Mexican Sergio Perez won a rain-delayed, crash-halted and ultimately nail-biting Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday as Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen finished third to stretch his Formula One lead over Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was second, for the second year in a row, with Leclerc an agonising fourth in his home race after starting on pole position but with his team outsmarted on strategy by Red Bull.
Leclerc had started on pole position but Ferrari were outsmarted on strategy and he was leapfrogged by the Red Bull drivers in the pitstops.
He at least ended a home jinx to become the first Monegasque to score in Monaco since Louis Chiron finished third in 1950, the year the championship began, but the race had promised so much more.
The win was the third of Perez’s career and second for Red Bull, and it ended with a thrilling chase on a treacherous street circuit where the difference between success and failure is measured in millimetres.
The top four at the chequered flag were separated by a mere 2.9 seconds.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “After your home race it’s the most special race to win.”
The race started after more than an hour’s delay, with the safety car guiding the field around for formation laps on the wet asphalt before peeling off into the pits as Leclerc led the rolling start.
The Monegasque stayed ahead until lap 18, when he pitted to change from wet tyres to intermediates and found himself behind Perez, who had come in a lap earlier and made the ‘undercut’ work, and Sainz.
An angry Leclerc dropped to fourth after Ferrari called him in again for slicks and then told him, too late, to stay out after Sainz also pitted and went directly from wets to the dry tyres.
Red Bull successfully double-stacked their drivers, with the order settling at Perez leading, ahead of Sainz, Verstappen and Leclerc.
The safety car was again deployed on lap 27 after Mick Schumacher crashed his Haas heavily at the exit to the swimming pool complex, the car spinning into the barriers and splitting in two.
“I’m okay,” gasped the 23-year-old German, whose Ferrari great father Michael was a five-times winner in Monaco, over the car radio.
⚠️ SAFETY CAR ⚠️
Mick Schumacher walks away from his car after crashing into the barriers at the Swimming Pool section #MonacoGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/yHQszKxGpg
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 29, 2022
Perez was only the third driver to win a race this season, with Verstappen winning four of the previous six and Leclerc the other two.
Verstappen, who had been chasing a fourth win in a row, now has 125 points to Leclerc’s 116 with Perez on 110.
Red Bull forged 36 points clear of Ferrari in the constructors’ standings.
George Russell was fifth for Mercedes, ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and Alpine’s Fernando Alonso.
Seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton took eighth for Mercedes, with Valtteri Bottas ninth for Alfa Romeo and Sebastian Vettel 10th for Aston Martin.