Monaco. Mick Schumacher is also coming in for good support.