Verstappen survives rain chaos to take Monaco victory

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen survives a mid-race rain shower to take victory at the most famous street race on the Formula 1 calendar, the Monaco Grand Prix.

The double world champion converted pole position successfully despite having to contend with the wet weather among the final third of the race, extending his stint on the medium tyres to cover off the looming threat of rain.

With a dry start to proceedings, the medium-shod Verstappen covered off any threat of a pass from Fernando Alonso on the hards at the start, and immediately began to cement his lead early on with a strong opening salvo of laps to build a buffer.

Alonso was unable to match his fellow two-time champion’s laptimes in the first phase of the race, as worries over a puncture suggested that the Aston Martin was not handling correctly – although his team informed him that all was well when checking tyre pressures.

The lead reached 11.8 seconds by lap 25, although this had shrunk slightly by the 30th lap, with the gap 10.6 seconds over Alonso. At this moment had begun to close in on traffic as he was angling to lap the backmarkers – including teammate Sergio Perez.

This allowed Alonso to cut into Verstappen’s gap in an attempt to barge his way through the rearguard action, despite Perez doing his best to make his fellow Red Bull driver’s life easier.

The gap shrunk to 5.6 seconds, but then began to grow once more as Alonso was now firmly ensconced in the tailback as Verstappen had largely cleared it.

Radio reports over the severity of rain began to intensify, and Red Bull elected to hold off pitting Verstappen to ensure he was well placed to take advantage of a well-timed pitstop.

As light showers grew into heavier rainfall, particularly in the middle sector, which prompted a number of backmarkers to bolt on the intermediate compound.

Alonso then pitted on the lap 54, but Aston Martin made a decision to use mediums onto the Aston Martin just as the rain continued to fall.

This prompted him to pit again on the following lap, along with Verstappen, to collect the intermediates – but the gap was well over 20 seconds at this point.

Despite Alonso’s best efforts to close the gap over the remaining 20 laps, getting it down to 17.8 seconds at one point as Verstappen could not switch on his intermediate Pirellis as swiftly, the Red Bull driver grew in strength and continued to build his advantage.

Alonso’s arrears continued to increase and he eventually had to concede, finishing almost 28 seconds behind at the chequered flag.

Esteban Ocon converted his third position start into a third Formula 1 podium, despite coming under heavy pressure from Carlos Sainz in the early stages.

Sainz and Ferrari had been attempting to goad Alpine into pitting Ocon early to gain track position, but the team did not bite. On the lap 52, Sainz had his best shot at passing Ocon as the rain had emerged, but went off at the Nouvelle Chicane and had to give way.

Ocon then came under attack from Lewis Hamilton during the rain-hit phase of the race as the Mercedes duo had undercut the Ferraris, but the Alpine driver held firm to keep hold of a podium place.

Hamilton finished fourth ahead of team-mate George Russell, who copped a five-second penalty for rejoining the circuit unsafely at Mirabeau; having slid off, he reversed and went into the path of a hapless Sergio Perez, who made contact with the Mercedes.

Nonetheless, Russell’s advantage over Charles Leclerc ensured he kept fifth, as the home hero overtook team-mate Sainz as they were scrabbling around on medium tyres prior to their pitstop – and a double-stack to swiftly bring the SF-23s onto intermediates hurt Sainz further.

This put the Ferrari driver behind Pierre Gasly, whom he could not pass despite lingering behind his gearbox.

Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri completed the points, the McLaren duo making carbon-copy Turn 1 passes on Yuki Tsunoda on consecutive laps as the AlphaTauri driver struggled with his brakes.

Verstappen opened his championship lead to 39 points over Perez following a miserable race, where he pitted five times having started last, and ultimately finished P16. Not a good day for last year’s winner.

So congratulation to Max Verstappen in winning and becoming the most successful Red Bull driver with 39 race victories, one more than Sebastian Vettel. An impressive achievement in Formula 1.

Monaco Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:48:51.980
2 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +27.921s
3 Esteban Ocon Alpine +36.990s
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +39.062s
5 George Russell Mercedes +56.284s
6 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +61.890s
7 Pierre Gasly Alpine +62.362s
8 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +63.391s
9 Lando Norris McLaren +1 lap
10 Oscar Piastri McLaren +1 lap
11 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +1 lap
12 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri +1 lap
13 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo +1 lap
14 Alex Albon Williams +1 lap
15 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +2 laps
16 Sergio Perez Red Bull +2 laps
17 Nico Hulkenberg Haas +2 laps
18 Logan Sargeant Williams +2 laps
Kevin Magnussen Haas DNF
Lance Stroll Aston Martin DNF

Verstappen grabs Monaco Grand Prix pole in exciting qualifying

Max Verstappen achieved pole position for the Monaco Grand Prx in a thrilling battle between Fernando Alonso and Charles Leclerc.

