Max Verstappen wins thrilling Monaco GP as rain sparks late drama

The Dutchman led from start to finish and captured a dominant Monaco GP win

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Max Verstappen sealed a dominant and chaotic Monaco Grand Prix win from Fernando Alonso to extend his lead in the world championship to 39 points.

A typically processional race around the streets of Monte Carlo came to life when rain started falling with more than 20 laps remaining, sparking a flurry of activity in the pits as teams attempted to gauge the right cutoff point.

But there was no denying Verstappen, who opened up a healthy gap from pole in the dry phase of the race, before Red Bull got the big call correct to put their star driver on the intermediate tyres to take the chequered flag by 27 seconds and his fourth victory of the season.

“It was quite a difficult one because we were on the medium and Fernando was on the hard. We didn’t want to go that long but we had to stay out with the rain coming,” Verstappen said.

“The tyres were graining and then the pace picked up a little bit but it was still very tricky to drive. Then it started to rain and we had to make the call to go onto the inters.

“It was incredibly slippery and when you are that far in the lead you don’t want to push to hard but also you don’t want to lose too much time so it’s quite difficult in that scenario. I clipped the wall a few times and it was super difficult out there. But that’s Monaco.

“It’s super nice to win Monaco, and it’s super nice to win it in the way we did today with the weather and everything, to stay calm and bring it home.”

Max Verstappen on track during the 2023 Monaco GP
MONTE-CARLO, MONACO – MAY 28: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 28, 2023 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202305280252 // Usage for editorial use only //

Aston Martin opted to start Alonso on the hard tyres in a bid to go long and put pressure on Verstappen late in the race but the rain put paid to that plan.

The Spaniard boxed for medium tyres at the end of Lap 54 and then returned to the pits a lap later for the green-marked inters, leaving him more than 20 seconds behind Verstappen.

However, such was his advantage to the chasing pack, Alonso still took a comfortable second and his fifth podium of 2023.

Behind the top two, Esteban Ocon kept his cool during a hectic 78 laps despite coming under early pressure from Carlos Sainz and late pressure from Lewis Hamilton.

The Frenchman qualified fourth but started third after Charles Leclerc‘s penalty and didn’t put a wheel out of place to clinch the third podium of his career.

Hamilton was another driver who required two pit stops but crossed the line fourth, ahead of his teammate George Russell, in a positive showing for the newly upgraded W14.

Leclerc benefited from the rain to leapfrog his teammate for sixth at his home race, with Sainz’s hectic afternoon ending in eighth.

Pierre Gasly in seventh made it a Monaco GP to remember for Alpine, who moved above McLaren into fifth in the constructors’ championship.

Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri took the last points on offer in ninth and 10th respectively.

Pos.DriverTeam
1.Max VerstappenRed Bull
2.Fernando AlonsoAston Martin
3.Esteban OconAlpine
4.Lewis HamiltonMercedes
5.George RussellMercedes
6.Charles LeclercFerrari
7.Pierre GaslyAlpine
8.Carlos SainzFerrari
9.Lando NorrisMcLaren
10.Oscar PiastriMcLaren

How the late Monaco GP drama unfolded

All was going as expected for the majority of this year’s Monaco GP, with overtaking proving as difficult as ever.

However, with the lingering threat of rain, its arrival caused chaos and brought the race to life.

On Lap 50, drivers started to report spots of rain on their visors before the heavens slowly began to open.

It only affected the entry in Mirabeau for a few laps until it spread across the entire circuit, sparking a flurry of pit lane activity.

Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll were the first to take the plunge onto inters on Lap 53 before the rest of the pack quickly followed suit.

But not before Alonso made his first stop the following lap, with Aston Martin opting to put the Spaniard on mediums.

That could have ended his race as the rain intensified, but Alonso was immediately called back into the garage to ditch the slicks for inters.

Verstappen, Russell, Ocon and Hamilton also came in at the end of Lap 55, but Sainz stayed out and came unstuck at Mirabeau, locking up and skating off track to drop from fourth to eighth.

Even on the inters, Russell slid off track, again at Mirabeau, colliding with Sergio Perez when he rejoined the track and picking up a five-second penalty.

The incident also allowed his teammate back past him before the Mercedes men held station in fourth and fifth to the line, with Russell building enough of a gap to render the penalty inconsequential.

Conditions remained treacherous, with Hamilton citing safety concerns until the rain eased with around 10 laps to go. The seven-time world champion has always been a specialist in the rain and put Ocon under pressure for third but couldn’t force his way by.

Multiple drivers, including Verstappen, had brushes with the wall during a dramatic climax to Formula 1’s showpiece event, but they displayed all their skill and prowess to leave Monte Carlo largely unscathed.

Andrew Wright
Andrew Wrighthttps://total-motorsport.com
Sports Journalist for Total-Motorsport.com
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