Monaco GP under pressure to change after Leclerc’s processional victory

<span>F1 cars race alongside the harbour in Monte Carlo. Overtaking is all but impossible on the narrow street circuit.</span><span>Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Formula 1/Getty Images</span>
F1 cars race alongside the harbour in Monte Carlo. Overtaking is all but impossible on the narrow street circuit.Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Formula 1/Getty Images

The Monaco Grand Prix is under pressure to find ways to adapt after a ­strikingly uneventful procession on the streets of Monte Carlo was won by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc on Sunday.

The Monégasque’s first victory at his home race was delivered with calm command from pole, including a restart after a horrific opening-lap accident, in which the Red Bull of Sergio Pérez was all but destroyed. However, with the race red-flagged, the teams were able to change tyres, removing the requirement for a pit stop; what ensued was 75 laps of a turgid train to the finish line.

Related: Charles Leclerc wins Monaco F1 GP for Ferrari to delight of home crowd

Overtaking is all but impossible now in Monaco given the width and weight of the cars; with tyre management required to see them to the end, the drivers proceeded to crawl round the track at a torturously slow pace in line astern.

Monaco’s contract with F1 ends after 2025 and as much as the historic circuit, which held its first GP in 1929, is resistant to change, the usual ­rhetoric about the glamour and ­heritage of the race appears to hold little weight with drivers or teams.

Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, said: “It’s not ­racing as such when you’re just driving around three or four seconds off the pace because the other car hasn’t got any chance of overtaking. It’s something we should look at. It’s such a great place, so much history here, but everything evolves. We need to collectively as a sport, with the promoter, look at how do we introduce an overtaking opportunity.”

The top 10 remained in the order they started the race, and of the handful of overtaking moves none were for a position in the points. The viability of the race for modern F1 cars, which McLaren’s Lando Norris noted were all but incapable of even going side by side in Monaco, has long been in question and, after the enormously pedestrian race on Sunday, F1 is poised to once more consider what can be done to avoid a repeat.

Red Bull’s world champion, Max Verstappen, who finished sixth unable to even consider making a pass, said the race was so boring he needed a pillow and urged F1 to assess any avenues that might offer even an opportunity of overtaking. “We all know in Monaco what it is like,” he said. “In the last few years it is even more difficult with the width of the cars. I would like to change if possible a few little things, because it would make it more exciting.”

Lewis Hamilton, who started and finished in seventh for Mercedes, was equally dismissive. “I don’t know what it was like watching but I am sure people were falling asleep,” he said. “We have to find ways of spicing it up a bit more, maybe three mandatory pit stops?”

Verstappen now leads Leclerc by 31 points in the world championship but after a dominant start to the season the Dutchman has won only one of the past three races, with McLaren and Ferrari taking one apiece, at Miami and Monaco. This weekend Red Bull struggled with their car on the bumpy circuit with its slow corners and Horner acknowledged he considered them both a genuine threat in a title fight that had been considered previously as a cakewalk for Red Bull.

“Ferrari and McLaren certainly look competitive,” he said. “They cannot be discounted. It’s a long, long championship and obviously they’ve taken a rea­sonable chunk of points today.”

However Horner was dismissive of what he saw as a lack of competitive edge from Red Bull’s former title rivals Mercedes. George Russell finished in fifth and was instructed to drive slowly by the team until the final third, which Horner derided.

“It was a hugely conservative race by George, to give up so much time and then go so fast at the end of the race,” he said. “It didn’t really make a lot of sense, they weren’t going to overtake anybody, it was just a very defeatist race to try and defend fifth.”