Flawless Verstappen wins Monaco Grand Prix 2023

Flawless Verstappen wins Monaco Grand Prix 2023

May 28, 2023

A clinical drive from reigning World Champion Max Verstappen saw him win the 2023 Monaco Grand Prix as he put in a sublime drive to cruise to a fourth win of the season. It was a second-place finish for Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, who picked up the best finish with his new team thus far, while Esteban Ocon scored his fourth career podium. 

The two Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished fourth and fifth, respectively, ahead of Charles Leclerc, Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz. The McLaren pair of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri rounded up the points places, finishing ninth and tenth, respectively. 

Verstappen’s win puts him 39 points clear in the Drivers’ Standings, and with Sergio Pérez finishing P17 and scoring no points, Alonso’s P2 finish puts him only 12 points behind the Mexican in third place. Hamilton’s P4 finish, meanwhile, along with the fastest lap point, sees him overtake Russell for fourth place.

In the Constructors’ Standings, Red Bull increase their lead to 129 points, while Mercedes are now in third place with 119 points, just one point behind Aston Martin. 

Verstappen kept Alonso at bay as he headed into Sainte Devote to lead the race off the line. While the top half of the grid kept it clean, Nico Hülkenberg, Alex Albon and Lance Stroll came together at the hairpin, which dropped Stroll down to P18 after the Williams driver pushed him into the wall.

While Verstappen led at the front, his teammate Sergio Pérez came into the pits on the opening for an early switch to the hard compounds. By Lap 5, Verstappen had opened up a 2.2-second gap to Alonso, with Esteban Ocon holding onto his third place from Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton. Hülkenberg, meanwhile, was handed an early five-second time penalty for his first lap contact. 

Verstappen was soon three seconds ahead of Alonso, with the top two dropping the rest of the grid behind as Ocon was over 11 seconds behind the race leader in P3.

On Lap 13, Carlos Sainz ran into the back of Ocon as he committed a driver error at the swimming pool chicane. Luckily, both the drivers were able to carry on, though Sainz’s front wing was broken and was just about hanging on.

With his front wing hanging on but him choosing to not come in to get it changed, Sainz was shown the black-and-white flag on Lap 17.

Kevin Magnussen, meanwhile, got past Logan Sargeant at Mirabeau to move up to P15. Sargeant lost two more places as Lance Stroll and Sergio Pérez got past the Williams driver to drop him to P18. Valtteri Bottas, in the meantime, overtook the other Williams of Albon at the hairpin to move up to P13. Both Williams drivers continued dropping places, as Hülkenberg went past Sargeant at the Nouvelle chicane. 

Verstappen, meanwhile, had built up a gap of over 11 seconds by Lap 26, while Ocon was a further six seconds behind.

Hamilton came in for his pit-stop on Lap 32 and re-joined in P8. Ocon also pitted in the following lap, which saw Sainz move up into the podium places, but a slow stop for the Alpine driver saw him re-join in P7.

Pérez ran into the back of Magnussen at the Nouvelle chicane and was then overtaken by Lance Stroll. His erroneous driving saw him having to pit for a second time, and he later re-joined in P19.

Up front, while Alonso had reduced Verstappen’s lead to under nine seconds by Lap 40, on worn out medium tyres, Verstappen was still managing to maintain a healthy speed. 

Home hero Leclerc came in for this pit-stop on Lap 45 and re-joined in P8, while Pierre Gasly, running in the top five for the longest time, came in for his first stop on Lap 48, leaving Verstappen, Alonso and George Russell as the only ones yet to pit among the top five.

While the much-anticipated rain did come on Lap 52, Verstappen had built up a gap of over 12 seconds to Alonso in P2. Stroll and Bottas were the first two to switch onto the intermediate compound. Alonso came in for his pit-stop on Lap 55 but switched to the dry medium tyres instead of the intermediates. Verstappen came in for his stop on the same lap as well, but the reigning World Champion switched to the intermediates. The heavy rain forced Alonso to pit again, while Ferrari had to double stack, with Sainz suffering the most. All the drivers had switched to intermediates except Kevin Magnussen, who was running on hard tyres. 

As the cars got out on the track on the intermediates, it was Verstappen leading from Alonso and Ocon, with Hamilton and Russell in P4 and P5, respectively, ahead of Leclerc.

Magnussen went into the barriers at Rascasse on Lap 58 but managed to carry on and headed into the pits to switch to the full wets. Russell, meanwhile, was handed a five-second penalty for unsafe release during his pit-stop.

With ten laps to go, Verstappen had built up a 22-second gap to Alonso, with Ocon a further 17 seconds behind the Aston Martin driver. Further down the grid, Yuki Tsunoda dropped out of the points places as both the McLaren drivers Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri made their way up into the points. 

Verstappen lapped his teammate on Lap 72 as Pérez pitted for a fifth time later on in the lap, switching to the intermediates. The Dutchman ultimately managed to hold on to his lead quite comfortably, with Alonso finishing second ahead of Alpine’s Ocon, who scored his third career podium.

Verstappen’s win gives him 39 wins for Red Bull, which makes him the team’s most successful driver with regards to victories, overtaking Sebastian Vettel’s record of 38.

What was supposed to be the season’s first triple-header became a double-header due to the Imola race being washed out. Racing will resume again next week in Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix. 

Aditya Chaudhuri

Hailing from the City of Joy, the things that bring me joy are cricket, a good non-tilt CS:GO session, F1 and movies.

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