Monaco Grand Prix: How Contenders Fared in World's Most Famous Race Last Year

Monaco Grand Prix
Cars race through the streets of Monte Carlo, Monaco, on May 29, 2016. Lars Baron/Getty

Formula One's finest will line up on the grid in the streets of Monaco on Sunday for the most highly anticipated race of the season.

The championship has been held since 1929 at the Circuit de Monaco in the south of France. It is considered the hardest course to overtake because of its narrow streets.

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari finished fastest in practice on Thursday, while his closest rival, Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, ended the session in eighth place.

Here, Newsweek looks at how the contenders for the top of the podium got on in last year's race.

Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)

Ferrari's resurgence this season should see Vettel threaten to improve on the fourth-place finish he had last year. In Monaco, qualifying is vital for a good starting position on the grid because of the narrow track around the streets. The car failed to deliver for the German, who started and finished the race in fourth and was unable to thwart Sergio Perez's Force India, which finished third. The four-time world champion will expect to start at the front of the grid after proving fastest in practice on Thursday.

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

The Monaco Grand Prix tends to attract celebrities, and 2016 was no different. When Hamilton climbed past teammate and championship rival Nico Rosberg (the eventual world champion) and Daniel Ricciardo to finish first, he was met at the podium by pop star Justin Bieber, and the two men shared champagne. Hamilton had capitalized on Ricciardo of Red Bull after a slow pit stop and defended his position for 45 laps to win his first race of the season and reignite a title charge with Rosberg. But the Briton will have to improve this weekend after being eighth-fastest in practice.

Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

Bottas' chances of a podium finish in Monaco have increased dramatically from last year, after he traded Williams for Mercedes. Bottas started 10th on the grid and dropped to 11th after being overtaken by then-teammate Felipe Massa. Despite being in the better car, the Finnish driver was 10th fastest in practice on Thursday, 0.025 seconds slower than Hamilton.

Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)

Second in the championship before the race in Monaco last year, Raikkonen was one of the favorites to take the checkered flag. But while his teammate Vettel had a frustrating day, Raikkonen's was awful. The Finnish driver, who is fourth in the standing this year, crashed into the walls at the hairpin in Monaco and had to retire early despite trying to drive on with his front wing scraping along the street. On Thursday, Raikkonen was third-fastest in practice ahead of Saturday's qualifying.

Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)

Despite finishing third last year, Ricciardo left the racetrack furious with his team. The Australian had started the race in pole position and at one point built up a lead of 13.1 seconds on Nico Rosberg. Mercedes ordered Rosberg to allow his teammate Hamilton to pass him and put the pressure on the Red Bull driver. Hamilton could only take two seconds off Ricciardo, but then the Australian was called into the pit lane by Red Bull—and the team didn't have the tires ready. Hamilton passed Ricciardo as he exited the pits. "Nothing you could say would make that any better. Save it," Ricciardo said over the team radio.

Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

Just two weeks after Max Verstappen's dream start at Red Bull by winning the Spanish Grand Prix, the teenage driver crashed heavily into the walls. It was a reminder to the Formula One world that although Verstappen's talent was clear, he was far from a finished product. This week, the 19-year-old finished sixth in practice, the same position he holds in the driver standings.