Max Verstappen survived a long stint on fading tyres, late rain and tricky conditions to win the 2023 FIA Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix ahead of Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso. Alpine’s Esteban Ocon took a well worked first podium of the year for the French team.
At the start of the race Verstappen got away well from pole position to take the lead ahead of Alonso and over the opening phase of the race, the Dutchman built a solid lead over his Spanish rival. By lap 25 the championship leader had carved out an almost 12-second advantage at the front, though having started on medium tyres, the Dutchman knew that his lead would come under threat as Alonso went deeper into the race on hard tyres.
Behind the leading pair Ocon was proving to be the cork in a bottle containing Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and the second Ferrari of Charles Leclerc and all three chose to pit for medium tyres to try to escape the lengthening train.
The skies above Monaco were darkening, however, and at the front Verstappen was now facing a dilemma. Alonso, running on hard tyres, could hold station and wait for the rain to arrive before making a sole pit stop. By contrast, Verstappen was finding the going increasingly difficult on his starting mediums. If the rain held off and he was forced to pit for new hard tyres he would be at the mercy of Alonso should the rain then fall.
The Red Bull driver was told to stay out as long as he could but with his front left tyre looking increasingly angry, he radioed his team to say he didn’t know how long he could go on.
As the race edged towards its final 20 laps, though, the Dutchman’s prayers were answered. Rain began to fall at the top of the circuit and soon began to drift towards the harbour.
Alonso chose to pit on lap 54, but crucially, the Spaniard opted to switch his hard tyres for a set of mediums. It proved to be the wrong choice and as the rain intensified Verstappen was finally called in to shed his ragged mediums for a set of intermediate Pirellis.
Alonso was forced to return to the pits for a set of the green-walled tyres and when he emerged he was more than 20 seconds behind Verstappen and despite the treacherous conditions the Dutchman was firmly in control.
Alonso tried to close in but eventually Verstappen took the flag almost 28 seconds ahead of the Aston Martin driver at the chequered flag.
Behind them Ocon converted his third-place start into a third F1 podium, despite coming under heavy pressure from Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in the wet closing stages of the race.
Hamilton finished fourth ahead of team-mate George Russell, who was handed a five-second penalty by the race stewards for rejoining the circuit unsafely at Mirabeau.
Despite the penalty Russell was still able to clinch fifth ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. Pierre Gasly was seventh for Alpine ahead of the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz and the McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri rounded out the points positions.
2023 FIA Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix – Race
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda RBPT 78 1:48’51.980
2 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin/Mercedes 78 1:49’19.901 27.921
3 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 78 1:49’28.970 36.990
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 78 1:49’31.042 39.062
5 George Russell Mercedes 78 1:49’48.264 56.284
6 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 78 1:49’53.870 1’01.890
7 Pierre Gasly Alpine/Renault 78 1:49’54.342 1’02.362
8 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 78 1:49’55.371 1’03.391
9 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 77 – 1 lap
10 Oscar Piastri McLaren/Mercedes 77 – 1 lap
11 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 77 – 1 lap
12 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri/Honda RBPT 77 – 1 lap
13 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 77 – 1 lap
14 Alexander Albon Williams/Mercedes 77 – 1 lap
15 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Honda RBPT 76 – 2 laps
16 Sergio Pérez Red Bull/Honda RBPT 76 – 2 laps
17 Nico Hülkenberg Haas/Ferrari 76 – 2 laps
18 Logan Sargeant Williams/Mercedes 76 – 2 laps
19 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 70 – Not running
Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 53 – Retirement