Race Weekend Central

F1 Midweek: Drivers Excited for Return to Monaco After 2020 Absence

It’s been two years since Formula 1 last raced in the Principality of Monaco, due to the 2020 Grand Prix being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the most famous grand prix in F1 is back, and the drivers could not be more excited. For some, it’s the return of an old friend. For others, it will be their first crack around the oversized go-kart track that we call the Circuit de Monaco. A grand prix entering its 78th edition, many F1 drivers have shared their thoughts on the Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc

The only Monegasque on the grid, Leclerc pretty much wants to forget Monaco every time he comes home. Having raced there four times between F2 and F1, Leclerc has yet to make it to the finish line once. In 2017, he scored the pole and lead in the early going. After his team fitted the wrong tires onto the car, it created a mechanical issue that forced him to DNF. Leclerc also failed to finish the sprint race. In 2018, Leclerc made his F1 Monaco debut with Alfa-Romeo, and he suffered a brake disc failure that led to him crashing into Brendan Hartley and failing to finish again. For 2019, he tackled the course with Ferrari, and crash damage would force him out for the fourth time in a row.

“We are not yet where we want to be. We want to be fighting for first place on Sunday by making everything perfect. But I am really looking forward to Monaco. Obviously, it is a very special weekend for me, a weekend where I have not been very lucky in the past so I hope we can have a good weekend as a team.” – Charles Leclerc

Nicholas Latifi

The Canadian was set to make his first start at Monaco last year. However, he never got the chance to after the pandemic hit. This season offers the 2020 rookie of the year a chance to take on one of his favorite tracks on the calendar.

Having driven there eight previous times, Latifi has a best finish of eighth in the 2018 Monaco feature race. In addition to Latifi’s Monaco debut, the Grand Prix brings a special milestone for his team Williams Racing. The 2021 Monaco GP marks the 750th Grand Prix for the British team, dating back to their debut at the 1977 Spanish Grand Prix over 45 years ago.

“I think it goes without saying that I’m extremely excited to race around the streets of Monaco in a Formula One car for the first time. I’m also really pleased to be part of Williams’ 750th race celebrations throughout the Monaco weekend. It’s a huge achievement for the team, and I’ll be proud to have the names of 100 of our supporters with me on the halo.” – Nicholas Latifi

Max Verstappen

The Red Bull golden boy has been locked in a title fight with Lewis Hamilton all season long. With Hamilton holding the lead 3-1 in wins, Verstappen faces a steep challenge with the Monaco Grand Prix. This race feels almost like a must-win scenario – at a track he has never scored a podium at.

Sitting 14 points back of Hamilton, a former winner at Monaco, Verstappen has his work cut out for him as he looks to score a much-needed Monaco win. While he loves the track, his best result there has been fourth in 2019.

“I’ve never been on the podium in Monaco so I would like to change that. We just need to have a clean weekend, I think that is very important. We’ll see if we are fast or not, but so far in qualifying, we have been quite close, so I just hope it’s going to be the same in Monaco.” -Max Verstappen

Lando Norris

Getting ready for his second crack at the GP, Norris and his McLaren team have a surprise for the F1 world. In collaboration with their title sponsor Gulf, a special retro blue and orange livery will be run at Monaco. Norris finished 11th in his only other start but says the Gulf paint scheme makes Monaco extra special this season.

With McLaren being a solid mid-field runner this year, Norris and his team know the pressure is on to compete with the likes of Ferrari at the upper mid-field. Sitting only five points ahead of the prancing horses, Norris expressed his desire to contend with former teammate and current Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz.

“I think if you get to know someone you learn what he’s (Sainz) good at and what he’s not good at – or what he’s not as good at, because I think all drivers in Formula 1 are just good at everything. There are just some better than others. I’ve been able to learn what he’s very strong in and what he maybe isn’t quite so strong in, and when you’re on track, sometimes you can use that against them. You sort of know what they’re thinking, and how they want to approach situations.” – Lando Norris

Daniel Ricciardo

Settling into his new role at McLaren, Ricciardo expressed that he is here to race and not to “mess around in the comedy show.” However, the 2018 Monaco winner believes that this year could be his chance at a second victory in the principality.

With Verstappen and Hamilton racing so close all year long, it inevitable that the two drivers are gonna crash into each other. When that does happen, Riccardo will be there.

“I think rivalries are great for the sport and having those two guys go at it is good. Hopefully, at some point over the course a year, that creates an opportunity for us, because I think it is just a matter of time until they both are determined to not let up in to Turn 1 and neither come out.” – Zak Brown (McLaren Team Boss)

About the author

Alex has been writing in the motorsport world since he was 19. Starting his career with the NASCAR Pinty's Series, Alex's work has been featured in Inside Track Magazine, TSN & NBC Sports as well as countless race programs.

Alex has also worked within the junior hockey world in Canada, appearing as a desk host for the OHL's Barrie Colts. He also got the opportunity to cover the 2018 Chevy Silverado 250 which appeared as the headlining article on NASCAR.com.

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