Verstappen beats Alonso to win rain-affected Monaco Grand Prix
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen survived a mid-race downpour to win the Monaco Grand Prix from Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso.
Verstappen appeared to be cruising at the front, but his race was given added jeopardy by his team delaying his pit stop in an attempt to coincide it with the rain.
And Aston Martin appeared to miss a chance to beat Verstappen by pitting Alonso for a set of dry tyres as the rain was intensifying.
Had Alonso been given treaded tyres, his stop – while Verstappen was still on untreaded slicks – could have led to the Spaniard taking the lead.
But Alonso had to stop again for intermediate tyres on the following lap, when Verstappen did the same, and his victory chances were gone.
Verstappen’s win, his fourth in six races this year, moves him 39 points clear of team-mate Sergio Perez in the championship.
The Mexican had a nightmare race after starting from the back following his crash in qualifying and finished down in 17th place.
Rain causes chaos
The rain started lightly on lap 51 and intensified slowly over the next few laps, but the fact it was initially largely over the section from Casino Square to the tunnel made decisions as to tyre choices difficult.
By lap 54, with 24 to go, half of the track was wet and half dry, and Verstappen leading from Alonso, Mercedes’ George Russell, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Verstappen had been hanging on with his fading medium tyres much longer than he wanted as Red Bull waited for the rain, while Alonso behind him on hard tyres was more comfortable but 13 seconds adrift.
Aston Martin chose that lap to pit Alonso, but they fitted medium, untreaded slick tyres, rather than the treaded intermediates that Russell, Hamilton, Ocon and the other Alpine of Pierre Gasly all chose when they pitted 30 seconds or so later.
Verstappen and the Ferrari drivers stayed out, but the intensifying rain led to the Dutchman hitting the wall at Portier and Sainz spinning at Mirabeau.
Had Alonso been on intermediates, it looked at face value as if might have had a chance to make up enough time to pass Verstappen when the Red Bull driver pitted the next time around, although a quick analysis of the lap times suggested he probably would not have made it.
Instead, both had to pit on lap 55 to fit intermediates and Verstappen retained the lead.
Alonso’s advantage over the rest of the leading runners, all of whom had pitted other than Russell, ensured he maintained second place, while Ocon vaulted back into the third place he had held from the start but lost as the pit-stop period started before the rain developed.
Alonso closed on Verstappen quite quickly in the first laps after changing tyres, cutting his advantage by five seconds in as many laps while also lapping seconds faster than any other driver in the field.
But Verstappen then began to edge away again and controlled the race to the end. (BBC Sport)