< Back to 68k.news US front page

Verstappen Rules in Monaco's Rain

Original source (on modern site) | Article images: [1] [2]

Auto Racing|Verstappen Rules in Monaco's Rain


The Circuit de Monaco is one of the most iconic stops on Formula 1's schedule, but it is also one of its most treacherous. A hairpin descent. Walls close enough to kiss. A dark tunnel that ejects drivers into a burst of blinding sunlight.

And that's on a good day.

Sunday was not a good day: When rain started to fall during the Monaco Grand Prix and tires started to lose their grip, the conditions deteriorated so quickly that even the most seasoned teams might have been filled with trepidation.

But Max Verstappen is not the average driver. While others struggled, he simply sped away, claiming his fourth win of the season and the 39th of his career. It was his second win at Monaco in three years, and it extended his lead, and Red Bull's, in the season points standings.

"It was incredibly slippery," Verstappen said of managing the conditions, the first rain of the current Formula 1 season. "When you are that far in the lead you don't want to push too hard, but also you don't want to lose too much time.

"We clipped the walls a few times — it was super difficult out there — but that's Monaco."

Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin finished the race where he started it, in second place, and Alpine's Esteban Ocon did the same to claim a satisfying third. But neither was a serious challenger to Verstappen in a race that lasted nearly two hours as the speedy cars sometimes slowed to a crawl as drivers tried to hold their nerve.

Rain that had been on everyone's radar for the first half of the race finally arrived around Lap 50, and that set off a frantic series of pit stops and tire changes for the leaders. The problem was that it was not raining on every sector of the track initially, so tires that were fine on dry pavement suddenly became unmanageable where it was slick.

That produced frantic scenes and different decisions. Alonso, running second, pitted twice in quick succession after his team initially put on the wrong type of tires. Ferrari called its two cars into the pit at the same time to make changes. Other drivers lost vision and then control.

The combination of tight turns, close quarters and slick tires created dozens of nervy moments. Ferrari's Carlos Sainz Jr. glided into a barrier. Kevin Magnussen lost control of his Haas but escaped serious damage. Lance Stroll was not as lucky; he was forced out of the race when his Aston Martin could not go on after a late-race mishap.

Through it all, though, Verstappen kept his calm and his team made the right calls. He emerged from the chaotic few laps right where he was where he had been when the race began, when the rain began, when the changes began: in the lead.


"Hi. Mind if we come over on Sunday?"Credit...Stephane Mahe/Reuters


Soccer on the starting grid: Paris St.-Germain's Neymar ...Credit...Christian Bruna/EPA, via Shutterstock


... and the FIFA president, Gianni Infantino.Credit...Stephane Mahe/Reuters


Starting instructions: Careful, careful, carefullll. …Credit...Andrej Isakovic/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


Cleaning up after Carlos Sainz Jr. got his front wing too close to Esteban Ocon.Credit...Dan Mullan/Getty Images


Once it began to rain, Ferrari and every other team hustled to change tires without losing track position.Credit...Pool photo by Christian Bruna


Sometimes it took more than one try to get it right. Fernando Alonso, running second, had to pit twice.Credit...Andrej Isakovic/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


Vision disappeared with grip as the rain started to fall more steadily, adding to the drivers' degree of difficulty.Credit...Peter Fox/Getty Images


Verstappen's victory was his fourth in six races this season.Credit...Peter Fox/Getty Images

Verstappen. He was masterly in his strategy and race management, even if he couldn't help himself in the late going. Leading by more than 20 seconds, he gave his team one final scare when he brushed the barriers. But on a day when so much could have gone wrong, that, too, went right for him and Red Bull. His advantage over his teammate Sergio Pérez, who started last after a crash in qualifying and crept home 16th on Sunday, grew to 39 points, and to 51 over Alonso in third.

Ocon. His third-place finish in qualifying was a surprise to some, and his podium finish may be more of one. But he and Alpine managed their car and their position well all day, and were rewarded with the team's first podium finish of the year.


How are you feeling? Probably not as good as Esteban Ocon was on Sunday afternoon.Credit...Jeff Pachoud/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell quietly came home fourth and fifth. And while neither was ever in contention for the lead (or, really, for the podium), Mercedes will find hope in those performances. While Monaco's tight quarters didn't offer the best laboratory to test the improvements the team rolled out last week, Mercedes will leave with points and a trove of valuable data. For a team trying to catch up to its rivals in a hurry, that's a win.

After five starts, Red Bull's only race remains the one against itself:

Andrew Das joined The Times in 2006. An assistant editor in Sports, he helps direct coverage of soccer, the Olympics and international sports. More about Andrew Das

Josh Katz is a graphics editor for The Upshot, where he covers a range of topics involving politics, policy and culture. He is the author of "Speaking American: How Y'all, Youse, and You Guys Talk," a visual exploration of American regional dialects. More about Josh Katz

A version of this article appears in print on  , Section


, Page


of the New York edition

with the headline:

Rain Falls, but Verstappen's Dominance Is Not Dampened. Order Reprints | Today's Paper | Subscribe

< Back to 68k.news US front page