Verstappen targeting strong qualifying in Monaco

Max Verstappen plans to have a decent qualifying in the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix next weekend, something he struggled with at the same venue back in 2022.

In fact, it was Sergio Perez who mastered the mixed conditions that prevailed over last year’s edition of the Formula 1 race around the Principality, winning from third on the grid, Verstappen third having started fourth.

Other than Verstappen’s 2022 Monaco struggles, that race will also be remembered for Perez’s qualifying crash which prevented Verstappen from completing a flying lap in Q3, which many believe did not go down well with the Dutchman who consequently refused to obey team orders and hand over sixth place to the Mexican in the 2022 Sao Paulo Grand Prix later on.

But that was last year, as in 2023 the F1 circus arrives in Monaco after the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was cancelled due to the floods that hit the northern Italian district.

“I am excited to get back to racing this week,” Verstappen said in Red Bull‘s race preview. “Not racing in Imola was the right decision and I know it was not taken lightly but some things are obviously more important than racing and this was one of those occasions.

“Looking ahead to Monaco, qualifying is so important there so we need to make sure we are as strong as we can be in that session,” the 2021 and 2022 F1 Champion added. “The circuit in Monaco is super tight, even more than other street circuits. So, nailing a quali lap here is extremely difficult but at the same time very exciting.

“The race is usually heavily dependent on the strategy as overtaking is almost impossible. And of course, I live in Monaco so it’s nice to go home every evening during the Grand Prix weekend,” Verstappen concluded.

This year Betway has Verstappen odds-on favourite for the Grand Prix in Monte Carlo, with Perez and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc looking good for a podium around the latter’s home track according to bookies ahead of the weekend.

Perez: Well rested coming into Monaco

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 29: Race winner Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing, Second placed Carlos Sainz of Spain and Ferrari and Third placed Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing stand on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 29, 2022 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)

Perez also gave tribute to the people of Italy and Emilia Romagna, he said: “My thoughts have been with everyone who has been effected by the floods in Italy. Sometimes racing isn’t important and the safety of everyone becomes the priority.

“We’ve had a weekend off, which means I feel very well rested coming into Monaco week,” he added. “This is the race every driver wants to win growing up and I was lucky enough to achieve that last season. That has only made me more hungry to stand on the top step once again.

“The weather could be tricky again here, which means we have to maximise every moment we get in the car. It’s important we get our set up right and qualifying goes well to have any chance of winning on Sunday.

“I am massively looking forward to getting back onto this track, it’s a fun drive!” Perez concluded.

With Red Bull being the team to beat in 2023, the question ahead of every grand prix so far was whether Verstappen or Perez would win. Who will it be in Monaco?