The double world champion overcame a two-tenth disadvantage to Alonso in the final sector to make a last-gasp swoop for the fastest time, his resulting time of one minute, 11.365 seconds meant his first pole position in qualifying at the Monte Carlo street circuit.

Verstappen had set a banker with a one minute, 12.102 seconds at the start of the session, but the lap was immediately outclassed by Alonso, who grabbed a one minute, 11.706 seconds to raise the bar considerably – and felt that he’d “pushed like an animal” to take provisional pole.

The Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were unable to beat Alonso’s time, but moved ahead of Verstappen in the order as the Red Bull driver was forced to abandon his initial riposte.

Verstappen had another crack on his initial set of tyres and fell slightly short of Alonso in the opening sectors, but nailed the Rascasse and Antony Noghes corners to move to the top with a one minute, 11.654 seconds.

Esteban Ocon made a surprise charge to the top with a one minute, 11.553 seconds as the second round of runs began, until Leclerc put his Ferrari above him with a one minute, 11.471 seconds.

Alonso then charged to provisional pole with a one minute, 11.449 seconds, sending his Aston Martin mechanics into raptures, but all eyes were on Verstappen as he was set to close out the session.

Verstappen was over a tenth shy in the opening sector and his arrears grew to over two tenths, but he found three tenths over Alonso to dampen Aston Martin’s spirits.

Leclerc’s lap was good enough to start on the second row, alongside Ocon after the Alpine driver’s surprisingly strong effort was enough for fourth.

Sainz joined Lewis Hamilton on the third row, as the Mercedes driver scraped through into Q3, as Gasly and Russell filled out the fourth row. Yuki Tsunoda and Lando Norris completed the top ten, the latter able to return to the circuit after tagging the wall at Tabac in Q2.

The McLaren driver damaged the right-hand side of his car, forcing him to abandon the lap that he was on. Nonetheless, his earlier lap was enough to keep him on the right side of the elimination zone.

Norris also appeared to be impeded by Leclerc, which hindered his progress beyond P10.

Hamilton was also on the brink of elimination having been stranded in the drop zone with time for one more lap, and despite reporting that his tyres weren’t ready, the seven-time champion’s improvisation was enough to book him a spot into the top ten at the expense of Oscar Piastri.

Nyck de Vries bagged P12 on the grid ahead of Alex Albon, while Lance Stroll was hamstrung by confusion over his attendance at the weighbridge. The Canadian missed his call to get the car weighed, requiring the Aston Martin mechanics to roll his car back for the FIA to take his cornerweights. Valtteri Bottas will start the race P15, having been in the top ten after the initial foray of Q2 runs.

Sergio Perez was the biggest scalp of Q1 after his clash with the wall at Sainte Devote, which brought out the red flag with 11 minutes left on the clock.

The Red Bull driver carried too much speed into the opening corner and, as a result, the rear end of his Red Bull RB19 stepped out. The momentum pushed him towards the exit wall, hitting the Tecpro barrier with his rear-left wheel and causing heavy damage to his rear suspension.

Amid rapid track evolution when the session resumed, Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton were significantly at risk and languished in the drop zone as the Q1 session trickled towards its closing stages. Sainz had aborted laps, while Hamilton suffered a slip on his penultimate flying lap at the Nouvelle Chicane and rapidly had to regroup for one final push.

Under the pressure, both drivers delivered and managed to progress out of the bottom five, at the expense of the Haas duo as Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg were dumped out at the opening stage.

Logan Sargeant leapfrogged the pair of Haas cars while Perez starts last following his crash, alongside Zhou Guanyu.

So an exciting qualifying session with the drivers pushing to the limits. The ending to Q3 was thrilling and yet the world champion produced the result to score his first Monaco Grand Prix pole. With Fernando Alonso alongside him, the race is going to be epic. Roll on the Monaco Grand Prix!

