Sergio Perez claimed his first win of this season at a chaotic Monaco GP, taking the chequered flag as a furious Charles Leclerc raged at Ferrari for botching his strategy.
It was a grand prix that left questions on the table, F1’s new Race Directors too cautious as they delayed the start by an hour because of rain while Mick Schumacher’s Haas – not for the first time this season – broke in two as he hit the barriers hard.
However, it is Ferrari and their call to pit Leclerc twice in three laps that had the majority of the Monégasque fans, and the driver, uttering a few choice phrases.
That opened the door for Red Bull with Perez using the undercut to take the lead which he held through to the chequered flag, taking his first win of this championship.
Carlos Sainz was second, Perez probably grateful for that as it meant he was not ordered to hand the position to his team-mate Max Verstappen, the championship leader finishing third.
Leclerc may have finished his first Monaco Grand Prix, ever, but that will be little consolation for the former race leader as he brought his Ferrari across the line in fourth place.
PEREZ WINS IN MONACO! 🇲🇨🏆
— Autosport (@autosport) May 29, 2022
30% chance of rain, 60% chance of rain, and oh look it is raining. There was confusion, mainly from Race Control, the start of the formation lap twice pushed back before the cars did a lap behind the Safety Car, the red flag was thrown, and everyone was back in the pit lane in their grid order.
The reduced-to-77-laps grand prix eventually began 65 minutes after the original start time, doing so behind the Safety Car. That did nothing to help Lance Stroll nor Nicholas Latifi, both smacking the barriers and pitting for repairs.
The race properly began on lap 3, Leclerc twitching his way across the line to lead his home race ahead of Sainz and the two Red Bull drivers. While the top six race as you were, those behind them, starting with another stop for Stroll and Latifi – the two almost running into each other in the pit lane, began to gamble on intermediate tyres.
Pierre Gasly was one of the first and while his first few laps were treacherous, he began to up his pace and made the first overtakes of the grand prix as he took Zhou Guanyu and then Daniel Ricciardo.
Meanwhile Esteban Ocon engaged in a thrilling battle with Lewis Hamilton, who was on new inters, as he made his Alpine wider than wide as he defended against the seven-time World Champion. Hamilton wasn’t impressed with some of his antics.
As those on intermediates set the fastest laps of the race that posed a conundrum for the leading quartet, swap to intermediate tyres or wait for slicks. Leclerc took the intermediate route, Sainz – and Red Bull – waiting for slicks. That turned out to be a three-lap difference resulting in Leclerc falling from first to fourth with his two stops, Sergio Perez using the undercut to take the lead off Sainz, and Verstappen moving up to third. Leclerc was furious.
— Grand Prix Diary (@GrandPrixDiary) May 29, 2022
That was by no means done with Verstappen noted for a pit exit infringement, cutting the line, while Sainz tried to pass Perez on the pit straight. But, with only one dry line, the Spaniard had to make arguable the save of the season to keep his Ferrari out of the barriers.
Mick Schumacher didn’t. He lost control at the Swimming Pool, smacked the Armco barrier before hitting the Tecpro, and hard. So hard, his Haas broke in two. “I’m okay, I just don’t understand it,” he told Haas, the Safety Car out and then the race red flagged with 30 of the 77 laps completed. It was Haas’ second retirement, Kevin Magnussen having parked a little earlier with a ‘system water pressure loss’.
— Motorsport.com (@Motorsport) May 29, 2022
The race resumed with a rolling start at 5:15pm, 45 minutes left on the clock, with the top 10 split on the mediums versus hards. Race leader Perez, Verstappen, Russell, Fernando Alonso, Hamilton and Ocon on the mediums, the Ferraris and the rest on the white marked tyres. Running Red Bull-Ferrari-Red Bull-Ferrari, then Russell with Norris on his rear wing, and Alonso keeping Hamilton at bay, Monaco did what Monaco does as the time counted down.
Zhou added some late excitement as he had a near-miss as he tried to pass Yuki Tsunoda out of the tunnel and got out of shape. Sainz was told to “put pressure” on Perez, closing the gap on the race leader and bringing Verstappen and Leclerc with him, the four separated by 2.5s with 10 minutes remaining.
LAP 53/77 (13 mins to go)
Can Sainz challenge Perez for the lead before the end of the race?
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 29, 2022
Perez kept his nerve and raced his way to the victory, his first of this season and his first in Monaco, crossing the line ahead of Sainz and Verstappen. The latter extended his lead in the Drivers’ Championship as Leclerc, despite seeing the chequered flag for the first time in Monte Carlo, was a disappointing P4.
Russell extended his run of top-five finishes as he beat Norris with Alonso seventh ahead of Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel. Ocon crossed the line ninth but had a five-second penalty for an earlier incident with Hamilton, dropping him outside the points.
1 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:56:30.265
2 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1.154s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1.491s
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 2.922s
5 George Russell Mercedes 11.968s
6 Lando Norris McLaren 12.231s
7 Fernando Alonso Alpine 46.358s
8 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 50.388s
9 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Racing 52.525s
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 53.536s
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 54.289s
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine 55.644s
13 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 57.635s
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 60.802s
15 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1 lap
16 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Racing 1 lap
17 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1 lap
Did not finish
Alex Albon Williams
Mick Schumacher Haas – crash
Kevin Magnussen Haas – leak