Max Verstappen kept Red Bull’s 2023 winning record intact by overcoming a rain shower – and the chaos that ensued – in the closing stages of the 2023 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix, leading home Aston Martin rival Fernando Alonso and the Alpine of Esteban Ocon.
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Verstappen made a clean getaway when the race began to maintain his pole position advantage over Alonso into the first corner, with the Red Bull opting for medium starting tyres and the Aston Martin going for hards.
But as the race developed and planned one-and-only stops approached, a rain shower hit the track to turn the encounter on its head, causing a flurry of off-track excursions, brushes with the barriers and pit lane activity.
Alonso pitted while only a portion of the track was damp and initially took on mediums. However, intensifying rainfall meant he was forced back in for intermediates, for which the rest of the field clambered.
Crucially, Verstappen went straight from his starting mediums to intermediates. He survived contact with the wall before pitting, getting back into a rhythm in the mixed conditions and controlling proceedings to the chequered flag.
Despite that extra stop, Alonso had enough in hand to retain second and score Aston Martin’s best result of the season so far, with Ocon converting his eye-catching qualifying performance into the final podium spot.
Mercedes’ updated W14s racked up a solid haul of points as Lewis Hamilton and George Russell took fourth and fifth, respectively, the latter’s five-second time penalty for clashing with Sergio Perez when he rejoined the track from an off in the slippery conditions not affecting his finishing position.
Home favourite Charles Leclerc crossed the line where he started in sixth, having been given a three-place grid penalty for impeding Lando Norris in qualifying, followed by the other Alpine of Pierre Gasly and Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz, who lost out with a spin in the wet.
Norris and Oscar Piastri gave McLaren double points finish in the ninth and 10th, completing late moves on AlphaTauri rival Yuki Tsunoda, who then tumbled down the order to 15th amid a lock-up and brake complaints.
Alfa Romeo wound up 11th and 13th, with Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu sandwiching the other AlphaTauri of Nyck de Vries, followed by Williams’ Alex Albon, Tsunoda and Perez, who could do no more than 16th after his qualifying crash.
Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg endured a messy race en route to 17th, having been given a five-second penalty by the stewards – for hitting Logan Sargeant on Lap 1 – that was not served correctly, resulting in an additional 10-second sanction.
Sargeant was the final finisher following an early-race puncture, with Kevin Magnussen retiring his Haas in the closing laps after being the last driver to ditch slick tyres and visiting the barriers, and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll the other to DNF after an array of incidents.
Mario Isola, Motorsport Director, Pirelli:
The Monaco weekend was filled with emotions, both for the people watching the race in person and those following it at home on TV and online. Just like a year ago, all five types of tyre brought to Monaco were used, with the new specification of wet tyre – which doesn’t require blankets – making its debut. First impressions of its performance seem in line with expectations, although you obviously can’t really compare Monaco with anywhere else. When it was dry, the race was a chess game between those who started on the mediums and those who opted for the hards: a bigger number of drivers than we had anticipated heading into the race. Just one person, Guanyu Zhou, went for the softs at the start.
As is often the case in Monaco, it was first a question of seeing who made the best of the traffic to find the right time to make the decisive move and pit. But then there was the uncertain weather, with the rain that everybody knew was coming but nobody expected to be quite so heavy. All this added to an extremely difficult race to manage without making mistakes. The first stint on the medium was much longer than expected: not only did Verstappen complete 55 laps on this compound, but both AlphaTauri drivers did 53 laps, while Lando Norris did 50. On this track in particular, tyre management, even with graining, had to be carried out according to traffic and weather conditions – as was definitely the case today.
How the race was won from the tyre point of view:
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the Monaco Grand Prix with Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso in second. Esteban Ocon was third for Alpine. All the drivers on the podium took the chequered flag on the Cinturato Green intermediate. As was the case last year, all the compounds were used: three different types of slick and two wets, including the new Cinturato Blue full wet.
As usual in Monaco, qualifying was decisive for the race result, with the top three on the grid finishing in the same order. Charles Leclerc had originally qualified third ahead of Ocon but received a three-place grid penalty.