Monaco Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:11.365
2 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:11.449
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:11.471
4 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:11.553
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:11.630
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:11.725
7 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:11.933
8 George Russell Mercedes 1:11.964
9 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:12.082
10 Lando Norris McLaren 1:12.254
11 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:12.395
12 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri 1:12.428
13 Alexander Albon Williams 1:12.527
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:12.623
15 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:12.625
16 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:13.113
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:13.270
18 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 1:13.279
19 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:13.523
20 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:13.850

Verstappen wins at Miami despite starting in P9

Max Verstappen overcame his P9 starting position to win a strategic battle between Red Bulls in Formula 1’s Miami Grand Prix, overtaking Sergio Perez on lap 48.

The defending world champion won from ninth on the grid, after losing out on a shot to set a qualifying time on Saturday after making a mistake on his first run, and was denied a further chance by Charles Leclerc’s late-session crash.

He was equipped with the hard tyre compared to Perez, who began the race from pole position on the medium compound, and Checo made sure to stay ahead of fellow front-row starter Fernando Alonso.

Verstappen initially dropped down to P10 at the start as Valtteri Bottas – starting alongside him on the grid – got a better getaway and leapfrogged the Red Bull and the Alpine of Esteban Ocon.

But the two-time champion settled in, quickly dispatching the brace of cars ahead by the end of the second lap. Further quickfire passes on Leclerc and Kevin Magnussen, who were embroiled in a delectable scrap over sixth position, got Verstappen closer to the front of the field.

A series of fastest laps in the early stages then continued to bring Verstappen back into play, and he got a tow from George Russell with DRS to dive past at Turn 17 on the eighth lap of the race as the Mercedes driver complained of vibrations under braking.

Pierre Gasly was next up on the following lap and proved easy pickings at the popular Turn 17 hairpin, moving Verstappen into the top four by the end of lap 10.

It took a comparative age for him to get onto the back of Carlos Sainz, but Verstappen cleared the Ferrari on lap 14 as Sainz had DRS from Alonso ahead to offer a token defence.

Alonso was also dispatched on the next lap with Perez now 3.6 seconds ahead in the lead, but the Red Bull driver reported that the front right tyre was beginning to give up as the mediums began to chafe in the hot Miami conditions.

Verstappen wound the gap down to 2.2 seconds before Perez came in to trade his aged mediums for a set of hard tyres on lap 20, handing the number 1 car the lead, and it became a case of both cars managing their hard tyres.

Perez had the harder job of attempting to close down an 18-second disadvantage to Verstappen, who simply had to maintain the gap prior to his pitstop for medium tyres later in the race.

By lap 32, Perez had the gap down to 14.8 seconds, but Verstappen then began to pick up the pace and managed to ensure the gap could grow once again over the next 13 laps.

Verstappen then eventually called in for medium tyres 12 laps from the end, having extended the gap to 18.3 seconds, but briefly ceded the lead to his team-mate and emerged 1.6 seconds behind once the pitstop was complete.

The pass from Verstappen seemed inevitable, although Perez offered his defence into Turn 17 on lap 47 of the circuit to keep his team-mate behind. Nonetheless, Verstappen stayed close and blasted past into Turn 1 on the next lap to seal the victory, logging the fastest lap on the penultimate lap.

Perez crossed the line 5.3 seconds behind, while Alonso completed the podium 20.9 seconds behind, feeling he had a ‘lonely race’ to third.

Russell worked his way through a number of drivers on the opposite strategy and passed both Ferraris to grab fourth, Sainz behind him in fifth having clung onto Alonso earlier on in the race.

Lewis Hamilton put a late move on Leclerc on lap 55 to rescue sixth from a P13 start, making the opposite strategy work by starting on hards despite getting caught behind Nico Hulkenberg through the first half of the race.

Leclerc meanwhile spent much of the race behind Magnussen and converted seventh on the grid to the same position by the end, ahead of the Alpines of Pierre Gasly and Ocon.

Magnussen completed the top ten, 1.3 seconds clear of a rapidly closing Yuki Tsunoda by the end of the race.

So congratulations to Max Verstappen in winning the race despite starting in the mid-pack. Whatever the starting position, the Red Bull will fly through and win the race. That RB19 car is so fast and thanks to the strategy, the world champion will rise to the top.

Miami Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:27:38.241
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull +5.384s
3 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +26.305s
4 George Russell Mercedes +33.229s
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +42.511s
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +51.249s
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +52.988s
8 Pierre Gasly Alpine +55.670s
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine +58.123s
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas +62.945s
11 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +64.309s
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +64.754s
13 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +71.637s
14 Alex Albon Williams +72.861s
15 Nico Hulkenberg Haas +74.950s
16 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo +78.440s
17 Lando Norris McLaren +87.717s
18 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri +88.949s
19 Oscar Piastri McLaren +1 lap
20 Logan Sargeant Williams +1 lap

Perez bags Miami Grand Prix pole

Sergio Perez claimed pole position at the Miami Grand Prix over Fernando Alonso, as Charles Leclerc brought out a red flag and prevented anyone from improving.

