F1 Monaco 2023: Max's Monte Carlo Masterclass
The sixth round of the 2023 Formula 1 World Championship was supposed to take place at the Autodromo Dino e Enzo Ferrari in Imola. However, due to severe weather in northern Italy, this race was cancelled. That made the Monaco Grand Prix race number six of the 2023 F1 season.
Saturday: a Red Bull sandwich
As usual, qualifying in the Principality went anything but smoothly. Q1 was halted early after title contender Sergio Pérez put his RB19 into wall at turn one. Because of his mistake, the Mexican was dead last in qualifying. Alfa Romeo driver Guanyu Zhou, both Haas drivers Nico Hülkenberg and Kevin Magnussen and Williams driver Logan Sargeant also failed to make it through to Q2.
Q2 was less chaotic. Valtteri Bottas finished fifteenth, followed by Lance Stroll in spot fourteen. Alexander Albon clocked the thirteenth time and Nyck de Vries stuck in place twelve despite a strong performance. Oscar Piastri just did not make it to Q3, the Australian finished eleventh.
However, the real battle for pole position was between two two-time world champions: Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso. It was constantly shifting points for the pair. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc was also in the mix for a while. In the end, it was Max Verstappen - largely due to a lightning-fast performance in the third sector - who put his Red Bull car in first place on the grid. Fernando Alonso followed in second place, just one tenth behind Verstappen. Leclerc was third, but had to start the race from sixth due to blocking Lando Norris in the tunnel. See the full results of qualifying here.
F1 Monaco Grand Prix 2023
All 20 F1 drivers got through the first corner unscathed. Verstappen had a good start; Alonso closed in on second, followed by Esteban Ocon. But even before the complete starting field arrived at the hairpin, chaos began. Nico Hülkenberg braked too late and hit some concurrencies, but miraculously without consequences. Lance Stroll went for a gap that did not exist and drove himself between the wall and Logan Sargeant when braking for the hairpin. Despite all the touches, everyone continued the race.
Ocon and Alpine frustrate Ferrari
As the race progressed, Carlos Sainz (P4) put up the pressure on Esteban Ocon (P3). The Spaniard drove several laps shortly behind the Frenchman and tried to pass the latter on exiting the tunnel. Sainz hit Ocon and damaged his front wing but was able to continue his way. A few laps later, Ocon made a (bad) pit stop, which should have given Sainz an advantageous situation. However, Ocon drove a hell of an outlap and managed to keep Sainz behind after his pit stop. Sainz reacted furiously over the board radio and expressed his disagreement with the choices made by his team.
Plenty of battles
There was plenty of fighting not only at the front of the field, but also in the middle and at the back. Sergio Pérez got into a fight with Kevin Magnussen, breaking his front wing. The Mexican driver soon came in for a new wing. Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri made the most of their McLaren cars and battled their way through the field.
Rain pours down
Some 20 laps before the end of the race, drops appeared on the streets of Monaco. Especially at the end of the first and the beginning of the second sector, it quickly became very wet. Several drivers tried to continue their way on slicks, but soon made a pit stop for intermediates due to the increasing rain. Fernando Alonso went for an alternative strategy and came in for new mediums. This proved to be a poor choice; the Spaniard came in for rain tyres not long after.
In the laps that followed, the rain worsened. Lance Stroll became the first victim. He hit the wall several times and parked his Aston Martin in the second sector. Logan Sargeant, Kevin Magnussen, Sergio Pérez ánd Max Verstappen also touched the crash barrier in Monaco, but without major consequences.
Verstappen wins, former teammates celebrate reunion on the podium
About ten laps before the end of the race, the rainfall eased. Nevertheless, plenty happened. George Russell braked too late and shot straight ahead. When he got back onto the track, he banged by Sergio Pérez. Both continued on their way without damage. However, Russell did receive a penalty from race control. Yuki Tsunoda was heading for points for a long time, but tumbled down the rankings due to braking problems. Verstappen crossed the finish line first after a flawless performance, Fernando Alonso followed half a minute later in second place. Esteban Ocon claimed the third podium spot. The Frenchman was back on the podium with former teammate Alonso after almost two years (Hungary 2021). Lewis Hamilton was fourth, George Russell fifth and Charles Leclerc sixth.
See the full results of the 2023 Monaco Grand Prix here.