Sergio Pérez won a Monaco Grand Prix held in difficult wet-dry conditions beating Carlos Sainz, as Max Verstappen finished in third-place finish to extends his title lead over Charles Leclerc who took the flag in fourth place after Ferrari lost a strategic battle with Red Bull.
With heavy rain falling ahead of the scheduled start, race control delayed the race by more than an hour. And when the race finally got underway it did so on a wet track and behind the Safety Car. A rolling start was decreed and when the safety car left the track polesitter Leclerc slithered into a cautious lead ahead of Sainz, Pérez and Verstappen. While the opening laps were nervous, the rain eventually began to recede. With risk aversion the key to success in such conditions, the field settled into a steady rhythm, with Leclerc running a couple of seconds ahead of Sainz and with Pérez a similar amount of time behind the Spaniard. McLaren’s Lando Norris held fifth place ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell and the Alpine of Fernando Alonso.
With Sainz running slightly slower than his team-mate, Leclerc was able to build a gap at the front and after 12 laps the lead Ferrari was more than five seconds clear of the Spaniard. Pérez was almost seven seconds off the lead, with Verstappen 1.3s behind his Mexican team-mate.
On lap 14 Pérez told his team saying that he felt the time was right to move to inters and his opening seemed to be confirmed by Pierre Gasly rising from 17th on the grid to P12 after his early switch to the green-banded tyres at the start. Sainz, though, told the Ferrari pit wall that he wanted to go straight to dry tyres.
Pérez was the first of the leaders to switch and he moved to inters at the end of lap 16. He rejoined in fifth behind Norris. Leclerc pitted at the end of lap 17, also taking intermediate tyres and he was joined in the pit lane by Verstappen who made the same switch. That promoted Sainz to the lead, though the Spaniard was in need of a pit stop. Pérez armed with fresh tyres, now lay in second, 3.4s ahead of Leclerc.
As he had requested, Sainz moved directly to dry hard tyres at the end of lap 20, and Ferrari gave Leclerc the order to do the same. But at the last moment the Italian team’s engineers changed their minds and Leclerc was told to stay out. It was too late, however, and the Monegasque driver was already in the pit lane. He was switched to hard tyres and released.
The hard tyres proved difficult to switch on and as Sainz and Leclerc struggled for pace the Red Bulls drew away. Red Bull then pitted its drivers in a stacked pit stop for hard tyres at the end of lap 21, and Pérez and Verstappen emerged in first and third respectively.
Behind the top four, Russell was now in fifth place, 1.3s ahead of Norris, while Alonso held seventh place ahead of Hamilton. Esteban Ocon was ninth in the second Alpine, while Valtteri Bottas held 10th for Alfa Romeo ahead of Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and Gasly whose progress had stalled in P12.
On lap 27, Mick Schumacher lost control of his Haas and hit the wall in the swimming pool section. The German appeared to lose the rear of his on a damp section in the middle of the track and he was pitched hard into the barriers. The Virtual Safety Car was initially deployed but soon the physical version appeared and the race was nullified. And with the barriers requiring repair, on lap 29 the race was red flagged. During the stoppage Red Bull switched its drivers to medium tyres, though Ferrari left Sainz and Leclerc on used hard tyres.
The race resumed with another rolling start and when the safety car left the track and Pérez held his lead ahead of Sainz, with Verstappen still third ahead of Leclerc.
The Mexican settled quickly and he began to eke out a slim gap to Sainz. By lap 43 he was 2.2s ahead of the Spaniard, while Max was just under two seconds further back. Leclerc, in fourth place, was 2.4s behind Max while Russell was fifth ahead of Norris, Alonso and Hamilton.
On lap 50, the comfort zone Pérez had enjoyed began to ebb as his medium tyres began to grain and Sainz slowly began to close in. By lap 54 the Mexican was just 0.7s ahead of the Ferrari driver.
The final laps of the time-limited race then became a game of cat and mouse as Pérez tried to nurse his fading medium tyres to the flag, while the three drivers behind him pushed to provoke any kind of mistake.
However, despite heavy graining, the Mexican racer kept his composure and after 64 laps Pérez crossed the line to take his third grand prix win. Behind him Sainz was forced to settle for second, while Verstappen’s third place extends his championship lead over fourth-place Leclerc by a further three points. With 125 points the Dutchman is now nine clear of Leclerc. Pérez is third on 110 points. Russell took fifth place ahead of Norris, Alonso and Hamilton, while Bottas took ninth. The final point on offer went to Aston Martins Sebastian Vettel.
2022 FIA Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix – Race
1 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Racing 64 1:56’30.265
2 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 64 1:56’31.419 1.154
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 64 1:56’31.756 1.491
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 64 1:56’33.187 2.922
5 George Russell Mercedes 64 1:56’42.233 11.968
6 Lando Norris McLaren 64 1:56’42.496 12.231
7 Fernando Alonso Alpine 64 1:57’16.623 46.358
8 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 64 1:57’20.653 50.388
9 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 64 1:57’22.790 52.525
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 64 1:57’23.801 53.536
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 64 1:57’24.554 54.289
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine 64 1:57’25.909 55.644
13 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 64 1:57’27.900 57.635
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 64 1:57’31.067 1’00.802
15 Nicholas Latifi Williams 63 1:56’40.285 1 lap /10.020
16 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 63 1:56’40.765 1 lap /10.500
17 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 63 1:57’03.023 1 lap /32.758
Alexander Albon Williams 48 1:36’48.712 Retirement
Mick Schumacher Haas 24 41’27.506 Accident
Kevin Magnussen Haas 19 33’15.352 Power Unit