The legendary Circuit de Monaco is one of the most famous stops on Formula 1’s schedule, but also one of its most treacherous. A hairpin descent. the walls Close enough to kiss. A dark tunnel that exits drivers in a burst of blinding sunlight.
It was a good day too.
Sunday was not a good day: it started to rain during the Monaco Grand Prix and when the tires started to lose their grip, conditions deteriorated so quickly that even the most experienced teams could have been filled with trepidation.
But Max Verstappen is no average driver, so he took his fourth win of the season and 38th of his career while others struggled. It was his second win at Monaco in three years and extended his and the Red Bulls’ lead in the season points standings.
“It’s incredibly slippery,” Verstappen said of managing the first rainy conditions of the current Formula 1 season. “You don’t want to push too hard when you’re in the lead, but you don’t want to lose too much time.”
“We clipped the walls a few times – it was very difficult – but that’s Monaco.”
Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso finished the race where he started, in second, and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon did the same in third. But Verstappen didn’t have a serious challenge all day in the nearly two-hour race as the fast cars sometimes crawled slowly as the drivers tried to hold their nerve.
Race in photos
Where the race turned
Rain, which had been on everyone’s radar for the first half of the race, finally arrived on lap 50, and it caused frantic pit stops and tire changes for the leaders. The problem was that it didn’t rain early on every part of the track, so the tires that were good on the dry pavement suddenly couldn’t cope on the slick.
It produced a series of frantic displays and contrasting results: Alonso, in the second race, raced twice in quick succession; Ferrari’s two cars pitted one after the other, taking turns to get new tyres; Drivers lose sight and slide off the race track, into obstacles or into the path of other cars. Cautious drivers breezed through the tight turns as soon as they regained their grip, or before cheering on their teams for the latest weather reports.
Yet when it was over, Verstappen emerged right where he belonged: in the lead.
Season in Review
March 5: Bahrain Grand Prix. Success: Max Verstappen