What will he choose? Abdominal failure? Diving? Side tipping? fall backwards? Anyone who wins at Red Bull in Monaco traditionally jumps into the team’s hospitality pool. So now Sergio Perez. He decided to do a somersault. The 32-year-old was visibly impressed at the ceremony, after his third Formula 1 victory spoke of a dream come true and the significance of that success beyond a personal level: “I am the only Mexican driver or even a Latin American driver at the start,” he said. It shows how hard it is for us to get into this sport.” He’s proud of that.
However, it wasn’t decided until late whether he would remain the winner. Ferrari lodged a protest because both Red Bulls crossed the line at the exit during their second stop. At 9:35 pm, the hosts announced: Perez remained in first place, Max Verstappen in third. The Mexican is now third in the standings, 15 points behind leader Verstappen (125). In euphoria, he was caught gossiping about his contract that he signed too soon. At the press conference, Perez said, “I meant the champagne bottle.” Especially laughter from his teammate Verstappen.
Carlos Sainz could not speak directly. He had to catch his breath before he could answer former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard’s questions after the race. “I felt like we did everything we had to do,” the Spaniard finally said. “A terrible lap behind a wrap car cost me the race today. So I’m sure you can understand my frustration.”
Sainz led the race after the Ferrari driver chose to reverse his team’s advice in favor of splashes and not switch to intermediate tires because he wanted to wait until it was dry enough. He was convinced of the same strategy. Only: After a pit stop, he lost valuable time behind Nicholas Latifi at slower Williams. Sergio Perez was able to use this shortly after the pit stop to climb to the top. Sainz couldn’t get past Red Bull and thus took the trophy for the fourth time in the seventh race of the season – but he still has to wait for his first victory in Formula 1.
Max Verstappen has an impressive record so far: he’s won every race he’s completed this season – twice retired. Monaco is an exception with third place, but the world champion was still in high spirits. At the press conference he laughed a lot and joked. Concept. He started fourth and finished third. Thus, he extended his lead over Charles Leclerc in the general standings to nine points: “I didn’t expect that last night.”
The rain and accompanying tire change opened up new opportunities, and his team’s supremacy was added to that. The timing of the stops is well chosen. “Today was really about strategy and making the right decisions,” Verstappen said. “And I must say the team was very comfortable and at its best. There were no doubts. It was a good job.”
On Saturday, the Dutchman was asked if he would perform a rain dance. He said, “I will do that.” “I need that now of course.” A few minutes before the actual start of the race, the sky was falling – and the Gran Prix took a proper course for Verstappen.
Charles Leclerc was finally on his way to success in his home race, as he never finished here in the first class. It looked like number one, despite the rain mess. But then, a mistake in strategy cost the 24-year-old to win. Ferrari reacted too late on the drying track. Perez literally overtook Monegasque in the pits with an early stop on the Intermediates. Then Ferrari took the full risk and only three laps later brought the drivers in to give them slick tyres. In Leclerc’s case, that was apparently not the intention – but Monegasse had already switched to the pit lane when his race engineer called him to stay on the track. “What the hell are we doing?” Leclerc cursed on the radio. A week ago in Barcelona, a motor that cost him the win malfunctioned.
“Without words. The season is long, but we can’t do such a thing,” he said over the radio to his team, then said, “It was a damn disaster today. The victory was clearly in our hands, we put in the performance, we were everything.” He could not understand the required decisions and explanations, and also criticized the connection. This finding is “particularly distressing” here. Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has admitted errors in assessments and decisions. The Scuderia now has two weeks until the Azerbaijan Grand Prix to analyze.
Before the Grand Prix, Mick Schumacher was worried about when he would score points in Formula 1 for the first time. It was clear that this would not happen in Monaco, where overtaking is very difficult – and after that it just didn’t matter at all. The 23-year-old had a serious accident, Haas broke in two, and there were wrecks everywhere on the track. He lost control of his car and crashed into the gang after several laps. Schumacher was quick to explain everything and later said that the incident was “a bit unsettling” and that he “misjudged a little”.
For the Germans, it was the third crash in a season that lasted just seven races. At the end of March in Saudi Arabia, he hit barriers at more than 200 km/h in qualifying. Here, too, his car was completely lost, and the panic was so great that it turned out to be the same. In Miami he collided with Sebastian Vettel. Haas team boss Gunther Steiner gave words of caution: “It is not very satisfying to have another major accident. We have to see how we can move forward from here.” Vettel, the second German on the field, scored a point in the tenth.
George Russell is still Mister Steady. For the seventh time in seven races, the 24-year-old took the top five. He was the only one to score points at every Grand Prix in 2022, thus making a decisive contribution to Mercedes’ third place in the constructors’ championship with 134 points behind Red Bull (235) and Ferrari (199). In addition, the Englishman is again in a better position than his teammate Lewis Hamilton: the seven-time world champion took eighth place. “There were definitely a lot of positives from this race,” Russell concluded. “P5 and more next time I think.”
The Monaco Grand Prix recently was the kind of topic of conversation that the hosts probably didn’t like very much. There has been a lot of talk about whether this traditional grand prix – an integral part of Formula 1 since 1955 – should remain on the calendar. The contract ends this year. Drivers are interested in the unique challenge of the narrow track, but it rarely offers viewers the best entertainment. For now, it doesn’t look as though special flair will suffice with plenty of sparkle and history. Monte Carlo has now lost its exceptional status.
The fact that first class is booming all over the world does not make the negotiating situation any easier, especially since Monaco is said to have enjoyed special rights and paid lower entry fees. To what extent this Sunday strengthened the emirate’s position remains to be seen. In any case, this race has proven to be eventful.