Sergio Perez claimed victory at the Monaco Grand Prix after race in treacherous wet conditions, capturing moments of intense strategic decision-making as Team Red Bull staged a coup against Ferrari. He beat Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz to take second place while his team mate Charles Leclerc, who started from pole, finished fourth behind title rival Max Verstappen.
Mercedes also struggled as Lewis Hamilton and George Russell advanced slightly from their starting positions, finishing fifth and eighth respectively.
Perez’s first win in Monaco is his third and the second for Red Bull after capturing the flag in Baku last year. It’s exactly the comeback the Mexican had been hoping for, as he was unhappy that he was ready to join Verstappen in Spain and faltered in qualifying on Saturday. He is looking increasingly confident in his car and with a team that has meticulously implemented his plans in recent races.
Beating Ferrari on a track where the Scuderia seemed to have the upper hand was a major achievement, and most importantly saw Verstappen further advance his lead over Leclerc in the championship battle. He now has nine points while Perez is third, 15 points behind his teammate.
For Leclerc, not being able to turn the poles into a win would be a disappointment, but he at least ended the curse of Monaco for good: as of Sunday, he hadn’t finished any of his five races there.
It started raining heavily, delaying the start by 16 minutes meaning the cars started on fully wet tires and did two formation cycles behind the safety car before being brought to a stop as the rain increased.
Fortunately the rain subsided and five minutes into the two-hour countdown at 16:00 the race behind the safety car began.
A rolling start was called and the safety car pulled out at the start of lap three. Leclerc held the lead in treacherous conditions and poor visibility off the line. The track was tough, the rear grip was in high demand but it quickly started to dry out.
Leclerc was in his element in the mixed conditions and had a five-second lead over Sainz on lap 13, with Sainz helping the Red Bulls. Pierre Gasly, who took the intermediate tires early, quickly showed that it was the faster rubber with two passes.
Hamilton duly qualified on lap 16 of the middle round. Perez followed a later roll for the same. A clear dry streak appeared and Leclerc went into lap 19 but while stopping Perez put some quick laps on his new rubber and did a undercut. When Leclerc appeared he was behind the Mexican.
However, with Sainz staying out, Ferrari took the opportunity to hold his position long enough to switch to the full spots. They got the Spaniard on lap 21 and pitted Leclerc at the same time, and the team told him to stop and then stay outside – but it was too late. They took dry tires with Leclerc furious with the team for doubling down on stacking him behind his teammate and wasting time in the process.
Ferrari pulled the trigger and both Red Bulls immediately took the smooth rubber as well, but the damage was done. Verstappen came third, ahead of Leclerc, with Pérez ahead of Sainz. Perez’s early move to Inter and Ferrari’s failed hiatus was crucial.
The safety car was then deployed on lap 27 when Mick Schumacher crashed poorly in the pool, luckily unharmed after a violent rear-end collision when he lost his rear end. After three more laps, unsurprisingly, the race was halted to fix the hurdles.
The race resumed 20 minutes later on lap 31, with 40 minutes and 58 laps remaining for the full points award. Perez held the lead from the start and on a dry track and with the new tires the finish developed into the expected show.
The front four were caught passing wrap cars in the final laps and awaited death in a tense, tight race. Under a lot of pressure, Perez kept his nerve with a confident precision to score a victory he cherished while Ferrari was amazed at how he let it slip away.
Lando Norris finished sixth for McLaren, and Fernando Alonso seventh for Alpine. Valtteri Bottas finished ninth for Alfa Romeo and Sebastian Vettel tenth for Aston Martin.