In a season filled with trials, challenges and late misfortunes, Sergio “Checo” Perez capitalized through two rain delays and a well-executed pit strategy to earn his redemption after winning the rain-shortened Monaco Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on Sunday, May 29.
The 32-year-old Perez from Guadalajara, Mexico, rolled off the grid in third place and with an intact Red Bull RB18 despite wrecking his car during Saturday’s qualifying session with Carlos Sainz. With the event red-flagged due to steady precipitation, the event commenced under a cautious pace before rolling under way on the third lap. In the early stages of the event, Perez raced in the top five while Leclerc dominated at his home track.
Then on Lap 18, Leclerc pitted before Perez pitted on Lap 23. This allowed Perez to cycle his way into the lead ahead of Sainz and Verstappen, who pitted during the same lap as Perez, while Leclerc was mired back in fourth place. Once the event was thrown under caution due to Mick Schumacher wrecking on Lap 27 in the Swimming Pool corner, which ripped the rear end of Schumacher’s Haas VF-22, the field was then brought back to pit road on Lap 30 to give the safety workers time to repair the barriers.
Once the event restarted on Lap 33 following another delay, Perez retained the lead ahead of teammate Verstappen and the two Ferraris, including Sainz. By then, the event was placed under a two-hour clock schedule for completion. Despite being challenged by Sainz in the final minutes of the scheduled clock, Perez was able to maintain the advantage and claim the checkered flag on Lap 64, 13 laps shy of the scheduled distance, for the win.
With the victory, Perez notched his third career win in Formula One, thus becoming the most successful Mexican competitor in F1 competition. He also notched his first victory at Monaco and his first Grand Prix victory since winning at Azerbaijan’s Baku City Circuit in June 2021.
“It’s a dream come true, as a driver you dream of winning here,” Perez said. “After your home race, there is no more special weekend. With the graining, to not make any mistakes, to keep Carlos behind was not easy. It’s a massive day for myself and my country.”
“When we saw the rain coming, we knew that it was all important to make sure we delivered the race with no mistake and that was critical today for us as a team, as a group, to deliver the results that we did,” Perez added. “It was just extremely special.”
Sainz, who made a bold save on Lap 24 and was challenging Perez for his first win in F1 while having issues finding a way to overtake Perez’s Red Bull RB18, finished in second place for the second time of this year, the second time in a row at Monaco and the fourth time of his career.
“It was, it was, we did everything we had to, my out-lap stuck behind a lapped car cost me the race win,” Sainz added. “You can understand my frustration, it’s how sport is sometimes. Checo was unlucky in Jeddah, today he drove a great race…I think we did all the right choices.”
Verstappen backed up his recent victories at Iola, Miami and Spain by finishing in third place for his fifth podium result of the season a year after winning the Monaco Grand Prix, thus placing both Red Bull Racing competitors on the podium.
“I think today as a team, we did a really good job in terms of executing that strategy,” Verstappen said. “That basically guided Checo [Perez] to the win and got myself on the podium. I’m pleased with that. If you would’ve told me yesterday that I would finish in front of Charles [Leclerc], I would’ve told you you’re crazy. That was an incredible team effort.”
Leclerc, who led the first 17 laps and was bitter with the pit call, settled in a disappointing fourth place at his home track followed by Mercedes’ George Russell. Lando Norris, who set the fastest lap of the event, came home in sixth place followed by Fernando Alonso, Sir Lewis Hamilton, Vallteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel.
The first competitor to finish outside of the top-10 points-paying results was Pierre Gasly followed by Esteban Ocon, who crossed the finish line in ninth place but was given a five-second time penalty due to an on-track collision earlier in the event with Hamilton.
Daniel Ricciardo settled in 13th followed by Lance Stroll, Nicholas Latifi and Guanyu Zhou while Yuki Tsunoda fell back to 17th after he went off the track twice in the closing minutes of the event. Alexander Albon retired in 18th place due to a mechanical issue.
Following his vicious wreck on Lap 27, Mick Schumacher ended up in 19th place while teammate Kevin Magnussen retired due to a reliability issue.
1. Sergio Perez, 25 points
2. Carlos Sainz, 18 points
3. Max Verstappen, 15 points
4. Charles Leclerc, 12 points
5. George Russell, 10 points
6. Lando Norris, nine points
7. Fernando Alonso, six points
8. Lewis Hamilton, four points
9. Valtteri Bottas, two points
10. Sebastian Vettel, one point
11. Pierre Gasly
12. Esteban Ocon
13. Daniel Ricciardo
14. Lance Stroll
15. Nicholas Latifi, +1 lap
16. Guanyu Zhou, +1 lap
17. Yuki Tsunoda, +1 lap
18. Alexander Albon – OUT, Retired
19. Mick Schumacher – OUT, Retired
20. Kevin Magnussen – OUT, Retired
With his third-place result, Max Verstappen continues to lead the driver’s standings by nine points over Charles Leclerc, 15 over teammate Sergio Perez, 41 over George Russell, 42 over Carlos Sainz, 75 over Sir Lewis Hamilton and 77 over Lando Norris.
In addition, Red Bull Racing RBPT continues to lead the constructors’ standings by 36 points over Ferrari, 101 over Mercedes, 176 over McLaren Mercedes, 194 over Alfa Romeo Ferrari and 195 over Alpine Renault.
Next on the 2022 Formula One schedule is Baku City Circuit for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which will occur on June 12.