Monaco GP: Verstappen charges to maiden Monte Carlo victory

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen converted a front-row start for a first Monaco win and the lead of the drivers’ championship. 

Max Verstappen put in an exemplary performance to take his first win around the streets of Monte Carlo.

After Charles Leclerc’s DNS, Verstappen became the de-facto pole-sitter. After cutting off Valtteri Bottas at the start, Verstappen drove a faultless race to leave with the win and championship lead.

Verstappen’s euphoria was in stark contrast to Leclerc’s heartbreak. After an early morning check, Ferrari decided that the gearbox was ready to race. After his first lap out of the garage, Leclerc’s heart sank. A left driveshaft failure meant that Leclerc would not lead the grid to green at his home race.

Valtteri Bottas pressured Verstappen early on, then a disastrous pit-stop where the front-right tyre refused to come off cost him everything. Another solid weekend from Bottas got destroyed with a chaotic, cartoon-like pit-stop.

His misfortune was Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris’ good fortune. The former teammates snagged second and third, Ferrari and McLaren’s battle continued as both teams leave with a good haul of points.

Lewis Hamilton endured a difficult afternoon as his speed and strategy got compromised. Hamilton attempted an undercut on Gasly; instead, it went badly wrong. Gasly’s stunning in-lap gave him track position after his pitstop; meanwhile, Vettel and Perez ran long to overcut Hamilton.

At the end of the pit cycle, Hamilton came out still stuck behind Gasly and he got passed by Vettel and Perez. A late charge for the fastest lap provided some consolation on a miserable weekend for the Brit.

The points positions got littered with drivers who shone in the race. Sergio Perez fought back to take fourth in his best race for the Red Bull team. Sebastian Vettel reminded everyone of his speed as he snatched fifth, one spot ahead of Gasly, who once again out-classed his rookie teammate in the Alpha Tauri.

Despite clouting the barriers at the Swimming Pool, Lance Stroll’s long stint on the hard tyre paid dividends as he came home in eighth. Stroll finished ahead of Esteban Ocon and Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo.

The despair continued for Daniel Ricciardo as he got lapped by Lando Norris on the way to a pointless finish. Likewise for Fernando Alonso as both of these former winners struggled on the streets.

Ultimately, the day belonged to Red Bull and Max Verstappen. It is the first time in the turbo-hybrid era that they lead both championships.

Monaco gets billed as ‘Monte Carlo, or bust’ for Red Bull; it might be the first step on the road to the championship jackpot.

Final Classification

1 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA 78 1hr38m56.820s 25
2 55 Carlos Sainz FERRARI 78 +8.968s 18
3 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN MERCEDES 78 +19.427s 15
4 11 Sergio Perez RED BULL RACING HONDA 78 +20.490s 12
5 5 Sebastian Vettel ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES 78 +52.591s 10
6 10 Pierre Gasly ALPHATAURI HONDA 78 +53.896s 8
7 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 78 +68.231s 7
8 18 Lance Stroll ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES 77 +1 lap 4
9 31 Esteban Ocon ALPINE RENAULT 77 +1 lap 2
10 99 Antonio Giovinazzi ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 77 +1 lap 1
11 7 Kimi Räikkönen ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 77 +1 lap 0
12 3 Daniel Ricciardo MCLAREN MERCEDES 77 +1 lap 0
13 14 Fernando Alonso ALPINE RENAULT 77 +1 lap 0
14 63 George Russell WILLIAMS MERCEDES 77 +1 lap 0
15 6 Nicholas Latifi WILLIAMS MERCEDES 77 +1 lap 0
16 22 Yuki Tsunoda ALPHATAURI HONDA 77 +1 lap 0
17 9 Nikita Mazepin HAAS FERRARI 75 +3 laps 0
18 47 Mick Schumacher HAAS FERRARI 75 +3 laps 0