Formula 1: Who has the best chance to stop Mercedes in Monaco?

Which driver has the best chance to end the hot start that Mercedes have had to the 2019 Formula 1 season by winning the Monaco Grand Prix?

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport are riding a seven-race winning streak heading into the 2019 Formula 1 season’s sixth race, the Monaco Grand Prix, at Circuit de Monaco. Perhaps more notably, they are riding a five-race 1-2 finish streak, something that no team had ever been on to start a season in Formula 1 history.

SHANGHAI INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT, CHINA – APRIL 14: Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG W10, leads Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF90, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15, and Pierre Gasly, Red Bull Racing RB15 during the Chinese GP at Shanghai International Circuit on April 14, 2019 in Shanghai International Circuit, China. (Photo by Andy Hone / LAT Images)

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have occupied the top two steps of the podium following each of the season’s first five races, with Hamilton climbing to the top of the podium on three occasions and Bottas doing so on the other two.

But the Monaco Grand Prix is one of only two remaining races on this year’s schedule that the Brackley-based team have not won since the 2016 season, and it is a race that could provide both Scuderia Ferrari and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing a great chance to earn their first victory of the season.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel won this race in 2017 ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen in second place. Meanwhile, Vettel’s new teammate, Charles Leclerc, has arguably been stronger than the four-time champion through five races so far this season and will be very hungry to earn the first victory of his career in his home race.

But with all things considered, Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen has the best chance to become the first driver other than Hamilton or Bottas to win a race since last year’s Mexican Grand Prix, which he also won.

If not for his crash in the third and final practice session for the race last year, Verstappen likely would have started the race in second place if not from the pole position. Regardless, he would have been able to get around teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

Ricciardo’s car was 25% down on power after suffering an MGU-K failure on lap 18 of the 78-lap race around the 19-turn, 2.074-mile (3.338-kilometer) Circuit de Monaco temporary street circuit in Monte Carlo, Monaco, and he still won it by 7.336 seconds over Vettel in second place despite the fact that his car was roughly 20 miles per hour slower than the cars of his rivals on the straightaways.

Verstappen would have won the race with ease considering how dominant of a weekend it was for the Milton Keynes-based team, which comfortably finished 1-2 in each of the practice sessions before Ricciardo took the pole position for the race and led all 78 of its laps.

But because of the fact that Verstappen was forced to start the race in 20th (last) place, he was only able to work his way up to ninth on the tight streets of the principality.

So far this season and for pretty much the entire second half of last season, the 21-year-old Dutchman has been like a completely different driver compared to where he was at this point last season. As far as his crashing issues are concerned, which resulted in a boatload of criticism directed at him, they have been nonexistent.

Verstappen is currently on a 10-race streak of top four finishes, including one victory and six additional podium finishes, going back to last season, and his only retirement in the last 16 races came as a result of an engine failure. He hasn’t made a notable on-track error since his crash in the third and final practice session for last year’s Monaco Grand Prix.

If Hamilton and Bottas both fail to win this Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, don’t be surprised if it is Verstappen who finds himself standing in the top step of the podium.

Source: Fansided