Verstappen Dominates a Rain-Soaked F1 Monaco GP

Even the tire confusion caused by suddenly heavy rainfall couldn't slow Verstappen down.
Photo | Getty Images

When a sudden burst of rain soaked the 2023 Formula 1 Monaco grand prix, it seemed as if we would get a more thrilling ending than expected. And while the rain certainly added some excitement, it didn’t change the end result, as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen stood atop the podium anyway. However, it’s hard to complain about his dominant win, as it required some genuinely brilliant driving.

The majority of the Monaco GP was a two-horse race, between Verstappen and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso. After the first few laps, Alonso was so far ahead of the rotation of drivers in third place that he had enough time to pit without losing position for most of the race. Halfway through the race, some rain was expected to come but most teams felt that it would be mild, if it even rained at all. However, at around lap 55, rain suddenly fell hard, which caused some chaos. There were drivers slipping and sliding around the famous street circuit, as they fought for grip. Shockingly, there was only one retirement during the rain, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll.

Unfortunately for viewers, we were robbed of an even more thrilling end by Aston Martin’s overly ambitious tire change strategy. Just before the rain fell hard, both Alonso and Verstappen were still on their first set of tires, hards and mediums, respectively. Aston Martin wanted to put Alonso in a grippier tire while Verstappen was still on dangerously worn mediums on a damp track. However, as soon as Alonso pitted for medium slick tires, the rain came down like an anvil, forcing everyone else to switch to intermediates rain tires, including Verstappen. That instantly put Alonso at a disadvantage and forced him pit again for intermediates, once again putting him 20 seconds behind Verstappen. From there, Verstappen brilliantly handled the rain and not only held his lead over Alonso but continued to increase it.

Photo | Getty Images

When Aston Martin originally told Alonso to pit for mediums, he asked the team if they should instead switch to the intermediate rain tires. Had they done that, Alonso would have likely had a better chance of challenging Verstappen for the lead.

However, Verstappen absolutely earned this victory. Through incredibly slippery conditions, the Dutchman expertly managed his grip. Even though he clipped the wall a couple of times, as did several other drivers, Verstappen still managed to finish almost 30 seconds ahead of the second place Alonso.

There were some other noteworthy bits from this year’s Monaco GP, too. Alpine’s Esteban Ocon finished third, giving Alpine its first podium finish this year and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez made contact with other cars early in the race, causing him to finish 17th and was actually lapped by Verstappen at one point.

Monaco isn’t always an interesting race, as its lack of overtaking ability spoils some of the racing for viewers. However, the tire confusion and the late rain fall forced the drivers to bring their absolute A-game and Verstappen proved why his is better than everyone else’s.

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