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Stoddie Straight: Verstappen title confirmed by Perez failure, critical F1 issue highlighted

RacingNews365's expert columnist, former Formula 1 team principal Paul Stoddart, picks apart the biggest talking points from the Monaco Grand Prix.

In his post-race column for RacingNews365.com , former Formula 1 team principal Paul Stoddart outlines why Verstappen deserves a third World Championship, why Aston Martin and Fernando Alonso are "the superstars" of the season and what F1 must do to help viewers in the American market.

Title Verstappen's to lose as Perez becomes Red Bull 'research driver'

That third sector in qualifying, wow. I thought Fernando Alonso had it. Max Verstappen was two-tenths down by the end of the second sector, and the third sector is so short, so to pull that out in the last sector just shows you why he is the champion that he is. That was a mega lap. He really did deserve that Pole Position. Thank God for rain because we had a very processional race, with the only highlight being Carlos Sainz's mishap with Esteban Ocon. Then along comes rain 25 laps from the end to liven the whole thing up into what became a really exciting race. I really feel for Fernando because this was the one that he could have won. Had he got onto those Intermediate tyres at the first pit stop, we could have really seen a tight finish between him and Max. But, as it turned out, Max finished with more than a pit stop in hand, so he was in no real danger anywhere other than hitting the wall. I think with that points lead now, it is pretty safe to say the championship is Max's to lose completely, and Red Bull, despite Sergio Perez's failure, will comfortably win the Constructors' Championship. Dear old Perez has shown he is not going to be a championship contender. That is the second time now we have seen him throw it away in qualifying: first in Australia and now Monaco. It was just generally a really, really bad weekend for him and he was almost demoted to a Verstappen research driver to see what the tyres were doing at the end of the race. It was not a good weekend for him. Ferrari were just off the pace. They seem to have the one-lap pace but keep making mistakes. Sainz again threw places away, so I think they were the biggest losers.

Aston Martin and Alonso's big win chance

The thing that impressed me the most all weekend is yet again we have got Aston Martin right up ahead of the manufacturers. With their team and their resource - and I know they have got an improving budget but it is not all there yet, they are operating under pretty tight conditions given they are going to move into a new factory - yet they are building the best car other than Red Bull in the field, ahead of Mercedes with all their resource, ahead of Ferrari, clearly, and ahead of Alpine - who actually had a pretty good weekend. Aston Martin are the superstars of the year so far. We expected it with Red Bull, but nobody expected it with Fernando. Both Verstappen and Alonso made clean starts, Fernando chose to go onto the Hard tyre, which was probably the right choice - as it turned out that tyre could have probably done the whole race without any issues. It is fair to say that for Max to get 52 laps out of the Medium was pretty serious driving, looking after his tyres. Without that brush with the wall, he had that race under control all day. I just think if Aston Martin had put Fernando on Inters when he came in - and it is not a criticism because hindsight is a wonderful thing - in that moment it was slicks but in half a lap, it wasn't slicks. The rain came, Fernando questioned it on the radio, mildly saying 'are you sure it isn't Inters' and the team said no. It clearly wasn't Fernando's choice. Normally Fernando has a bit more input, but it really was one of those things. At that point in time, I would have stayed out another lap and that would have told them in no uncertain terms they needed Inters. With the correct call, I think Fernando could have had a ten-second lead. Battling with Max in the final 22-23 laps, I think it would have been an exciting race rather than a processional one.

F1 must solve United States TV crisis

I saw the race live on TV in Indianapolis in the USA, but there was no build-up, and straight after the chequered flag and the podium ceremony they just cut away. The Americans really don't care about their coverage of Formula 1 racing. If they cared, they would have it on a channel consistently - which they don't, it's on three different channels. When I checked all this ahead of the race weekend, it was all supposed to be on one channel, there was a delay on qualifying, but everything else was pretty much scheduled in. But then no, it is not on, and there is no announcement. You could never set anything up to record, because you would be completely messed around. F1 can do a lot about improving its American audience if they sorted out the TV offering. It is ESPN sometimes. This time it was ABC, despite being announced it was on ESPN. Then you have got ESPN, ESPN 2 and ESPN 3 - the latter being a subscription channel. So unless you are a diehard F1 fan, you have really got to hunt around and don't take anything in the scheduling as actually being gospel. It will change, and it does change. F1 is not high enough up the food chain of importance out here. I was watching the Azerbaijan Grand Prix from the USA as well, and they delayed the start by 45 minutes because there was an overrun on some kind of volleyball tournament they were showing but, again, without any announcement. I really feel for any American fans that really want to be fans because they have got to work twice as hard as anyone in the world to be chasing the actual race around. What I will say in their defence is they have actually changed to take Sky TV commentators. It used to be worse because they had American commentators who frankly knew nothing about F1. They could do a lot better and get a lot more fans by simply scheduling the races on one channel, free-to-air and do it with consistency, it is all it will take.

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