Verstappen cruises to victory in rainy Monaco

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Monaco, Monte Carlo Circuitmc

Max Verstappen was in charge of the Monaco Grand Prix from start to finish and secured the third consecutive Red Bull Racing victory at Monaco. Fernando Alonso was second throughout the race while Esteban Ocon completed the podium for Alpine.

When the lights went out everybody kept their heads cool and got off the line cleanly. In fact in the first lap there wasn't a single position change in the first 13 positions. Bottas, Sargent and Magnussen all moved up a spot as Stroll got himself sandwiched on the outside at the hairpin.

The tyre differences did enable for some threats but in reality overtaking is so difficult that the medium tyres could only have made a difference towards a better getaway from the grid. That's probably why Verstappen started on medium tyres, allowing him to more comfortably maintain the lead.

Ocon, Hamilton, Tsunoda and Norris were the other top 10 starters on medium while Alonso, both Ferraris, Gasly and Russell opted for the hard tyres. Note that Alonso and Stroll started on 1-lap scrubbed hard tyres while the rest of the field had shiny new boots instead.

At the end of the first lap, Perez, Zhou and Hulkenberg already made a stop, all due to damage incurred during the first lap with slight touches here and there. They all changed to brand new hard tyres with Perez emerging 18th, ahead of Zhou and Hulkenberg. Hulkenberg would later receive a 5s penalty for the bumping during the first lap.

By lap 10 Verstappen had build op a 3s gap over Alonso while Ocon rapidly lost touch with the cars ahead. The Alpine was 1s a lap slower, leading to Ferrari asking Sainz to push the Frenchman harder, only for the Spanish Ferrari driver to end up outbraking himself and damaging his front wing against the right rear wheel of the Alpine. Sainz had hoped to outbrake Ocon on the inside towards the chicane but Ocon closed the door, leaving Sainz unable to brake hard enough to avoid contact.

Sainz lost the left front wing endplate which he lost half a lap later alongside the track. As Sainz continued like that the Ferrari crew that were ready to fit a new wing returned to their chairs.

Moments later Alonso questioned his engineers if he had a puncture, seemingly worried about car balance. His team assured him everything was ok but clearly that lap cost the Spaniard a second to Verstappen while still gaining time on Ocon.

In lap 17 we had our first overtake on track when Magnussen passed Sargeant at Mirabeau Haute. The Williams driver had formed a train behind him and was clearly struggling. Stroll passed the Williams the same lap at La Rascasse followed by Sergio Perez at Anthony Noghes.

One lap later Hulkenberg also managed to get past Sargeant with Zhou doing the same a lap later. Sargent eventually pitted in lap 26 to switch to soft tyres. A surprising choice to say the least.

In front Verstappen built up his gap to Alonso to 11s as the Spaniard reported some graining but then things turned around at lap 28 was Alonso found back the grip while Verstappen noted visibly high degradation on the front left. As Verstappen was busy working his way through traffic, including the battling Stroll and Perez, Alonso lapped a full second a lap faster. Perez in the event ended up breaking his front wing and was required to pit, returning to the track in 19th position, 24 seconds behind 18th-placed Albon.

Hamilton is then the first of the top 10 runners to make a stop on lap 32. Ocon did the same one lap later. Despite Ocon's 4s stop Sainz couldn't benefit and rejoined the track behind Ocon following his stop a single lap after Ocon. The situation made Sainz furious, telling his engineer "I don't care about Hamilton" after he told the Spaniard their pitstop was to prevent a position loss on Hamilton.

Leclerc then switched from hard to medium on lap 45, followed by Gasly on lap 48. For most hard runners it became a bit of a gamble to decide whether to wait to stop as long as possible and perhaps cover for the possible rain.

On lap 50 Red Bull told Verstappen "maybe a few drops of rain at Turn 6". A minute later Russel l reported "spitting at Turn 3". Another few minutes later it was visibly wet at Mirabeau until the entry of the tunnel.

In lap 53, Bottas and Stroll switched to intermediate tyres. Zhou followed the same strategy one lap later, just like Albon. Tsunoda, Devries, the Alpines and the Alpines all switched to intermediates while Alonso pitted and switched to used medium compound dry tyres.

As Verstappen declared Alonso's move crazy he dove into the pits to switch to intermediates. Alonso and Aston Martin soon appeared to realise their risk or mistake and pitted again for intermediates, returning to the track still in second place, 5s ahead of Ocon.

This left Magnussen as the only car driver left on dry weather tyres. He clearly went nowhere though and had to let everybody pass through as by now the track had become completely wet. At Rascasse, just before entering the pits, Magnussen also got stuck and had to reverse out of the barrier to get to the pits.

In that stop, Magnussen switched to full wets. Perez soon pitted again as well, switching his intermediates to full wets.

Many drivers still went off with Perez scratching the barriers at La Piscine while Magnussen had to reverse out of the run-off track at Ste. Devote, clearly having been somewhat optimistic about the grip levels on the full wets.

With 15 laps remaining, rain reduced a but it was clearly very slippery with puddles around the track. Three laps later drivers were reporting it was drying quite quickly.

While Verstappen built up a comfortable lead to Alonso, the Spaniard also enjoyed a 15s advantage over Ocon. Hamilton followed Ocon closely while Russell entered management mode in the last 10 laps after being unable to pass his team mate.

Nothing much happened in the closing stages as everybody focused on managing the inters towards the finish line. This meant the third consecutive Red Bull victory at Monaco, yet another podium finish for Fernando Alonso and a first podium for Alpine and Ocon this season.


11Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt781:48:51.98025
214Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes78+27.921s18
331Esteban OconAlpine Renault78+36.990s15
444Lewis HamiltonMercedes78+39.062s13
563George RussellMercedes78+56.284s10
616Charles LeclercFerrari78+61.890s8
710Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault78+62.362s6
855Carlos SainzFerrari78+63.391s4
94Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes77+1 lap2
1081Oscar PiastriMclaren Mercedes77+1 lap1
1177Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari77+1 lap0
1221Nyck De VriesAlphatauri Honda Rbpt77+1 lap0
1324Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari77+1 lap0
1423Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes77+1 lap0
1522Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Honda Rbpt76+2 laps0
1611Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt76+2 laps0
1727Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari76+2 laps0
182Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes76+2 laps0
1920Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari70DNF0
NC18Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes53DNF0

Note - Hamilton scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race.