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Verstappen survives treacherous conditions to win the Monaco Grand Prix

Verstappen survives treacherous conditions to win the Monaco Grand Prix

28-05-2023 15:51 Last update: 16:13

Max Verstappen has won the 2023 Monaco Grand Prix and now has more Grand Prix victories for Red Bull than Sebastian Vettel managed. The Dutchman's superb final sector in qualifying gave him pole position, but his extended stint on the medium tyre was almost equally impressive, allowing him to take a comfortable victory.

Rain created absolutely treacherous conditions for the last third of the race, giving drivers and strategists a headache. Despite trying new slicks in the wet conditions, Fernando Alonso hung on for second place, and Esteban Ocon converted his brilliant qualifying lap into P3. This comes after some harsh comments from Alpine's CEO about his team's performances of late. 

The first half of the Grand Prix was uneventful, even by Monaco standards. There were a few examples of contact throughout the field, including for Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez. But the threat and then the arrival of rain brought the Grand Prix to life. Verstappen started on the medium tyres and ended up using those for more than 50 laps despite serious graining. 

Perez's pursuit through the field proved too much of a challenge. Via various pitstops, the Mexican didn't manage to score points and therefore lost out massively in the World Championship standings. Verstappen added 25 points to his total and now looks to take more control of the title fight. 

Esteban Ocon provided a surprise in qualifying. He passed all of the challenges thrown at him during the race, including contact from Carlos Sainz to maintain P3. Mercedes got the jump on the Ferrari cars in what was enough for a strong points finish despite a penalty for Russell. Lewis Hamilton finished in P4. Leclerc finished in sixth, with Sainz further back in eighth. McLaren rounded out the points. 

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The Monaco Grand Prix

Last year’s race winner Perez started from the back row due to a crash in Q1. His teammate started from pole position, alongside Alonso. Esteban Ocon surprised everyone with a strong drive in qualifying to get his Alpine onto the second row. Charles Leclerc had a three-place grid penalty and started in sixth. Red Bull selected the medium tyres, with Aston Martin and Ferrari using the medium tyre. Ocon also chose medium. 

Alonso couldn’t challenge Verstappen off the start line due to the tyre difference and a strong start from the Dutchman. For the Spanish driver, it was all about defending Ocon. Perez leapfrogged the drivers who tangled on the opening lap and pitted for hard tyres. It was likely planned to see him to the conclusion of the race, but the Mexican picked up front wing damage and had to pit for a second time. After five laps, Verstappen had a 1.7-second lead from Alonso. Ocon dropped back a further four seconds, creating a buffer. 

Ocon’s gap opened up further, and Sainz behind started to get frustrated. He made a lunge into the chicane and slightly hit Ocon. The Ferrari driver had a broken front wing, but he stayed out. Verstappen caught traffic on lap 29 as the threat of tyre degradation and rain increased. The threat of rain extended the stints because no one wanted to lose track position and get caught out. At this stage of the race, Alonso’s tyre longevity advantage started to come in as the gap to Verstappen reduced. After clearing traffic, Verstappen started to open that gap back up.

But the threat of rain didn’t distract Hamilton and Mercedes, who were the first to pull the trigger and attempt the undercut. The Brit came back out in eighth place. Ocon had a slightly slow pit stop one lap later, and he came out in seventh. Sainz wasn’t able to jump the Frenchman when he pitted.

A hint of rain started around lap 50 and got stronger in sector two. The old slick tyres gave drivers a challenge to keep their cars under control. Lance Stroll and Valtteri Bottas rolled the dice and put on the intermediate tyres early, but the leaders decided the rain was too isolated for intermediates. So much so that Alonso pitted for dry medium tyres on lap 55. The rain spread, and Verstappen asked for intermediates following a touch with the barriers. Alonso’s adventure didn’t last long, and he came back in for intermediates without losing track position in P2.