Max Verstappen has beaten Fernando Alonso to take back-to-back wins at the Monaco Grand Prix by twenty-seven seconds. The Dutchman continued to show his dominance and control despite the changeable conditions and the risk of delaying the pit stop until the rain got heavier.
Verstappen looked to be cruising as the Red Bull driver eked out the tyres to coincide with the rain and retained the lead over Alonso, after Aston Martin missed the opportunity to pit Alonso for a set of dry tyres as the rain was intensifying. He had won the start and soon had a comfortable gap, as the Spaniard complained about a puncher. That suggested that the Aston Martin was not handling correctly, although his team informed him that all was well when checking tyre pressures.
Had Alonso been given treaded tyres, his stop, while Verstappen was still on untreated slicks, could have led to the Spaniard taking the lead. Though he had got closer during the middle part of the race the rain moved in and following the switch to inters with twenty laps to go, and Verstappen at first struggling to turn the tyres on, he bounced back to build a twenty seconds further advantage in the closing laps.
But his gamble would have been unlikely to pay off given the advantage Red Bull has this season. Verstappen perhaps took some unnecessary risks as he slid his Red Bull around the circuit despite holding a mighty lead, but the Dutchman escaped a few further brushes of the barrier as he drove into the distance.
It was another text book win for Verstappen, like he has done at so many races this year he steadily opened his lead and then managed the tyres up until conditions changed to switch to the intermediate tyre for the closing stages. Once again responding with great composure and showed his superb skills in wet conditions to ultimately extend his advantage.
Their had been speculation going into the weekend whether Red Bull could keep their winning streak going at a low-speed circuit, but the race highlighted the good all round car they have. Aston Martin did show glimpses of being closer through the combination of graining for Verstappen and traffic, but the gamble of staying out on slicks when the rain came with twenty-six laps to go.
While Aston Martin decided to pit Alonso, but wrongly for another set of slick tyres. Moments later the likes of Ocon and Hamilton came in for intermediates, and it quickly became clear, as the rain strengthened and spread around the circuit, Aston Martin had made the wrong call.
The victory extends Red Bull’s winning streak at the start of the season to six races, while Verstappen moves past Sebastian Vettel as the team’s all-time leading race winner with thirty-nine wins. It also sees Verstappen extend his championship lead to thirty-nine points over Perez.
Esteban Ocon was able to use Alpine’s strong for this weekend to take third, nearly ten seconds behind his former teammate Alonso. The Aston Martin driver losing out by having to do a second stop when the rain intensified, and he needed to switch to inters losing time to Verstappen along with Ocon.
Verstappen said, “It was quite a difficult one because we were on the medium and Fernando was on the hard. We didn’t want to go that long but we had to stay out with the rain coming. The tyres were graining and then the pace picked up a little bit but it was still very tricky to drive. Then it started to rain and we had to make the call to go onto the inters.
“It was incredibly slippery and when you are that far in the lead you don’t want to push to hard but also you don’t want to lose too much time so it’s quite difficult in that scenario. It’s super nice to win Monaco, and it’s super nice to win it in the way we did today with the weather and everything, to stay calm and bring it home.”
Alonso added, “We hoped to play the long game with the strategy but Max drove super well on the medium tyres to extend that first stint. We didn’t have any chance then the rain made things a bit complicated out there.”
Lewis Hamilton brought his Mercedes home fourth seventeen seconds ahead of teammate George Russell. Hamilton another driver to gain by eking out his medium tyres until the rain came, he then was comfortable ahead of his teammate and Mercedes proving the potential they have with their upgrades going to Barcelona next weekend.
Mercedes will be hoping that next weekend they will have a better understanding of their upgrades but will be pleased with the signs shown this weekend and another solid points haul.
They close to within a point of second-placed Aston Martin in the constructors’ standings, after Alonso’s team-mate Lance Stroll, who started in fourteenth after a disappointing qualifying, endured an even more torrid Sunday. Stroll retired from the race following heavy contact with a barrier in the wet conditions.
Charles Leclerc finished his home race sixth, the Ferrari driver nearly six seconds behind Hamilton. A decent result for him a second finish in Monaco but Ferrari also took the gamble of delaying his stop with the rain dropping him to sixth and teammate Carlos Sainz’s second stop dropped him to eighth.
Leclerc explained post race, “I don’t think this was a mistake. In those conditions, you have more probability of having a safety car, with so many cars on slicks in the rain. So we were waiting for a safety car by someone making a mistake. That didn’t happen and that’s it. With the benefit of hindsight, stopping before was the right decision”
Sainz was frustrated his first stop, as he had warned Ferrari who switched him to hard, saw him lose places to Ocon and Pierre Gasly. The Spaniard raging at the team that warned them about the threat of losing positions to the two Alpine’s if they stopped him when they did.
Ferrari’s intent was to force Alpine into pitting Ocon early to gain track position, but the Anglo-French team did not bite. On lap fifty-two, Sainz had his best shot at passing Ocon as the rain had emerged, but went off at the Nouvelle Chicane and had to give way.
Lando Norris finished ahead of his McLaren teammate Oscar Piastri, both drivers pulling of the same move on Yuki Tsunoda on consecutive laps as they moved into the points. First of the lapped cars. McLaren will be pleased to leave with both drivers in the points, but might feel Norris could have finished further up the field had it not been for a crash that limited his participation in the final part of qualifying.
Valtteri Bottas was eleventh with Nyck De Vries splitting the to Alfa Tauri’s, the Dutchman twenty-eight seconds behind Bottas and fourteen seconds ahead of Guanyu Zhou. Alex Albon was fourteenth ahead of Yuki Tsunoda.
Perez looks to have lost all control of the championship a point-less race and Verstappen taking back-to-back wins in Miami and Monaco circuits which should have been more suited to his driving style. The Mexican fourty-one seconds behind the sister Alpha Tauri.
Nico Hulkenberg was seventeenth, the German driver failed to serve a five-second penalty correctly and was given a ten second penalty. Logan Sargeant split the two Haas’s finishing four tenths behind Hulkenberg before he was given a five second penalty for speeding in the pit lane. Kevin Magnussen the final finisher in nineteenth.