Skip to content

Monaco Grand Prix: Will Red Bull's winning F1 streak come to an end and why McLaren could cause a shock

The Monaco GP has a history of throwing up surprises and appears likely to provide Red Bull with their toughest test yet; Watch the Monaco GP all live on Sky Sports F1, with an expected thrilling Saturday qualifying at 3pm and Sunday's race at 2pm

Sergio Perez leads Carlos Sainz at the 2022 Monaco GP
Image: Red Bull's Sergio Perez won last year's Monaco GP

Red Bull have won every race of the 2023 Formula 1 season, but this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix is set to provide their rivals a major opportunity to end the RB19's domination.

World championship leader Max Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez have shared five victories between them, but the Circuit de Monaco is an outlier on the F1 calendar, given the unique slow-speed nature of the track.

The average speed is so low that an exception is made for the 305km minimum distance for a race, as Monaco is just 260km (77 laps).

Every team will design a car which they believe will be able to perform consistently at most of the 23 tracks on the calendar visit, but there is no other circuit like Monaco.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Look back at some of the most dramatic moments to have taken place at the Monaco Grand Prix

During Ferrari's dominant years in the early 2000s and the Mercedes reign throughout much of the turbo-hybrid era, Monaco was where their rivals could pounce.

This year is no different, so are Red Bull set to come under serious pressure for the first time in 2023?

Ferrari favourites for Monaco?

Charles Leclerc has a dismal record at his home event after failing to finish the race in 2018, 2019 and 2021.

Also See:

Last year, he started on pole position and led the first part of the wet race before a strategy blunder saw him drop to fourth behind Perez, team-mate Carlos Sainz and Verstappen.

Charles Leclerc prepares for the opening practice session at the Miami GP
Image: Charles Leclerc has qualified fastest in Monaco twice but is yet to finish on the podium

Leclerc is arguably the best driver over one lap in F1 with an incredible ability to take his car to the absolute limit, although sometimes too far.

The only non-Red Bull pole this year was delivered by Leclerc in Baku, with the twisty 90-degree corners being where he was faster than Verstappen, showing the Ferrari has great mechanical grip and good traction.

He was 0.144s quicker than Verstappen in Sector 2 at the Baku City Circuit and in Miami the trend continued when analysing the mini sectors, as Ferrari were the benchmark in the slow turns, before losing ground everywhere else.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc edges out Red Bull rival Max Verstappen to claim pole position for the third straight time in Baku

A trait of the Ferrari power unit is it tends to accelerate slightly faster than the Honda engine in the back of the Red Bull, so that should also help around Monaco.

"I like city tracks in general," Leclerc has said previously. "Baku, Singapore, Monaco - they are tracks I really enjoy. You can really play with the limit compared to a normal track.

"The limit is a hard limit, as it's the wall, so you cannot overstep it and it's a game about building up to be close to the wall without touching it."

Red Bull are beatable over one lap

Verstappen admits the field are closer in qualifying trim and Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz believes the time it takes the RB19 to get its tyres up to ideal temperature is one of the car's few weaknesses.

Whereas at most tracks they have plenty of opportunity to take advantage of their greater race pace, at Monaco missing out on pole can be decisive.

CIRCUIT DE MONACO, MONACO - MAY 29: Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18 during the Monaco GP at Circuit de Monaco on Sunday May 29, 2022 in Monte Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Mark Sutton / Sutton Images)
Image: Max Verstappen is seeking a second F1 victory at the Monaco GP

"That resistance to front dive makes it harder for Verstappen and Perez holding the steering wheel to feel the load across the front axel during braking. That leads to locked front brakes," Ted explained.

"It also means that because there is not so much energy going through the front wheels, these front tyres take longer to get up to working temperature.

"The very thing that makes the Red Bull so quick in the race makes it struggle in qualifying. And as Max Verstappen says, the fact the car comes alive after four laps into the Grand Prix kind of reminds him of a family estate car.

