Red Bull driver Sergio Perez held on to win today’s chaotic, rain-spoiled Monaco Grand Prix.
The race was red flagged after Mick Schumacher crashed into the pool barriers in a scary incident.
Schumacher lost control of his car and his Haas car split in two, such was the impact of the accident.
Fortunately, he emerged unscathed from the incident.
Perez bounced back from the Red Bull squad’s controls denying him a chance to race for victory a week ago to take his first Formula 1 victory of the season.
Perez secured his third career F1 win after a dodgy strategic call from Ferrari cost poleman Charles Leclerc a win at his home circuit.
Although Leclerc finished the race for the first time in four tries, he finished fourth and allowed reigning world champion Max Verstappen to extend his lead in the points standings. Carlos Sainz Jr. was second for Ferrari and Verstappen third for Red Bull.
Verstappen now leads Leclerc by nine points in the standings; Leclerc has won two this season, Verstappen and Perez have combined for five wins as Red Bull and Ferrari have won all seven races.
But victory on the slick streets of the city of Monaco went to Verstappen’s team-mate just a week after Perez was ordered to hand over the lead to Verstappen in the Spanish Grand Prix. Leclerc had retired from the race with engine failure and Red Bull opted to capitalize by manipulating the finish to hand Verstappen victory in Spain.
The team promised Perez he would be allowed to race for the wins and kept their word on Sunday.
“You dream of winning, and after your home race there is no more special place to win,” Perez said after waving the Mexican flag. He is third in the standings and just six points behind Leclerc.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner patted Perez on the back as he walked alongside the driver after the race. Perez is in a contract year and Red Bull and Perez have said talks over an extension will intensify over the summer months.
“Checo was sensational,” said Horner. “It’s very difficult in conditions like these, but we made the decisions well.”
Horner joined Perez on the podium and Perez struggled to hold back tears as he puffed out his cheeks and wiped his eyes as the Mexican anthem played.
“It’s a huge day for me and my country. I’m very happy. I was wearing a Pedro Rodriguez helmet,” Perez said. “I’m sure he despised me and I hope he would be very proud.”
Rodriguez, a Mexican driver who won two F1 races, died in 1971.
Verstappen celebrated with Perez, whom he considers the best teammate of his career.
“Incredible result for Checo,” he said. “Very happy for him.”
Red Bull driver Sergio Perez of Mexico celebrates on the podium after winning the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix. Photo/PA
Leclerc led from pole and screamed in rage when told to make a second tire change on lap 22 – at the same time as Sainz. His engineer realized the mistake and shouted “stay out!” but it was too late and Leclerc was back on track fourth.
“What are you doing?” cried Leclerc.
After the race, he again lectured Ferrari.
“No words, no words. We can’t do this,” he said over the radio.
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has accepted the team made the wrong call for Leclerc.
“I know he’s not happy. It’s normal that he’s not happy because we’ve only made mistakes. If you’re first and finish fourth, obviously something’s wrong. didn’t work,” Binotto said. “We should have stayed out. We’ll see why we made this decision.”
Leclerc also took pole a year ago but was never able to start as he crashed late in qualifying and the car’s gearbox failed moments before the start. In 2018 and 2019, Leclerc had retired from the race with damage caused by an accident.
The race was delayed 70 minutes for heavy rain and started from a flying start behind a safety car. He was then red-flagged on lap 30 after Schumacher’s heavy crash three laps earlier cut his Haas car in half. He got away with it unscathed.
“I’m fine, very, very upset not to finish the race,” Schumacher said. “I don’t know why the car split in two.”
George Russell finished fifth for Mercedes ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso’s Alpine. Seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton finished eighth for Mercedes – extending his winless run with the Silver Arrows to eight races – while Valtteri Bottas finished ninth for Alfa Romeo and Sebastian Vettel 10th for Aston Martin.
“A crazy afternoon. I thought the rain would make things more exciting, but we still struggled with our cars,” Hamilton said. “Probably one of the worst (starts of the season).”
Incessant rain flooded the track 20 minutes before the scheduled departure at 3:00 p.m. local time.
The peloton initially lined up and completed a delayed formation lap behind the safety car. But the drivers got out of their cars when the rain intensified and it became clear Sunday’s start would be delayed. They sheltered in their garages as the teams used makeshift tents to protect the cars.
When the rain subsided enough to start the race, Leclerc led the field on a flying start and began to record the fastest laps.
Then came a team order that played straight into the hands of Red Bull and left Leclerc despondent in Monaco.