Verstappen and Ocon started on P Zero Yellow mediums with the intention of switching to the P Zero White hard for the finish. But after the rain came, Verstappen could move directly to the intermediate. Alonso also started on the hard compound but pitted for mediums which he ran for just one lap before changing to intermediates.
Half the teams split their strategies for a start: Mercedes, Alpine, McLaren, Alfa Romeo, and Haas all fitted their two cars with different compounds. The only driver to start on the P Zero Red soft was Guanyu Zhou (Alfa Romeo), who stopped after just one lap to fit the hard tyres, as did Nico Hulkenberg (Haas) and Sergio Perez (Red Bull).
The rain started to fall about 25 laps before the end of the race, initially between turns 4 and 8. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) was first to fit the intermediate, and Kevin Magnussen (Haas) was last to visit the pits for rain tyres, swapping the hards for the full wet.
The new Cinturato Blue Full Wet tyre, which had been due to make its debut at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, was used by the two Haas drivers and Perez. It is the first Pirelli Formula 1 tyre that does not require tyre warmers.
Bottas had the fastest time on the intermediates, setting a 1m24.637s on lap 76. Hulkenberg set the best time with the full wet tyres of 1m32.994s on lap 72. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) did the overall fastest lap of the race (1m15.650s) on lap 33 when he was on the hard tyres, while the best performance on mediums came from Leclerc (1m15.773s) on lap 46. Magnussen had the longest stint, using the hard for 56 laps.
The rain caused the asphalt temperatures to drop sharply from 41°C to 27°C while the ambient temperature fluctuated between 28 and 23°C.
Next week Formula 1 will travel to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the Spanish Grand Prix (2-4 June). The P Zero White hard will be the C1 tyre, the P Zero Yellow medium the C2, and the P Zero Red soft the C3. The circuit has been modified for this year by removing the final chicane, making it faster and more flowing.
2023 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix Race Results
|1.||1||Max Verstappen||Netherlands||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:48:51.980||25||93|
|2.||14||Fernando Alonso||Spain||Alpine F1 Team||+27.921s||18||60|
|3.||31||Esteban Ocon||France||Alpine F1 Team||+36.990s||15||4|
|4.||44||Lewis Hamilton||Great Britain||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||+39.062s||13||48|
|5.||63||George Russell||Great Britain||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||+56.284s||10||28|
|6.||16||Charles Leclerc||Monaco||Scuderia Ferrari||+61.890s||8||28|
|7.||10||Pierre Gasly||France||Alpine F1 Team||+62.362s||6||2|
|8.||55||Carlos Sainz||Spain||Scuderia Ferrari||+63.391s||4||34|
|9.||4||Lando Norris||Great Britain||Mclaren Racing||+1 lap||2||10|
|10.||81||Oscar Piastri||Australia||McLaren Racing||+1 lap||1||4|
|11.||77||Valtteri Bottas||Finland||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||+1 lap||0||4|
|12.||21||Nyck De Vries||Netherlands||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+1 lap||0||0|
|13.||24||Zhou Guanyu||China||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||+1 lap||0||2|
|14.||45||Alexander Albon||Thailand||Williams Racing||+1 lap||0||1|
|15.||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Japan||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+2 laps||0||2|
|16.||11||Sergio Perez||Mexico||Red Bull Racing Honda||+2 laps||0||87|
|17.||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Germany||Haas F1 Team||+2 laps||0||6|
|18.||2||Logan Sargeant||USA||Williams Racing||+2 laps||0||0|
|10.||20||Kevin Magnussen||Denmark||Haas F1 Team||DNF||0||1|
|12.||18||Lance Stroll||Canada||Aston Martin F1 Team||DNF||0||27|
2023 Constructor Standings
|1.||Red Bull Racing||623|
|2.||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team||305|
|4.||Aston Martin F1 Team||221|
|6.||Alpine F1 Team||84|
|7.||Haas F1 Team||12|
|8.||Alfa Romeo Racing||10|