Vandoorne: 'Finally my time' in Monaco after frustrating season start

Following a frustrating start to the season, Mercedes-EQ's Stoffel Vandoorne made a breakthrough in Monaco with a sensational win after starting fourth on the grid. We catch up with the new Drivers' standings leader immediately after his win in the Principality. 

"For any driver, it's such a special race," says Vandoorne, still clearly emotional from his win on the streets of Monaco. "Everyone wants to tick the box here and to come here after a struggle last year and qualify well is great. I knew I was in the mix and I knew I had a very strong car in the race running - then we executed a perfect race so yeah, I'm very happy. 

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"We've always been fighting at the front this year and I've qualified on pole but just couldn't convert them into victories. But now, from fourth, it was finally my turn." 

For Mercedes and Vandoorne, the season started well. Second place in the season opener in Diriyah from pole, followed by another pole position in the following race from teammate Nyck de Vries suggested the Silver Arrow 02 could once again be the car to beat this season. But neither Vandoorne nor de Vries' luck would last. Gradually, the rest of the field began to make up the deficit, and Mercedes' race pace had started to fade.

Despite that, both drivers managed to keep earning crucial points to keep the team's championship chances alive and well. Still topping the Teams' standings with 120 points after Monaco, Mercedes leads the way by 15 points on closest rivals DS TECHEETAH, while Vandoorne's win now puts him at the top of the Driver's standings, too.

"I slept in my own bed last night, so it was quite strange waking up this morning and coming into the paddock! I've had good races actually at the start of the year and I couldn't convert them into into victory. So, I was just like, look, head down and my turn will come soon. And what a place to do it!" remarked the Belgian driver. 

"I felt a little bit unhappy in Free Practice 1 this morning and made a couple of changes to the car and then immediately I knew I've got a good car here - now I just need to go and do the job.

"Easier said than done but we managed to do that. And then in the race, it was a case of playing the long game, really. In the first couple of laps, I saw Mitch was pushing quite hard. He was pulling the field along and I was trying to keep my calm. I didn't have that much pressure from behind, so I could keep my energy a little bit better. That gave me the advantage once I got into the lead." 

Once in the lead, Vandoorne held firm. With Poleman Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) desperate to take his lead back and win in Monaco, the Belgian driver kept a cool head and cruised to victory on the streets of the city state. 

"It's definitely been a tough ride at the start of the year to get our our car in a good place but this weekend, we absolutely nailed it. I think we're going to take a lot of learning from here," said Vandoorne, still clearly elated.