Perez wins Monaco as Red Bull strategy pays off

By Steven De Groote on

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez has won the Monaco Grand Prix, having to fend off Sainz who blamed a lapped car for losing the race. Verstappen finished third while Leclerc was a disappointed fourth after communication issues with his team.

A shower just before the start of the race triggered a delay of the start by 15 minutes. Further rain during that time made race control make the decision to mandate wet weather tires. The formation lap got going behind the safety car, but soon more rain came down, leading to a return to the pits for everyone and a red flag for another 40 minutes.

One hour after the scheduled starting time, the safety car went out again with all drivers behind it with the intention to get the race going after two laps. In the first lap out of the pits though, some already were caught out as Stroll and Latifi both hit the barriers and had to return the pits. Stroll with a right rear puncture, Latifi with a damaged front wing. Gasly pittted one lap later and switched to intermediates as Latifi did on his stop.

The safety car nonetheless left the track for a rolling start with a surprising lack of incidents. On lap 6, after some hot moments, Gasly then recorded the fastest lap, triggering Schumacher, Vettel and Tsunoda to pit and make the change as well. Gasly’s pace advantage led to him passing Zhou after several laps of trying at Mirabeau. By then, Vettel had closed the 8s deficit to join this Ricciardo, Gasly, Zhou bunch in 12th to 14th position.

Two laps later, Gasly made it past Ricciardo at the swimming pool and went on to cut 1.5s in the first sector alone on Magnussen who was 6s ahead. Gasly continued that performance to set the fastest lap, slashing Magnussen’s and Bottas’s advantage to just 2s, a gap that was closed half a lap later.

While in first four remained reasonably close to one another, Perez was the first of them to pit, changing to intermediates on lap 16, just like what Hamilton had done the lap before. The next lap, Sainz was called in, but after an argument with the driver he was told “stay out, stay out”.

One lap later, Leclerc and Verstappen pitted for a switch to intermediates. Perez meanwhile had set the fastest lap and thereby moved up into second, nearly 5s ahead of Charles Leclerc and an extra 6.5s on Verstappen.

Meanwhile Hamilton got involved in a thrilling battle for 8th with Ocon. Ocon, still on full wets was a whole lot slower and Hamilton could practically go aside of the Alpine but was unable to make it past until Ocon finally pitted on lap 21. The Alpine driver switched to hard slicks, , just like both Ferraris had just done before him. However, it wasn’t without antics as some miscommunication saw Leclerc come straight in while his engineer yelled “stay out, stay out”. The loss wasn’t dramatic, but when both Red Bulls and Sainz pitted one lap later, Leclerc found himself fourth, behind Verstappen while Perez led just ahead of Sainz.

By lap 23, everybody but the Astons had switched to slicks. They did so in the next few laps, undoubtedly losing some time as slick runners were improving the fastest lap quickly.

In front, the gaps reduced quickly, leaving Leclerc in 4th being just 2.9s behind Perez in 1st. All four were incredible close while also very busy to get past lapped cars.

The show was brutally cut moments later when Mick Schumacher crashed heavily just past the swimming pool, somewhat similar to Ricciardo’s spin and crash in free practice. Mick was unhurt and stepped out quickly, but his Haas car was again split in two with the gearbox breaking off of the rest of the car.

The safety car was quickly brought out, only to complete two more laps before red flagging the race while it was obvious from the first moment that the race would have to be stopped to clear the car and put the tecpro barrier in the right place.

At 17:15 local time everybody got rolling again with a rolling start after two laps behind the safety car. This time, about half of the field was on medium tires, the rest on hards. In the top 10, Sainz, Leclerc, Norris and Bottas continued on used hards as the others chose for fresh medium Pirelli tires.

Predictably there were no overtakes though Perez badly locked up his front left at Mirebeau while Hamilton seemed very eager to make it past Alonso for 7th. The latter was told to manage his pace as much as possible and was therefore focused more on keeping Hamilton behind than staying with Norris. The latter went on to set the fastest lap of the race.

The Spaniard’s pace was such that Norris could pit for a fresh set of mediums 15 minutes from the end. By then, Perez clearly struggled with his tires, allowing the cars behind him to easily follow him closely. None of them managed to make it past the Mexican though as in true Monaco style, DRS wasn’t enough and the barriers were just too close to make it past.

Results

Pos. No. Driver Car Laps Time Pts
1 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing Rbpt 64 1:56:30.265 25
2 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 64 +1.154s 18
3 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Rbpt 64 +1.491s 15th
4 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 64 +2.922s 12
5 63 George Russell Mercedes 64 +11.968s 10
6 4 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 64 +12.231s 9
7 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault 64 +46.358s 6
8 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 64 +50.388s 4
9 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 64 +52.525s 2
10 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 64 +53.536s 1
11 10 Pierre Gasly Alphatauri Rbpt 64 +54.289s 0
12 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 64 +55,644s 0
13 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes 64 +57.635s 0
14 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 64 +60.802s 0
15th 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes 63 +1 lap 0
16 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 63 +1 lap 0
17 22 Yuki Tsunoda Alphatauri Rbpt 63 +1 lap 0
NC 23 Alexander Albon Williams Mercedes 48 DNF 0
NC 47 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari 24 DNF 0
NC 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 19 DNF 0

Ocon finished 9th but a 5s time penalty for causing a collision with Lewis Hamilton dropped him to 12th
Lando Norris gained an extra point for setting the fastest lap of the race


GP Monacoprevious

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