Last Time Out:
It was bad news for the neutral, better news for those who bet through this blog, as Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes romped away to another resounding victory.
Their fifth consecutive 1-2 finish, secured at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, leaves them one more win off a double-scores lead in both the drivers and constructors championship.
Elsewhere, Max Verstappen continued to wring every last tenth and point out of his Red Bull-Honda. The Dutchman completed the podium ahead of the two Ferraris.
The competitive nature of the midfield was once again realised with Haas, McLaren, and Toro Rosso managing to fill the four remaining points-scoring positions.
Kevin Magnussen in the Haas was ‘best of the rest’ with a seventh place finish.
The Monaco Grand Prix always was and remains the jewel in the crown of the Formula One calendar. The grand prix has ran consecutively since 1929 and along with the Indy 500 and the Le Mans 24 hours, it forms the Triple Crown of Motorsport.
Monaco has long attracted the rich and famous and the race on Sunday will be no different. It’s the race to win as a driver and for a team.
Sponsors will be out in force, viewing figures will be considerably higher, and as a consequence, so will the stakes.
It is an entirely unique circuit stretching over just 3.3 kilometres of the Cote d’Azur coastline.
The track has its drawbacks however. Overtaking is such an impossibility that qualifying on the Saturday very much becomes part of the story of the race. Very often, it is the decisive moment of the weekend.
This final point regarding the track is salient when looking at this 2019 edition.
Qualifying could well prove decisive for this race. Seven of the last ten races have been won by the polesitter, with nine of the last ten won by a car on the front row.
Mercedes have locked out the front-row in four out of five of this year’s grand prix. I won’t be looking further than the Silver-Arrows for the race win this weekend.
In terms of qualifying head to heads, Valtteri Bottas is surprisingly ahead 3-2 against team mate Lewis Hamilton.
That being said, Hamilton was faster than Bottas around the Monaco streets this time last year. Their qualy postitions at the end of the 2018 season reflected Hamilton’s dominance last season – the Brit qualified in an average position of 2.71, Bottas ended up in an average position of 4.14.
This season Bottas leads at 1.8, Hamilton at 2.00. They’re only five races in, but on face-value, this is a different Valtteri Bottas than the one we’ve seen in recent years.
One of these two should win the race barring technical or driver issues, Hamilton (9/10) at odds-on for pole, and just about odds-against for the race win (21/20) seems too short on recent evidence.
Beyond the race win, the race for the final podium position is fascinating.
While Red Bull won this race last year, and have traditionally always had the best package for the Monte Carlo circuit, they are struggling with this year’s car.
New regulations have erased their advantage through the slow corners. While team principal Christian Horner has insisted they are reclaiming that lost downforce, they can only expect to fight Ferrari for the final podium position.
Ferrari are expected to struggle here. They brought an excellent car to this track for the last number of years, however their philosophy shift from cornering to straightline speed will very much count against them this weekend.
Charles Leclerc will be the home-town hero for Ferrari and has won here in F1’s primary feeder series. The monagasque managed to win this race in Formula 2 in 2017, just days after his Father passed away.
A more motivated driver you will not find.
Max Verstappen has totalled his car at Monaco in 2015 and last year. He’s a more complete driver now but at a price of 11/20 for a podium finish I’ll be opposing him.
I’m drawn to the generous pricing around Bottas for this weekend.
His performance here will indicate just how likely the Finn is to challenge five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton for this year’s drivers’ title.
Monaco Grand Prix Race Winner – Valtteri Bottas at 5/2
Monaco Grand Prix Qualifying Winner – Valtteri Bottas at 12/5
For the podium finish, I’m looking at a speculative small stake on Charles Leclerc for Ferrari.
He will have to overcome his team mate Sebastian Vettel, a two-time winner here, and a flying Max Verstappen in the Red Bull-Honda.
That being said, at a price of 8/5, I think he’s the value selection for the market.
Monaco Grand Prix Top 3 – Charles Leclerc at 8/5.
Finally, at a shade better than evens, I suggest backing there to be over 15.5 classified drivers at 11/10.
Two of the last four races here have seen over 15.5 finish, the other two have seen 15 finish. I think the price is nice for over 15.5.