MONACO: Max Verstappen showcased his exceptional driving skills in the rain to secure a memorable victory at the Monaco Grand Prix. Despite the challenging weather conditions, the top three drivers on the starting grid maintained their positions until the chequered flag, with Verstappen emerging as the triumphant winner.
Fernando Alonso, who made a strategic pit stop for slick tires followed by intermediates, managed to hold onto P2, maintaining a considerable advantage over his former teammate Esteban Ocon.
Verstappen, equipped with medium tires, got off to a strong start ahead of Alonso, who defended his position from Ocon at the first corner. Carlos Sainz fended off Lewis Hamilton to stay in fourth place, with Charles Leclerc close behind.
In the mid-pack, Nico Hulkenberg displayed impressive skills as he gained four positions, albeit at the expense of Lance Stroll, who dropped back by four places.
Unfortunately, Hulkenberg’s progress ended after he picked up a puncture during a battle with Logan Sargeant and Stroll at Mirabeau. Meanwhile, Zhou Guanyu and Sergio Perez, from the back of the field, opted to make pit stops.
Verstappen showcased his exceptional pace, maintaining a comfortable lead over Alonso, while Ocon battled hard to retain third place against Sainz. The Ferrari driver attempted a divebomb manoeuvre in the tunnel, resulting in a collision that damaged his front wing.
Despite his team standing ready with a replacement wing, Sainz continued without pitting. Further down the track, Leclerc was in hot pursuit of Hamilton for fifth place, with the Mercedes driver encountering debris from Sainz’s damaged wing.
The duo faced pressure from Pierre Gasly and George Russell, running just three seconds behind. At the front, Verstappen began to widen the gap between himself and Alonso, managing a lead of 10 seconds.
Ocon maintained a solid third place, with Sainz persistently urged by his team to pit to undercut Ocon. However, Sainz opted to stay off track, causing frustration for the Alpine driver.
Approaching the race’s halfway point, Alonso began to close the gap on Verstappen, benefiting from his hard tires as the Red Bull driver encountered traffic.
Hamilton, like Verstappen, pitted first among the top ten, rejoining the race in eighth place. Ocon followed suit, with Sainz trailing behind the Frenchman.
Sergio Perez’s challenging weekend continued as he attempted to follow Verstappen while lapping Stroll.
However, the Aston Martin driver shut the door on Perez, forcing him to cut the chicane. Although Perez regained the position from Stroll, he then collided with Kevin Magnussen, breaking his front wing.
Stroll reclaimed the position in the ensuing melee, while Perez headed to the pits for a new wing. A few laps later, Stroll encountered another incident, colliding with the back of Magnussen.
Verstappen, struggling to maintain his pace on medium tires while keeping Alonso at bay, expressed his concerns to the Red Bull team.
The local favourite, Leclerc, also faced difficulties and opted for a pit stop for fresh mediums on lap 45, rejoining the race around 10 seconds behind Hamilton on fresher tires.
Pierre Gasly followed suit, with Verstappen, Alonso, and Russell occupying the top three positions on lap 50.
Shortly after, drivers began reporting raindrops. Despite the treacherous track conditions, Verstappen, Alonso, and Russell decided to stay out, with others cutting the chicane and struggling to maintain control.
Red Bull advised Verstappen to continue if he could “survive” the wet sections. However, Alonso surprised everyone by pitting for medium tires, while Russell opted for intermediates.
Hamilton, Ocon, and Sainz also made pit stops. Sainz had an off-track excursion on his slick tires, sliding into the barriers and falling behind Leclerc.
Verstappen eventually made his way to the pits for intermediates, followed by Alonso, who swapped his slicks for intermediates.
Ferrari executed a double pit stop for both drivers, in which Sainz came off worse as he had to wait behind Leclerc while the crew serviced his car. Amidst the chaos, Verstappen emerged as the leader, with Alonso in second and Ocon in third.
Hamilton secured fourth place, with Russell and Leclerc trailing behind. Gasly, Sainz, Lando Norris, and Oscar Piastri completed the top ten, while Hamilton claimed the fastest lap point.
Verstappen’s victory secured his second Monaco Grand Prix win and extended his lead in the championship to 39 points.
Alonso’s impressive performance rewarded him with a runner-up result, while Ocon completed the podium, marking Alpine’s first podium finish of the 2023 season.