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Monaco Grand Prix: Five key storylines to follow

Ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, RacingNews365.com takes a look at five storylines to follow across the event.

Perez Horner Monaco pool
To news overview © Red Bull Contentpool

F1 returns from an enforced break at this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix with news off the track engulfing the paddock.

Aston Martin will switch to Honda power units from 2026 as it pushes in its quest to become a leading F1 contender.

So as the sport gets back to action after the cancellation of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, here are five storylines to follow across the Monaco weekend.

Perez to take battle to Verstappen on another street track

Sergio Perez has pinned his name to the mast as F1's street track specialist, though this claim has been brought into dispute after Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen's dominant ninth-to-first victory in Miami last time out.

The Dutchman is targeting a third World Championship this year but has so far been unable to shake off the challenge presented by Perez, with the Mexican securing two victories out of the five races held in addition to his win in the Azerbaijan Sprint.

Whilst Verstappen boasts a points lead of 14 points, he could again be pegged back if Perez can muster a similar performance to last year's renewal, where he benefited from shrewd Red Bull strategy in tricky conditions to overcome Ferrari's challenge.

Extra needle could be induced with the return to the scene of Perez's alleged trigger point for the intra-team rivalry, which only reared its head publically in Brazil last season.

In a title race between two drivers from the same team, Monaco could be pivotal for Perez's charge.

Aston Martin eye glory

Aston Martin will ride a wave of delight entering the weekend given the coup in securing a works partnership with Honda for F1's new power unit regulatory era beginning in 2026.

The Silverstone-based outfit has rapidly upscaled with the construction of a state-of-the-art factory campus alongside an aggressive employment strategy in order to join F1's elite.

On track, Fernando Alonso has secured a podium in four of the opening five races with Aston Martin emerging as Red Bull's closest challenger and with eyes firmly on the team following its Honda announcement, optimism is high that the championship-leading team can be toppled.

Aston Martin believes the low-speed, high-downforce nature of the twisting streets in Monaco will play into its favour against the Red Bulls, with the RB19's unassailable straight-line speed being credited for much of the current gulf in class.

With Alonso's history in qualifying, there is nothing to say the two-time World Champion can't secure pole position on Saturday. That would throw the cat amongst the pigeons.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Mercedes' delayed upgrades get first look

Mercedes' long-awaited upgrade package was supposed to have debuted at Imola last weekend only for the tragic flooding in Emilia Romagna to force the race's cancellation.

The Brackley-based outfit has decided to press ahead with changes to the W14 despite the challenges associated with Monaco, given the higher probability of picking up damage compared to other events.

Data collected will almost certainly bare no relevance to any other race due to the unique nature of the Principality's circuit, yet with the unseen changes made to the car in order to accommodate the upgrades already completed, there was no option to delay further.

Whilst we won't be able to read into whether the Mercedes is more performant this weekend, we expect to see visual change to the car that has been so troublesome for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell in the early stages of the season.

The start of Mercedes' comeback could be on the horizon, but if issues persist, panic will surely begin to set in.

Leclerc under pressure?

Before the Aston Martin and Honda announcement stole the limelight, rumours of a Ferrari move for Hamilton were again in circulation.

Given Charles Leclerc crashed in Australia and twice in Miami, albeit sandwiching a pole position and podium-clinching performance in Azerbaijan, the strains of the budget cap could dictate the Monégasque be used as a pawn in a deal for the Scuderia - perhaps in a swap deal for Hamilton.

This is not the publicity Leclerc would hope for entering his home race weekend, especially with his cursed past with the event.

Last year's fourth was his best result in any series on the streets of Monaco, though that was tinged with fury given Ferrari's mystifying strategy calls that saw Leclerc drop from the lead.

Much like Alonso, Leclerc will be targeting pole position on Saturday knowing the Ferrari is much stronger on one-lap pace compared to high-fuel runs. Another crash, however, and the pressure will be cranked up a notch further.

Qualifying to carry added importance

A lot has been made about the racing spectacle at the Monaco Grand Prix in modern F1, with the longer, wider cars preventing overtaking action.

This has placed a premium on Saturday's qualifying session, with pole position likely to take the victory unless blighted by external variables.

Expect focus during practice to be focused further towards building up to qualifying, with drivers likely taking multiple laps to develop the confidence to stretch the limits of their cars and begin kissing the barriers.

With the optimism from Aston Martin and Ferrari's known one-lap pace, the session is shaping up to be a cracker.

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