Monaco (AFP), May 29 – Sergio Perez won a rain-troubled Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday as pole-sitter Charles Leclerc suffered another dose of bad luck on his home circuit.
Perez, the first Mexican to win at the iconic circuit, took his third career victory ahead of Carlos Sainz for Ferrari.
Perez’s Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen moved into third to extend his world championship lead over fourth-placed Leclerc after a failed pit stop strategy.
A deluge caused chaos and an hour delay at the start but Perez kept his composure for a “dream” victory after his crash in qualifying 24 hours earlier.
“Checo, you have won Monaco, what a brilliant journey,” Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told him on team radio.
“It’s a dream come true. As a pilot, you dream of winning here. After your home race, there is no more special weekend to win,” said the man of the hour.
“It’s a huge day for me and my country,” added Perez, for whom it was a remarkable change of fortune after he was frustrated a week ago when he gave up the lead in the race in Spain to Verstappen under the team orders.
World champion Verstappen extended his lead over Leclerc to nine points in the battle for the drivers’ title. Perez moved just six points behind Leclerc in third.
Leclerc was furious to see a winning hand fall apart after losing time on one of the many pit stops.
“No words. We can’t do this,” he told his team.
George Russell took fifth for Mercedes ahead of Lando Norris for McLaren, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton in the other Mercedes.
The seventh round of the championship was hit by a deluge before its scheduled start at 1300 GMT, with the downpour creating scenes of chaos in the crowded confines of the narrow port pit lane.
Rain had been predicted in advance, but few teams seemed to expect Monaco’s notoriously temperamental microclimate to obey instructions as the hot sun continued until the final minutes before the lights went out.
After three days of perfect Riviera weather, the expected rain clouds arrived and broke immediately after the national anthem, putting Race Control into safety overdrive and creating chaos on the grid.
But no sooner had the cars been out for a formation lap more than an hour late when heavy rain fell, leaving plenty of water on the narrow stretches of asphalt on the barrier-lined street circuit.
This resulted in the race being red-flagged and all cars and drivers returned to a saturated pit lane before the rain stopped allowing the race to proceed under a rolling start.
Formula 1 returns for the eighth round of the championship in Azerbaijan on June 12.