Next start-finish victory: Dominant Max Verstappen wins on the narrow Monaco circuit. © Luca Bruno/AP/dpa
Max Verstappen wins the classic. In Monaco, he also drove a lonely race in the wet. Teammate Sergio Perez has to fear for second place in the World Championship. Fernando Alonso pushes from behind.
Monaco - After his fabulous lap to the first Monaco pole, Max Verstappen did not let a race slide on the Côte d'Azur stop him.
The 25-year-old Dutchman dominated the competition almost at will on the Red Bull's alleged weak track in all weather conditions and won the Grand Prix in the Principality. With a lead of almost half a minute, Verstappen relegated Formula 1 veteran Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin to second place. The Frenchman Esteban Ocon from Alpine was allowed into the prince's box for the award ceremony in third place on Sunday.
For local hero and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, the home curse continued: After a grid penalty, the only Monegasque in the field did not get beyond sixth place, he also had to admit defeat to the Mercedes duo with record world champion Lewis Hamilton (4th) and George Russell (5th).
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In the world championship standings, Verstappen took another step towards a third title in a row with his fourth win of the season in the sixth Grand Prix. Especially since teammate Sergio Perez did not get beyond 16th place just ahead of Nico Hulkenberg (17th) after an unfortunate qualification in the race. Perez is now only twelve points ahead of Alonso. Verstappen, who has now also taken more victories for Red Bull than Sebastian Vettel (38) during his successful period with the Austrian team, on the other hand, has a whopping 39 points more than Perez.
At the finish line, the winner was treated to the traditional honking of the countless yachts anchored off Monte-Carlo. Whether Brazil's soccer star Neymar, FIFA boss Gianni Infantino, pop icon Kylie Minogue or Spiderman actor Tom Holland - after the thrilling qualifying, in which Verstappen prevailed at the last minute, they also got to see the problem side of the narrow and only 3.337-kilometer circuit in the race.
Alonso, who won in Monaco in 2006 and 2007 and has been waiting for his 33rd career victory for ten years, failed to materialise. The 41-year-old two-time world champion from Spain just couldn't get close to the two-time world champion from the Netherlands. Verstappen headed for the 2000th lead lap of his career on the very first lap.
He also controlled the action on the track, which was still dry at the time. Alonso didn't even get into the artificial overtaking window of less than a second, he couldn't activate the DRS overtaking aid. Behind him, Ocon was unable to keep up with the pace.
Rain makes for tactical games
He, as well as Leclerc's colleague Carlos Sainz and Hamilton, had benefited from the fact that local hero Leclerc simply remains unlucky in Monaco. After blocking an opponent in qualifying, he had to drop three grid positions from third to sixth, the others moved up accordingly. Leclerc's chances of his first victory at his home race were gone before the red lights went out.
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When the race started, it came, as it often does in Monaco - not really much happened. Overtaking is practically impossible on the track. Alonso was briefly worried about the air conditions of a front tyre, the pits calmed the Spaniard quickly.
Only the recurring rain forecasts kept the excitement for action high. Sometimes in twenty minutes, sometimes in five to ten, it should dribble. And then, around lap 52, light precipitation set in. Now the question arose: How much would it rain and when would the tires have to be changed? The slightest slip has the biggest consequences. And it rained more. Alonso came to the pits, then Verstappen, he had the mixed tyres fitted and also survived the only delicate phase in his 39th career victory.
Perez without a chance after qualifying accident
In 2021, he had already won in his adopted country. This time at the 80th edition of the Grand Prix - the first took place in 1929 on an almost identical circuit - he had proven his dominance from the outset, despite misgivings.
Team-mate Perez, a two-time winner of the season, had destroyed all hopes of himself with an early crash in qualifying and had to start from last place on the grid. Instead of attacking first place in the standings - Verstappen was 14 points ahead of the Mexican before the race - he now has to fear for second place. Because Alonso also got into the mood for his home race next weekend. At the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in May 2013, he celebrated his last Formula 1 victory. Dpa