Race Report: Verstappen wins chaotic Monaco GP

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 28: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 28, 2023 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202305280422 // Usage for editorial use only //

The Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix isn’t always the most exciting race on the schedule. Its tight, twisty narrow streets tend to make it a bit of a processional race and that’s why qualifying has a lot to do with how well you might do in Sunday’s race. We were treated to an exceptional qualifying session on Saturday with epic performances from Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon and Max Verstappen. This set the stage for what would be an interesting race.

As the race began, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it might be a bit processional but it was anything but. It seemed Max Verstappen’s Red Bull had things in hand as he took the lead but there was a moment during the race where Alonso’s Aston Martin looked as if his Hard tire choice to start with might upend Red Bull’s strategy.

While there was passing in the midfield, the clouds grew darker but Red Bull knew they had to keep Max out on very worn Medium compounds to have any chance of staying ahead of Alonso who started on the Hard compound. All of that was turned on its head at lap 53 when the rain came.

It was a gamble, Aston Martin felt the rain was isolated at Mirabeau and that a fresh set of Medium would be enough but as it turns out, the rain came heavier and it engulfed the entire track. It was a gamble but in the end, I don’t think they had Verstappen completely covered regardless.

Lots of action down the field with cars running off, hitting the wall, passing and getting lapped. It was a very exciting Monaco GP from Friday onward and Esteban Ocon made it an amazing race with his podium finish in P3 with a terrific qualifying an race result! A much needed result for Alpine.

Win

A big win for Red Bull and Max Verstappen who managed to stay out much longer than they would like in order to cover Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin. Alonso and the team had Red Bull hemmed in but starting on the Hard compounds and that forced Red Bull’s hand on strategy. When the threat of rain materialized, they put the car in MAx’s hands and as long as he could manage his tires, he had to stay out. He did so and waited until the rain came with a switch to intermediate tires to take the win.

A win for Fernando Alonso and while he didn’t win the race, it was a very good run to second place for the team and makes it 5 podiums in 6 races for the Spaniard.

A fantastic result for Esteban Ocon who had a very good qualifying session and converted that into a fantastic podium finish in 3rd place. The team in total did well with Pierre Gasly also in the points for a P7 finish.

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO – MAY 28: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 28, 2023 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202305280422 // Usage for editorial use only //
MONTE-CARLO, MONACO – MAY 28: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 28, 2023 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202305280434 // Usage for editorial use only //

A good result for McLaren with Lando Norris in P9 and Oscar Piastri in P10. The team didn’t look to be particularly set for a dual-points finish on Friday and Saturday but great performances and terrific pace from Lando in the rain put them in the points.

A win for Mercedes who brought a slew of new parts and while it is difficult to know how much they will help, given the track type, hey did manage to configure the cars and execute a strategy well enough to jump the two Ferraris.

Fail

A fail for Sergio Perez who crashed in qualifying and had an equally chippy race with a few clashes and three pit stops. He was just 14 points behind Max in the championship but drops down to 39 points adrift.

A fail for Ferrari who got jumped by both Mercedes drivers in strategy and on track. Ferrari should have consolidated the 3rd and 4th place but they struggled to find their strategy and grip to make a run at Ocon or hold off the two Mercs. Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc finished 8th and 6th respectively.

A fail for Lance Stroll who ping ponged his way around to a DNF while his teammate was in P2. He’s becoming a liability to the team’s ability to score points.

WTH

Not sure what happened to Yuki Tsunoda’s brakes because he was heading toward the points. Such a shame.

Did everyone like the broadcast better? Makes me wonder why we didn’t do this much earlier. The helicopter view was terrific.

I’m befuddled by all the people on social media berating Monaco, it is so reliant on the driver’s ability and the one track that shows us what the driver’s are really capable of.

Pirelli Tire review:

  • 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 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 the 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).
  • 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 the use of 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.

Monaco GP Results:

POSNODRIVERCARLAPSTIME/RETIREDPTS
11Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT781:48:51.98025
214Fernando AlonsoASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES78+27.921s18
331Esteban OconALPINE RENAULT78+36.990s15
444Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES78+39.062s13
563George RussellMERCEDES78+56.284s10
616Charles LeclercFERRARI78+61.890s8
710Pierre GaslyALPINE RENAULT78+62.362s6
855Carlos SainzFERRARI78+63.391s4
94Lando NorrisMCLAREN MERCEDES77+1 lap2
1081Oscar PiastriMCLAREN MERCEDES77+1 lap1
1177Valtteri BottasALFA ROMEO FERRARI77+1 lap0
1221Nyck De VriesALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT77+1 lap0
1324Zhou GuanyuALFA ROMEO FERRARI77+1 lap0
1423Alexander AlbonWILLIAMS MERCEDES77+1 lap0
1522Yuki TsunodaALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT76+2 laps0
1611Sergio PerezRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT76+2 laps0
1727Nico HulkenbergHAAS FERRARI76+2 laps0
182Logan SargeantWILLIAMS MERCEDES76+2 laps0
1920Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI70DNF0
NC18Lance StrollASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES53DNF0
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charlie w

Allow me to turn the tables on you, NC. If Monaco is that one track to highlight driver’s abilities, then let’s do so properly. Let’s not use DRS on such a short, narrow track and let’s disable one or two of the MGUs (if possible) to reduce horsepower since speed is not important and let’s use only one tire for the entire race. Even with the change of weather, the outcome of the race did not change. The pole sitter lead the race flag to flag.

Worthless Opinion

It’s an incredible test of skill and to that point Saturday is tremendously interesting. And to me watching Max (who I dislike) drive in the rain was riveting and absolute proof this championship is not just the car, he is extraordinary. But you have to give the haters their due, for all the interesting things that happened, none of it makes any difference. It told the true story of Monaco when they show that grid with position change on it, like 3/4 of the field just have a zero next to them no matter WHAT happens to the track, the… Read more »