Sergio Perez survived rain, red flag and late charge to win F1 Monaco GP with Max Verstappen third behind Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
What looked like a dry start turned into a wet one with the FIA delaying the F1 Monaco GP start with the rain pouring down. The race director gave them time to change the tyres to full wet as the rain started getting heavier as predicted.
After a delay, the formation started behind the safety car but with the rain getting heavier, the race was red-flagged. After a long delay, the race finally got going behind the safety car. With the cars behind the safety car, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll had a wall brush.
He had a puncture to dive into the pits while Williams’ Nicholas Latifi had a moment at the hairpin. There was an unsafe release situation from Aston Martin side as Latifi, Stroll and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly pitted to switch onto the intermediate tyres.
After few laps, Haas’ Mick Schumacher also pitted for intermediates, as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc led the F1 Monaco GP from Carlos Sainz, Red Bull pair of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen and McLaren’s Lando Norris in the Top 5.
Mercedes’ George Russell was sixth with teammate Lewis Hamilton eighth behind Alpine’s Fernando Alonso. His teammate Esteban Ocon passed Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel for ninth. With Gasly starting to set a good time on intermediates, others started to pit.
His tyres tarted to come alive as he started to pass the cars ahead on the wet compound, but the leaders had the plan to switch onto the dry tyres rather than choose the intermediates. That didn’t work out though as they switched to intermediates.
Sainz stayed out to switch onto dry tyres but Perez caught him up while Leclerc and Verstappen started to catch them too. Russell remained out to be fifth with Norris, Alonso, Hamilton, Ocon and Stroll in the Top 10.
But there was contact between Hamilton and Ocon when the Brit stopped for intermediate tyres and the Frenchman didn’t. The former tried a move on the latter at Turn 1 but the two collided as the Mercedes continued to chase for few laps after that.
He finally got ahead in the pits as there was drama up front as well. Both Ferrari and Red Bull drivers went for a double stack to switch onto the hard tyres. The gamble for Sainz almost paid off but Perez pounced onto the lead due to his intermediate stint.
While Sainz didn’t get the lead but he got ahead of his teammate Leclerc, who lost three places to be fourth behind Verstappen. The Monegasque was furious but both Red Bull drivers were in a spot of bother for pit exit situation.
Russell jumped Norris for fifth with Alonso seventh, Hamilton eighth, Ocon ninth and Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas in the Top 10. The race was nuetralised with Virtual Safety Car which changed to full Safety Car for a crash for Haas’ Mick Schumacher.
He lost control near Swimming Pool section and smashed onto the barrier where his car cut into half with the rear cut. This was a double retirement for Haas after a water pressure leak on Kevin Magnussen’s car. The Dane had just stopped a couple of laps ago, as the F1 Monaco GP was red-flagged for the barrier to be repaired.
Post red flag:
With the barrier repaired, the F1 Monaco GP started under rolling start. The grid had a mixture of tyres with some on medium tyres and some on hard where Perez led Sainz, Verstappen, Leclerc, Russell, Norris, Alonso, Hamilton, Ocon and Bottas in the Top 10.
It was train at the front but Alonso slowed the pack behind him where he was lapping nearly 3s slower than others, holding up Hamilton, Ocon, Bottas and others behind. The Frenchman had a 5s penalty for causing a collision with Hamilton earlier in the race.
As Albon retired with a mechanical issue, Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu had a massive save on the exit of the tunnel where he nearly collided with AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda. Inside the Top 10, Alonso finally started to increase his pace as Norris took a free stop.
The race at the front started to close in with Perez struggling with tyres. That brought Sainz, Verstappen and Leclerc into the game with the four stuck together within a second of each other which raised the intensity of the grand prix in closing stages.
Despite some moments, Perez held off Sainz to win F1 Monaco GP with Verstappen and Leclerc in the Top 4 where they were separated by 1.4s. Russell was fifth from Norris with Alonso in seventh from Hamilton, Ocon and Bottas in the Top 10.
With the penalty to Ocon, Bottas moved up to ninth with Vettel making it into the Top 10. He dropped to 12th behind Gasly, with McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo in 13th, Stroll 14th, Latifi 15th, Guanyu 16th and Tsunoda 17th – where everyone from Latifi to Tsunoda ended up a lap down.
DNF: Albon, Schumacher, Magnussen.
UPDATE: Ferrari has lodged a protest against both Perez and Verstappen for ‘allegedly failing to stay to the right of the yellow line at pit exit’. During the grand prix, the Mexican was noted for this incident, while an unclear video of the Dutchman was aired but no other notification was shared post that. Team is expected to meet the stewards at 19:15 local time.
More to come