"The pattern is clear. The RB19 is a superb car, when it eventually gets going."

McLaren to cause an upset?

McLaren have endured a hugely disappointing start to the season, with upgrades brought to their MCL60 in Azerbaijan appearing to have failed to make a significant impact.

However, Lando Norris has expressed confidence regarding the car's performance in slow-speed corners, suggesting it's a match for the Red Bull.

Lando Norris in action at the Miami GP
Image: Lando Norris finished on the podium at the 2021 Monaco GP

"It's tough. Like straight-line speed, we know where we are, but it's still pretty shocking," the Briton said after finishing ninth in Baku.

"It's not like we have a lot more downforce in the corners to catch up and then [we are] slow on the straight; we are just the same in the corners and [then] slow on the straights."

Data shows they were a match in the slow-speed turns in Baku and McLaren were the benchmark in Melbourne, even before their upgrade.

McLaren MCL60 special Triple Crown livery
Image: McLaren will be debuting a special Triple Crown livery in Monaco

Monaco is the least power-sensitive track of the year, although the run up to Massenet (Turn Three) and through the tunnel, are where McLaren will likely lose out.

However, they could be right up there everywhere else, and with a bit of luck, a shock podium isn't completely out of the question.

What about Mercedes and Aston Martin?

Fernando Alonso, who has finished on the podium in four of the opening five events, fancies Aston Martin's chances this weekend as well, even though McLaren and Ferrari have shown more performance in slower corners.

Interestingly, the AMR23 has also been slightly better than Red Bull in the slower stuff this year.

"We seem to have a car that is maybe not the fastest on the straights. We need to improve that, but we are very good on the corners," said Alonso.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Fernando Alonso plays padel, reveals his retirement plans and what it's like competing for pole position near the end of his career

"So I would say that the slowest speeds of the championship, let's say Monaco, Budapest, Singapore [is where we could win]. These kind of circuits, I think we put our main hopes at the moment."

As for Mercedes, they were set to bring a new floor, new front suspension and new bodywork to Imola, but will instead use it for the first time in Monaco.

The upgrades intend to put Mercedes on the right development path, so it's vital that they work, although Monaco may not be the best track to judge whether their efforts in Brackley have paid off.

MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AUTODROME, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - MAY 07: Sir Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14 during the Miami GP at Miami International Autodrome on Sunday May 07, 2023 in Miami, United States of America. (Photo by Jake Grant / LAT Images)
Image: Lewis Hamilton is fourth in the drivers' championship ahead of the Monaco GP

With Red Bull, Ferrari, Aston Martin set to be fighting for the win, with the threat of McLaren from behind, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell possibly could be in for a challenging weekend.

Qualifying on Saturday promises to be a thriller and everyone will know if you start on pole in Monaco, it's very hard to not win if it's a straightforward Grand Prix on Sunday.

Sky Sports F1's live Monaco GP schedule

Friday May 26
10.05am: F3 Qualifying
12pm: Monaco GP Practice One (session starts 12.30pm)
2.05pm: F2 Qualifying
3.45pm: Monaco GP Practice Two (session starts 4pm)
5.30pm: The F1 Show: Monaco

Saturday May 27
9.55am: F3 Sprint
11.15am: Monaco GP Practice Three (session starts 11.30am)
1.30pm: F2 Sprint
2:30pm: Monaco GP Qualifying build-up
3pm: Monaco GP Qualifying
4.45pm: Ted's Qualifying Notebook

Sunday May 28
7.15am: F3 Feature Race
8.45am: F2 Feature Race
12.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday Monaco GP build-up
4pm: Chequered Flag Monaco GP reaction
5pm: Ted's Notebook
5.30pm: The 107th Indy 500

Formula 1 now heads to the streets of Monaco for the sixth Grand Prix of the 2023 season - watch all the action on Sky Sports F1 from May 26-28. Get Sky Sports

Around Sky