Red Bull Racing Honda lead Formula 1 Championship
Red Bull Racing Honda secured a massive points haul over their opponents as Max Verstappen claims his first ever win at the Monaco GP supported by a great race from Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez, who finished fourth.
For the first time since 2013, Red Bull Racing Honda lead the Constructors’ Championship by one point over rival Mercedes with Max topping the Drivers’ Championship for the first time in his career.
The Dutchman lead start to finish after Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, due to start on pole, reported an issue on his lap to the grid and quickly returned to the pit lane and did not start the race.
It was a good day too for Sergio with the Mexican rising from eighth at the start to claim fourth at the flag thanks to excellent pace and a well worked strategy.
At the start, Max covered the inside line well to get away perfectly, on lap 34 he made his first and only stop. After taking on a set of hard tyres in two seconds dead, the Dutchman re-joined in second just behind Checo who had jumped up the order as the field pitted around him.
Speaking after the race, Max Verstappen said: “I’m super happy to win the Monaco Grand Prix. It’s such a tricky track and you need a smooth weekend so I’m very pleased with what we have achieved as a Team and of course with Honda. I just had to focus on my own race and make sure I had a clean start. Of course it all looked under control but to keep your focus for so many laps is the hardest part because it’s easy to relax when you’re in the lead and make a mistake, so you have to keep reminding yourself to leave your thoughts on the road and stay focused.
“I think pace wise, we were always in control because every time someone tried to push me in terms of lap time, we were able to respond and increase the gap. I’ve never been on the podium here and then the first time it’s a win, so it’s a bit of redemption for the other races I’ve had here. Looking ahead to Baku, Mercedes I think are still the ones to beat, they are very quick on the normal tracks.
“We are leading the championship and I hope of course to be there at the end of the season because that’s the most important thing so we cannot get carried away. But for now, a massive thank you to everyone in the factory and here at the track, we won the Monaco Grand Prix so let’s enjoy it.”
After a steady and uneventful opening stint, the race – as it so frequently does in Monaco – revolved around the pit stop. One of those to pit ahead of Sergio Perez was Sebastian Vettel and a good stop for the Aston Martin driver saw him jump both Hamilton and Gasly. That was the cue for the Team to then pit Checo and after a couple of superb in-laps – the first being the fastest of the race to that point – the Red Bull driver was able to make a 2.8s stop and still re-join ahead of Vettel, in a superb fourth where he finished.
Discussing his P4, Sergio Perez, said: "Today is a great day for the Team and I’m very happy for Max, he did a mega job and now we are leading both championships. The Team did a fantastic job on strategy and the communication throughout the race was excellent. We saved the tyres and used them when we needed to which was key and we did two or three qualifying laps to jump the queue of cars to get fourth. I was thinking of the long game and getting the points which is important for the Team.
“The cars are just so wide these days but it is what it is. We managed to minimise the damage from Saturday and I think once I’m more comfortable with the car in qualifying, we’ll be in serious contention and fighting for victories as I’m happy and pretty much there on Sundays.”
Commenting on a superb Monaco GP for both drivers and the team, Team Principal Christian Horner exclaimed: “It’s a phenomenal day for the Team. Max was disappointed yesterday that we didn’t get to see him deliver a pole position lap but he dealt with the frustration well and when the opportunity presented itself today he seized it with both hands, driving faultlessly from start to finish to deliver our fifth Monaco victory.
“Checo also drove an incredibly strong race, the strategy worked well and he had brilliant pace in clean air enabling him to finish fourth. It’s Honda’s first win here since Senna in 1992, the first time they’ve led the championship since 1991 and we have to credit them for their hard work in helping us get to this point. They’ve done a great job and to have three Honda cars in the top six is a fantastic result.
“As a Team we have great strength in depth and finishing first or second in the first five races of the season is a phenomenal example of teamwork and our ability to fight. There is a long way to go in this championship but we should always enjoy the wins. Commiserations to Charles and Ferrari, it was a tough day for them but great to see them back up there in the mix. The championship is very tight at the top and today was an important step for us.”
Next up on the calendar is another street circuit at Baku for the Azerbaijan GP in two weeks’ time and the team will be looking to capitalise on their outstanding performance in the principality.