Photo: Red Bull Media House

F1 Monaco GP: Verstappen takes victory in the principality

Max Verstappen has won the Monaco Grand Prix!

The Dutch driver has his second win in the principality, after managing his way through a hectic dry/wet race.

It was chaos into turn one as the twenty cars found their way into Saint Devote. Pole-sitter Max Verstappen held his lead ahead of Fernando Alonso whilst three drivers pitted at the end of the lap: Sérgio Perez, Zhou Guanyu and Nico Hülkenberg. Lance Strolled reported damage after contact was made with Alex Albon on the way to the Fairmount Hairpin.

On lap three, George Russell was noted by the stewards for an incorrect starting position but wasn’t penalised, whilst Hülkenberg received a five-second penalty for his collision on the opening lap. Strategy was a huge part of the race, with a mix of medium and hard tyres fitted to different cars at the start. It was a game of cat and mouse throughout between front-row starters Verstappen and Alonso.

The first drama of the race occurred when Carlos Sainz attempted a move on Esteban Ocon into the Nouvelle Chicane, but the former went straight into the back of the Alpine and lost his front-wing endplate. Alonso then thought he had a puncture after driving over Sainz’s debris, but it was a false alarm.

A flurry of overtakes came on lap 19 when Logan Sargent’s tyres started to lose their grip, and he was overtaken by four cars to drop down to 18th place; the American driver was unable to maintain any sort of battle before pitting. A few laps later, the frontrunners on hard tyres began to report graining which continued the strategy battle. Race leader Verstappen was not happy with his tyres before he caught up to the back of the pack.

The important pit-stops started on lap 31, with Lewis Hamilton pulling the undercut on Sainz, and Ocon coming in too for a slightly slower stop. There was drama at the Nouvelle Chicane again a few laps later, with Pérez damaging his front wing following a collision with Hülkenberg. It was a disappointing day for the Mexican driver as he had to pit again for a replacement wing. Lance Stroll was the next driver to make contact with a Haas, this time it was with Kevin Magnussen at the final corner. The Canadian driver received the black and white flag.

The threat of rain carried on throughout, with the teams having to carefully decide when to pit and perfect their strategies. As Verstappen still led on lap 48 with very used medium tyres, the Red Bull pit wall informed him of ‘pockets of rain’ that were on their way to the track. George Russell then reported light rain in turn three to really spice the race up. It then got heavier, as the cars slid around the hairpin and went straight on at the chicane.

Alonso then pitted for dry tyres even when the majority of sector two was treacherous. However, the rest of the track was still dry, so it all went up in the air as far as strategy was concerned. Verstappen then boxed for intermediate tyres after hitting the barrier before the tunnel, all whilst Alonso was still on mediums. By lap 56, every driver was on the green-striped intermediate tyres as the track was soaked.

Stroll then crashed into the barriers and was out of the race on lap 57. Kevin Magnussen hit the barriers a lap later at the penultimate corner, then boxed for the full wet tyres, to get rid of his hards. The stewards were then back in action, handing a five-second penalty to George Russell for an unsafe re-join which caused Pérez to crash into him.  Hülkenberg then received a ten-second penalty for failure to serve a previous one correctly.

The race then calmed down along with the rain, with both McLarens passing Yuki Tsunoda to get into the points. Both Mercedes drivers had improved their standings at the final stages, in fourth and fifth. With six laps remaining, Verstappen led by 25 seconds with Alonso in second and Ocon in third, the eventual podium.

Magnussen retired with three laps left before the remaining drivers crossed the line to conclude a dramatic Monaco Grand Prix.

Formula One heads to Spain next week, with the drivers first hitting the track on Friday in Barcelona.

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