The Spaniard started on the Supersoft tyres and made the most of the grip available to go from last to sixteenth by the time he pitted for the Soft Pirellis on lap 12. After that intelligent strategy choice, he produced a very strong performance to do the longest stint of the race on the harder tyre, running it all the way to the chequered flag. Quite an achievement! On lap 38, he was fourteenth behind his team-mate and moved up to twelfth on lap 62. On the following lap came Verstappen’s crash that would hand Sainz tenth place in the end and also affected the outcome at the front of the field.
So what about Max Verstappen? Well, the main thing is he is fine, uninjured, although likely to be a bit sore in the morning. After qualifying tenth, he was promoted to ninth on the grid because of Carlos’ penalty and he started the race in aggressive fashion with a great move on Pastor Maldonado at St Devote to go eighth on lap 8. Unfortunately, his first pit stop, on lap 29 was too slow, and it dropped him back down the field to thirteenth place.
The Dutchman came in for a second pit stop on lap 46, taking on another set of Supersofts with the idea of having an advantage over the cars around him. He got back to eleventh, closing on Romain Grosjean in the Lotus, who was sitting in that all important tenth place. However, on lap 63, as Max tried to make a move on the Frenchman at St. Devote corner, he clipped the right rear tyre on the Lotus, which knocked his left front wheel off and sent him crashing at alarming speed, head-on into the barriers. It was a very heavy impact and there were a few worrying seconds before Max confirmed he was ok and managed to get out of the cockpit and walk away.
Unfortunately, that’s not the end of it, as the Stewards deemed that Max had caused the collision and he will have to drop 5 grid places at the next race. Round 7 of the championship is in a fortnight’s time on another track that has some similarities with a street circuit, albeit a very quick one – the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Canada.
The Verstappen-Grosjean incident brought out the Safety Car, first the Virtual one then the real one, with 14 laps remaining. It would prove the undoing of championship leader Lewis Hamilton. The Englishman had been comfortably in command up to that point, but he and his Mercedes team decided to bring him in for a new set of Supersofts. His team-mate Nico Rosberg and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel moved ahead and that was the order in which they finished on the royal podium. It was a third consecutive win in the Principality for Rosberg, albeit a very unexpected one.