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Formula 1

Leclerc finally wins Monaco GP shaped by first-lap crash

by Samarth Kanal
5 min read

Home driver Charles Leclerc won his first Monaco Grand Prix after a red flag caused a lengthy stoppage on lap one and provided teams with a free tyre swap.

Leclerc maintained the lead off the line while his Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz attempted to pry second place off Oscar Piastri through Sainte Devote. In doing so, Sainz’s front-left tyre was punctured by the McLaren.

Red flags then flew for a massive crash on Beau Rivage in which Kevin Magnussen tagged Sergio Perez.

Magnussen’s move up the hill, in which he collected the Red Bull driver’s right-rear tyre, spun Perez around and left his RB20 mangled, also took Magnussen’s Haas team-mate Nico Hulkenberg out of the race. The stewards decided to forgo any penalties for the incident.

The Alpines also came together on the first lap as Esteban Ocon attempted to pass his team-mate Pierre Gasly on the inside of Portier - sending Ocon briefly airborne and out of the race with a five-place grid penalty for Canada - and damaging both of their cars.

A lengthy delay for barrier repairs gave Alpine, McLaren and Ferrari time to fix their cars and reinstated the field to its starting order, giving Sainz a reprieve.

How the red flag neutralised the lead battle

The red flag gave those who started the race on medium tyres, including the McLarens and Ferraris, a free switch to hard tyres on which to run the full distance. Those who started the race on hard tyres - including the Mercedes and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen – switched to medium tyres and would have a tougher time making it to the end of the race.

Both Ferraris stayed ahead of their respective McLaren sparring partners on the lap three restart, and then it was a case of managing tyre life. There was chatter over team radio concerning a potential pitstop and graining on the hard tyres, though this fell into the category of ruse rather than reality.

Leclerc stretched his legs towards the end of the race and ended up winning over Piastri by seven seconds. It was comfortable, and, given how Leclerc’s previous home races have ended, relievingly so for the Monegasque.

Piastri’s tyre wear became apparent in the closing stages but he managed to hold off Sainz by a whisker as that pair completed the podium in front of Norris. 

Late Hamilton pitstop puts Russell under pressure

George Russell took the restart in fifth place, ahead of Verstappen, and the Mercedes driver began slowing down and managing his medium tyres to keep them until the end of the race. 

It seemed that Russell would cruise to fifth place but, on lap 52 of 78, Lewis Hamilton pitted from seventh place – a free pitstop given the margin to RB’s Yuki Tsunoda behind. Hamilton’s pitstop led Verstappen to pit on the next lap in order to avoid a potential undercut.

Russell, however, stayed out, and given the superior pace from the new-hard-tyred cars of Hamilton and Verstappen, he had missed his brief window to pit and stay ahead of them.

In the closing stages of the race, Hamilton and Verstappen began catching Russell and with 10 laps remaining Verstappen was in DRS range of Russell.

Like Piastri, Russell had to soak up immense pressure late in the race – but this case seemed avoidable if Mercedes hadn’t pulled the trigger with Hamilton on lap 52.

Tsunoda 'best of the rest' despite Albon's efforts

Yuki Tsunoda’s car wasn’t in the same league as the Mercedes and Red Bull ahead but the RB driver put in an assured performance for eighth place.

This eighth-place finish seemed under threat with 10 laps remaining as Williams’s Alex Albon had some tyre life saved up and caught up to the Japanese driver, but Tsunoda responded in kind and cemented his first points finish in the Monaco Grand Prix.

Albon however gave Williams its first points at Monaco since 2017 with ninth.

Gasly managed to close out the top 10 despite the first-lap collision with Ocon and the less favourable option to switch from hards to mediums during the red flag.

Aston Martin, Sauber, and Haas were the three teams to leave Monaco empty-handed.

Monaco GP result

PosNameCarLapsLaps LedTotal TimeFastest LapPitstopsPts
1Charles LeclercFerrari78782h23m15.554s1m15.162s025
2Oscar PiastriMcLaren-Mercedes780+7.152s1m16.281s018
3Carlos SainzFerrari780+7.585s1m14.726s015
4Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes780+8.650s1m15.742s012
5George RussellMercedes780+13.309s1m15.228s010
6Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPT780+13.853s1m14.569s18
7Lewis HamiltonMercedes780+14.908s1m14.165s17
8Yuki TsunodaRed Bull-Honda RBPT770+0.000s1m14.720s04
9Alex AlbonWilliams-Mercedes770+0.000s1m17.060s02
10Pierre GaslyAlpine-Renault770+0.000s1m15.625s01
11Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-Mercedes760+0.000s1m17.939s00
12Daniel RicciardoRB-Honda RBPT760+0.000s1m17.172s00
13Valtteri BottasSauber-Ferrari760+0.000s1m16.561s00
14Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes760+0.000s1m16.710s20
15Logan SargeantWilliams-Mercedes760+0.000s1m15.525s10
16Guanyu ZhouSauber-Ferrari760+0.000s1m14.718s10
Esteban OconAlpine-Renault00DNF0s00
Sergio PérezRed Bull-Honda RBPT00DNF0s00
Nico HülkenbergHaas-Ferrari00DNF0s00
Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari00DNF0s00
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