Monaco GP 2022: The Jewel In The Crown Review07 Jun
Winning the Monaco GP is always a momentous moment in a racing driver’s career. In 2022, it was Mexico’s Sergio Perez who enjoyed that experience for the first time after winning a thrilling race at the principality.
The Oracle Red Bull Racing driver added the third Formula 1 race victory of his career, but it was one that looked highly unlikely earlier in the weekend when the Mexican spun into the barriers at the end of qualifying during a mightily tense session on Saturday.
Instead it was home favourite Charles Leclerc who started off strongest as Ferrari claimed a one-two in the crucial timed session to lock out the front row of the grid ahead of their Red Bull rivals. It was the fifth pole position for Monagasque star Leclerc in ‘22, hoping to put at end to his home race hoodoo at long last after being plagued by bad luck in recent years.
One for the Paddock Club to lap up, the race would have an unexpected curveball thrown into the mix on Sunday however. Downpours left the famous street circuit saturated, while fans and F1 personnel alike took cover as the cars circulated under safety car conditions.
When action did get underway after delays, it would be Ferrari looking on course to avenge its bad luck from Spain, Leclerc leading Sainz around on wet tyres - the decision on what rubber to use playing a huge role in deciding the final outcome.
After a change to intermediates for most, including former championship leader Leclerc and current leader Max Verstappen, it would be the wet-shod cars of Sainz and Perez coming to the fore by staying out, only for Perez to undercut his Spanish rival on the crucial change to slicks. A double stack from both teams went the way of Red Bull as the two cars moved up to first and third, pushing Leclerc off the podium as his jinx threatened to return.
Tension was palpable. Perez had his chance to win in Monaco, and he defended his position resolutely to ensure a first win of the season and keep up the pressure on Ferrari, going 36 points clear of the Prancing Horse in the Constructors’ Championship. Sainz claimed a close second in the shortened race, Verstappen extending his points lead to nine over Leclerc with third place on the podium ahead of the frustrated home-grown talent.
George Russell again shone brightly in difficult conditions to cement his fifth place in the Drivers’ Championship for the slowly improving Mercedes team, Lando Norris improving to finish sixth in the race for McLaren ahead of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time champion sixth in the points and often finding himself on the wrong side of lady luck thus far in ‘22. His old team-mate Valtteri Bottas made the top 10 for the sixth time in seven races meanwhile for the rejuvenated Alfa Romeo squad.
With seven races gone, the party of Monaco winds down and the F1 circus next heads to Baku for the equally picturesque Azerbaijan GP, which takes place over the weekend of 11-12 June.