Sergio Pérez triumphs in Monaco GP as Charles Leclerc fumes at botched stop

Sergio Pérez took victory at the Monaco Grand Prix after a race in treacherous wet conditions, decided in moments of intense strategic decision-making where his Red Bull team pulled off a coup against Ferrari. He beat Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz into second place while the Spaniard’s teammate Charles Leclerc, who had started from pole, managed only fourth behind his title rival Max Verstappen.

Mercedes also struggled, with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell making little progress from their starting positions, finishing in fifth and eighth respectively.

Pérez’s first win at Monaco is the third of his career and his second for Red Bull, having taken the flag at Baku last year. It is just the comeback the Mexican would have wanted, unhappy at being told to move over for Verstappen in Spain and having crashed in qualifying on Saturday. He looks more and more confident in his car and with a team who have been executing their plans with precision over recent races.

To take victory over Ferrari on a track where the Scuderia had looked to have the upper hand was quite an achievement and, crucially, has ensured Verstappen has further extended his lead over Leclerc in the championship fight. He now enjoys a nine-point advantage, while Pérez is in third place, 15 points behind his teammate.

For Leclerc, the inability to convert pole into a win will be a disappointment but he has at least finally ended his Monaco curse: until Sunday he had failed to finish in any of his five races there.

Rain had begun falling heavily, delaying the start delaying by 16 minutes and meaning the cars opened on full wet tyres, doing two formation laps behind the safety car, before it was stopped as the downpour grew increasingly heavy.

Fortunately the rain eased and five minutes after the two-hour race limit timer began counting down at 4pm, the race opened behind the safety car.

A rolling start was declared and the safety car came in on the opening of lap three. Leclerc held his lead off the line in treacherous conditions with visibility poor. The track was tricky, with rear grip at a premium, but soon began to dry.

Charles Leclerc waits during the chaotic pit stop.
Charles Leclerc in his car during the chaotic pit stop. Photograph: Christian Bruna/AP

Leclerc was in his element in the mixed conditions and had opened a five-second gap to Sainz by lap 13, with Sainz backing up the two Red Bulls. Pierre Gasly, who took the intermediate tyres early, soon demonstrated they were the quicker rubber with two passes.

Hamilton duly pitted for the intermediates on lap 16. Pérez followed a lap later for the same. A clear dry line had emerged and Leclerc came in on lap 19 but while he stopped Pérez put in some very quick laps on his new rubber and made the undercut work. When Leclerc emerged he was behind the Mexican.

Sainz, however, stayed out, Ferrari taking the chance on him holding his place long enough to change to full slicks. They pulled the Spaniard in on lap 21 and Leclerc pitted at the same time, the team calling for him stop, then to stay out – but too late. They took dry tyres with Leclerc furious at the team for double stacking him behind his teammate and losing time in the process.

Ferrari had pulled the trigger and both Red Bulls immediately took slick rubber too but the damage was done. Verstappen emerged in third in front of Leclerc with Pérez leading from Sainz. Pérez’s early switch to inters and Ferrari’s botched stop had been crucial.

The safety car was then deployed on lap 27 when Mick Schumacher crashed heavily at the swimming pool, fortunately he was unhurt after a big shunt when he lost the rear. After three further laps the race was unsurprisingly stopped to repair the barriers.

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Racing resumed 20 minutes later on lap 31 with 40 minutes remaining and 58 laps required for full points to be awarded. Pérez held his lead from a rolling start and on a dry track and on fresh tyres the finale turned into the procession that had been expected.

The front four closed up as they passed lapped cars in the final laps and were nose to tail in some tense, close racing at the death. Under great pressure Pérez held his nerve with confident precision to seal a win he will treasure, while Ferrari were left wondering how they had let this one get away from them.

Lando Norris was sixth for McLaren, Fernando Alonso seventh for Alpine. Valtteri Bottas was ninth for Alfa Romeo and Sebastian Vettel in 10th for Aston Martin.