The seventh showdown of the Formula 1 season took the drivers to the crown jewel of the calendar: Monaco. Racing around the technical street circuit is described by drivers as the ultimate challenge and an extra step has been taken in 2022. Twenty minutes before the start, the sky opened its floodgates and the promised rain conquered the course. This resulted in a delayed start. Race control initially decided to start behind the safety car, which meant that the drivers had to start on rain tires.
Long wait for job action, Canadians are first to go down
The teams had to switch to rain tyres, although not all drivers saw the need for it: “What are we still waiting for?” said Max Verstappen on the grid. The Limburg native, who already said on Saturday that he needed rain and chaos on Sunday, initially considered releasing the field, but that turned out to be impossible after the postponement. When race director Eduardo Freitas decided to do several formation laps behind the safety car, it was pouring rain. It changed the situation and resulted in a red flag and another delay.
During this break, the renewed competition director showed that she had learned very little from water ballet at Spa by again showing nothing of herself. At 4:05 p.m. it had to happen after all, with a second attempt behind the safety car. Even behind Bernd Mayländer’s back, things turned out to be too difficult for the two Canadian participants. Nicholas Latifi damaged his front wing in Loew’s hairpin, whereupon Lance Stroll also touched the guardrail.
Ferrari gives up in the tactical duel, Perez takes his chance
With the two usual suspects The safety car drove in at a disadvantage and the crowd got what they came for: a race. The showdown got off to a rolling start, with polesitter Charles Leclerc standing his ground and taking the reins. Team-mate Carlos Sainz was unable to parry his lap times on rain tires and not only left himself behind, but also Sergio Perez and Verstappen. No problem with the still cloudy skies for Leclerc, although that would change dramatically.
A tactical raffle would completely reshuffle the cards. This tactical draw was set in motion when Pierre Gasly was the first to gamble a reasonable distance from the leaders by going to the intermediate stage. The Frenchman struggled on his green cheeked tires for the first few laps but then started setting times in purple sectors. It signaled to other teams that he was on the right tire compound, although “getting there is one, there’s two” is pushed to the extreme through Monaco’s narrow streets. Exactly this wisdom was the reason why the men at the front didn’t want to give up the track position immediately, although Gasly also showed that overtaking is quite possible. He outwitted first Zhou Guanyu and then Daniel Ricciardo towards the pool.
His lap times were so impressive that they left his rivals with little choice but to grab the intermediates: the game on the car. Perez opened the tactical duel up front and this choice would do him and Red Bull absolutely no harm. In fact: when Leclerc and Verstappen followed his example, the Mexican turned out to be a real winner and had the lead in his hands. Sainz was the only one of the top four to skip the intermediates, opting on lap 22 for slicks, Pirelli’s toughest tires to be precise.
It was the beginning of a very unfortunate period for Ferrari. After some Italian chaos at the Scuderia, Leclerc was also immediately supplied with slicks, but that’s a tactic that has proved very expensive. After Red Bull also made a double pit stop a lap later, i.e. the overcut, Ferrari proved to be in the game. Perez managed to come out for Sainz again to keep the lead. To complete the sofa for Ferrari, the second Ferrari also saw a Red Bull coming alongside. Leclerc, to his own dismay, had to put up with his title rival Verstappen, who partially crossed the yellow line when exiting the pits, despite the home driver’s superiority all weekend. His expressed dissatisfaction with the on-board radio should therefore not come as a surprise.
Heavy crash Schumacher, Perez stays cool in the hair-raising final phase
For another Ferrari protégé it went much less. Not long after that pit stop game, Mick Schumacher lost control of his Haas on his way to the pool, slammed hard into the TecPro barrier and saw his car split in two. The German announced it over the on-board radio, which was logically the most important thing, but there was another interruption. The race control initially thought they could get by with a safety car, but later decided on a red flag because the TecPro had to be repaired.
This red flag gave all drivers an unforeseen opportunity to change tires in the pit lane and Red Bull took advantage of it. Christian Horner’s team put both drivers out on track on new mediums, while Ferrari kept both cars on the used hard tires for the rest of the race. This remainder would not be the full race distance due to the two-hour regulation. The 77-lap counter gave way to a descending clock, with enough laps (minimum 58) to award full points.
Perez managed to get a lead on Sainz with his mediums after the restart, but had to pay a price at the end of the race. Ferrari hoped the Red Bull cars would suffer grit and that’s exactly what happened. This, combined with the laggards, put immense pressure on Perez’s shoulders, but the Mexican was able to withstand it well and keep his car wide enough. The top four glided together like an accordion in a gripping final phase, although nothing changed in their positions. That meant Perez has his third F1 win and, more importantly, the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix behind him. Sainz was incredibly close, but had to settle for P2.
His teammate’s disappointment was even greater. Leclerc managed to dominate all weekend but saw it slip through his fingers (tactically) on Sunday. Because he even had to give way to Verstappen in P4, who was able to drive onto the famous podium for the second time in Monaco, the Dutchman ended up on the championship position on a Sunday when he had not expected it. George Russel and Lando Norris completed the top six, ahead of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton – who was particularly annoyed after a touché with Esteban Ocon. The Frenchman was handed a five-second time penalty, dropping him to P11 out of the points.