The Red Bull driver logged a time of one minute, 26.841 seconds thanks to the first flying runs in Q3 to take the early advantage on the timing board, as his teammate Max Verstappen went wide through Turn 5 and aborted his initial run – retreating to the pitlane.

Leclerc, meanwhile, tapped the wall on the exit of Turn 16 and then suffered a lock-up at the following corner, which proved only enough for seventh after the initial set of runs.

The two thus had work to do in order to move themselves up the order, and began their final runs to try and overturn Perez’s bid for a second pole position of the season.

While Leclerc began his lap in aggressive fashion, he overcooked it on the exit of Turn 6 and lost the rear to spin into the wall. This immediately brought out a set of double-waved yellows in the opening sector, but the session was red-flagged with one minute and 36 seconds left on the clock and Q3 was not restarted.

This confirmed Perez’s pole and denied Verstappen, who had topped both Q1 and Q2, a chance to bite back for pole, much to the defending champion’s frustration.

Alonso claimed his first front-row start of the season alongside Perez, thanks to his own strong performance after the opening set of runs – and hailed the Aston Martin’s balance as “perfect” following the session.

The two-time champion starts ahead of countryman Carlos Sainz on Sunday’s grid, as the Ferrari driver managed to produce a steady lap despite the opening set of runs. Kevin Magnussen joins him on the second row of the grid, the Haas driver nailing his first attempt as the team continued to look impressive throughout qualifying.

Magnussen, however, is under investigation for impeding Lewis Hamilton in Q1, when the Mercedes driver brushed the wall when avoiding the Haas.

Pierre Gasly took fifth ahead of George Russell, who broke through into Q3 by the skin of his teeth, while Leclerc was seventh fastest prior to his crash.

Esteban Ocon ensured two Alpines made the top ten, with Verstappen and Bottas failing to set representative times in the final part of qualifying.

Hamilton was the big-ticket elimination from Q2, only managing to secure P13 in the session as the Mercedes drivers spent most of the second part of qualifying in the drop zone.

Russell managed to progress into the top ten, but Hamilton was unable to extract the same degree of pace from the W14 and missed out on Q3 by two tenths, the seven-time champion feeling that the team went too late in search of progression to the final part of qualifying.

Alex Albon was dumped out of qualifying by Russell, who was just half a tenth ahead once the session came to a close, to deny Williams another shot at a Q3 berth.

Albon starts P11, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, who was also unable to progress having sat in the top ten through most of the session. Hamilton starts Sunday’s race ahead of Zhou Guanyu, who could not join Alfa Romeo team-mate Valtteri Bottas in Q3, and AlphaTauri’s Nyck de Vries.

Track conditions in Q1 rapidly improved in the dying stages of the session, creating a mad dash to the finish line as the margins were particularly tight among the midfield runners.

The McLaren and Mercedes duos were mired in the bottom five with a minute and a half to go, with both squads expecting to progress.

Both Mercedes drivers managed to grab competitive laptimes to progress, but Oscar Piastri could not break past the time and stamped his card for an early bath in the session.

Lando Norris meanwhile managed to get into P11, but improvement from the cars around him contrived to push him back down into the drop zone, ensuring he dropped out at the first stage.

Yuki Tsunoda qualified P17, while Lance Stroll also failed to coax his Aston Martin out of the bottom five and collected P18 for Sunday’s race. Piastri and Logan Sargeant completed the final row.

So a mixed up grid for the Miami Grand Prix with the Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc out of position. Overtaking around this track will be tricky but it will be fascinating to see the progress in the race.

Miami Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:26.841
2 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:27.202
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:27.349
4 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:27.767
5 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:27.786
6 George Russell Mercedes 1:27.804
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:27.861
8 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:27.935
9 Max Verstappen Red Bull No time
10 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo No time
11 Alexander Albon Williams 1:27.795
12 Nico Hulkenberg Haas 1:27.903
13 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:27.975
14 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:28.091
15 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri 1:28.395
16 Lando Norris McLaren 1:28.394
17 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:28.429
18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:28.476
19 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:28.484
20 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:28.577