Max Verstappen took advantage of Charles Leclerc’s gearbox malfunction to lead Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix from start to finish and move into the lead of the FIA Formula One World Championship for the first time ever.
With Leclerc’s Ferrari unable to take its pole position on the starting grid, Dutchman Verstappen held off Valtteri Bottas into the first corner and controlled the race for his first Monaco GP win ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. and McLaren’s Lando Norris in third.
Red Bull Racing Honda teammate Sergio Pérez produced an assured drive to bank fourth place with Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda’s Pierre Gasly fending off Lewis Hamilton for sixth and Japanese rookie Yuki Tsunoda finishing 16th in his debut at the iconic F1 race.
Verstappen, 23, now leads the driver standings by four points from reigning champion Hamilton after five of the 23 races with the paddock heading to Baku next for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on June 6.
Red Bull Racing Honda
MAX VERSTAPPEN – 1st
“I’m super happy to win the Monaco Grand Prix. It’s such a tricky track and you need a smooth weekend so I’m very pleased with what we have achieved as a Team and of course with Honda. I just had to focus on my own race and make sure I had a clean start. Of course it all looked under control but to keep your focus for so many laps is the hardest part because it’s easy to relax when you’re in the lead and make a mistake, so you have to keep reminding yourself to leave your thoughts on the road and stay focused. I think pace wise, we were always in control because every time someone tried to push me in terms of lap time, we were able to respond and increase the gap. I’ve never been on the podium here and then the first time it’s a win, so it’s a bit of redemption for the other races I’ve had here. Looking ahead to Baku, Mercedes I think are still the ones to beat, they are very quick on the normal tracks. We are leading the championship and I hope of course to be there at the end of the season because that’s the most important thing so we cannot get carried away. But for now, a massive thank you to everyone in the factory and here at the track, we won the Monaco Grand Prix so let’s enjoy it.”
SERGIO PEREZ – 4th
“Today is a great day for the Team and I’m very happy for Max, he did a mega job and now we are leading both championships. The Team did a fantastic job on strategy and the communication throughout the race was excellent. We saved the tyres and used them when we needed to which was key and we did two or three qualifying laps to jump the queue of cars to get fourth. I was closing on Lando but he had good tyres left and I never really had a clear chance at him. I was thinking of the long game and getting the points which is important for the Team. The cars are just so wide these days but it is what it is. We managed to minimise the damage from Saturday and I think once I’m more comfortable with the car in qualifying, we’ll be in serious contention and fighting for victories as I’m happy and pretty much there on Sundays.”
CHRISTIAN HORNER – Team Principal
“It’s a phenomenal day for the Team. Max was disappointed yesterday that we didn’t get to see him deliver a pole position lap but he dealt with the frustration well and when the opportunity presented itself today he seized it with both hands, driving faultlessly from start to finish to deliver our fifth Monaco victory. Checo also drove an incredibly strong race, the strategy worked well and he had brilliant pace in clean air enabling him to finish fourth. It’s Honda’s first win here since Senna in 1992, the first time they’ve led the championship since 1991 and we have to credit them for their hard work in helping us get to this point. They’ve done a great job and to have three Honda cars in the top six is a fantastic result. As a Team we have great strength in depth and finishing first or second in the first five races of the season is a phenomenal example of teamwork and our ability to fight. There is a long way to go in this championship but we should always enjoy the wins. Commiserations to Charles and Ferrari, it was a tough day for them but great to see them back up there in the mix. The championship is very tight at the top and today was an important step for us.”
Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
PIERRE GASLY – 6th
“It was a pretty long race and obviously with Lewis behind it wasn’t easy, I couldn’t make any mistakes and just had to focus on my own race ahead, but I really enjoyed it. Finishing P6 today is good, I think we can be happy with that result and it’s the best performance of the season so far. The car felt really good in the first stint but once we put the Hards on we really struggled, and it made it pretty difficult on a couple of occasions with Lewis but I’m happy we managed to keep him behind. I believe we took the right strategy today, we had to cover ourselves with Lewis’ pitstop, but it didn’t quite work out. It was very tight between Seb and I going up the hill, I was quite surprised to see him and there was maybe just a finger between our tyres, but it was great racing. The car performed well today, even if I think we could have achieved more and there are definitely some areas we still need to improve in compared to some of the cars we’re fighting against. I’m still pleased with this result though, it was important for us to be back up near the front and getting some big points again was great for the team.”
YUKI TSUNODA – 16th
“Starting from P16 we knew it wouldn’t be easy. I struggled for grip in the first lap compared to other cars around me and we lost a few positions, after that I was constantly behind cars, despite having strong pace, so wasn’t able to make my way forward. The main thing for me is my Qualifying performance and how I can improve this. I’m going to work hard ahead of the next race so that we can hopefully be in a point scoring position next time out.”
JODY EGGINTON – Technical Director
“Leaving Monaco with points is obviously good. However, we’re slightly disappointed that it’s not more! Sebastian managed to sneak in front of Pierre at the pitstop, which is quite frustrating for us, as he’d had a solid opening stint, but this is something we can go away and review as a team. Yuki’s race was fairly uneventful, given his Qualifying position it was clear his race would be heavily influenced by traffic, we tried to do something with the strategy during the race, but it was fairly straight-forward so what we could do was limited. He drove a clean race with no mistakes and for sure has picked up experience which he will put to good use going forward. The package has performed reasonably well here and although the next races are quite different the expectation is that we can also be competitive in the upcoming Grands Prix.”
FRANZ TOST – Team Principal
“Congratulations to Red Bull Racing, Max Verstappen and Honda for this fantastic victory here in Monaco. It was also nice to see spectators here in the grandstands, which added a good atmosphere for the race. Pierre started the race from sixth position and had a good start, defending well against Hamilton and managed his tyres in a very professional way. We called him in for the pitstop on to the Hards and even if we struggled while bringing them to the right window, he could defend well against Hamilton. As for Yuki, he’s never competed here in any other category, so this was his first race in Monaco, a track which is of course quite a difficult one to learn in a Formula 1 car. After showing a very good performance in FP1 he had a small accident in FP2, but he could continue to grow his confidence around the track during the Saturday morning session. Qualifying was more difficult for him, he lost some time with the weighbridge and wasn’t able to complete an additional lap, which meant he just missed out on Q2 by a small margin. Today he had a clean race and I’m sure he has gained a lot of experience here in Monaco, which will help him in the future. It’s good that we finished P6 as now we’re back where we started the season and I hope that we can have similar performances in the upcoming races.”