Sergio Pérez took home his first-ever win in Monaco following a chaotic rainy race in the Principality that had everything: from a delayed start to red flags and massive crashes.
It was a double podium for Red Bull as championship leader Max Verstappen finished third behind Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
Home hero and pole sitter Charles Leclerc, who had never finished a race in Monaco before, did manage to finish this race, but his team’s strategy saw him lose his lead and finish a disappointing fourth.
Mercedes’ George Russell continued his run of finishing in the top five of every race this season, while McLaren’s Lando Norris finished sixth ahead of Alpine’s Fernando Alonso.
Lewis Hamilton could only manage an eighth-place finish ahead of his former teammate Valtteri Bottas, while four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel rounded off the points places following Esteban Ocon’s five-second penalty that dropped him out of the points.
It was a delayed start in Monaco due to the wet weather; the racing got underway an hour and ten minutes after the scheduled start.
Following the lengthy delay, racing finally got underway once the Safety Car came in on Lap 3 and Leclerc led from Sainz. Almost as soon as the race got underway, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and Williams’ Nicholas Latifi both hit barriers and had to pit in the first lap of racing.
Up ahead, Leclerc was already putting daylight between himself and Sainz in P2 by building a gap of over two seconds. AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was one of the first to change from the Wets to the Intermediates and, as Gasly came back out on the track, the French driver set the fastest lap on Lap 6, which was an indicator to the ones ahead of him, letting them know about the drying track conditions and tyre options.
By Lap 14, Leclerc had built up almost a five-second lead on Sainz, while Pérez was a couple of tenths ahead of his teammate Verstappen in P4.
Pérez was the first of the front-runners to come into the pit on Lap 17. He rejoined in P5, just ahead of George Russell. Ferrari immediately responded and Leclerc came in for his first pit stop on Lap 19.
Further behind, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton had a coming-together, with the Frenchman squeezing Hamilton into the barrier which saw him receive a five-second penalty for his actions.
The entire race changed on Lap 20, as Ferrari called in Sainz for his stop but surprisingly called Leclerc in as well for a double stack. This was due to lack of communication from the Ferrari pitwall which caused confusion as Leclerc was first asked to pit and then stay out, but Leclerc had already committed to the pit stop and couldn’t abort his stop. A double stack in the Ferrari pits meant Leclerc had to wait behind Sainz, which saw the pole-sitter rejoin on track in P4, behind both the Red Bulls and his own teammate Sainz. Leclerc made his frustrations known to the team over the radio.
Lap 28 saw the Haas of Mick Schumacher spin off and have a heavy impact into the barriers, splitting his car in two. Thankfully, Schuamcher walked away unhurt from the crash, but the damage to the barriers meant the race was red flagged.
Racing once again resumed on Lap 30, but given the delay and the ruling that a race must finish within its ‘three-hour’ window, the race was not going to run for the entire 77 scheduled laps.
As racing got underway, it was Pérez from Sainz and Verstappen, with Leclerc in fourth. The Race Control announced once racing resumed that there would be a further 33 minutes of racing.
As Pérez led up ahead, down the field there was a very long DRS queue thanks to Alpine’s Fernando Alonso. The two-time World Champion, who was in P7, was perfectly managing his tyres, but this meant he was not only holding up Hamilton behind him in P8 but a total of five drivers behind him, all of whom were within seconds of each other.
As the race entered the final 10 minutes, Sainz began to push Pérez, while Leclerc put the pressure on Verstappen, but both Red Bull drivers managed to hold on to their places and eventually Pérez managed to take his first-ever win in Monaco, holding off Sainz.
Pérez’s win and Ferrari’s strategy blunder means Verstappen now has a nine-point lead from Leclerc in second place, while Pérez is now just six points behind Leclerc and just fifteen off the championship lead.
A double Red Bull podium sees the Austrian team take a 36-point lead in the Constructors’, while Fernando Alonso’s seventh-place finish has put Alpine just one point behind Alfa Romeo in sixth place.
Ferrari and Leclerc will now embrace a two-week break to Baku. The Scuderia know that they have dropped the ball once again, and they can’t afford silly Sundays like Monaco anymore if they want to stay in the championship fight.
For Red Bull, it was more than what they would have expected heading into Sunday. The Austrian team will look to build on this performance as we head to Azerbaijan in two weeks’ time.