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F1 Monaco GP: Verstappen survives late rain to defeat Alonso

Max Verstappen overcame a sudden downpour at the Monaco Grand Prix to claim his fourth Formula 1 victory of 2023, beating Fernando Alonso by 27.9 seconds.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The Dutchman converted pole position successfully despite having to contend with the rigours of a wet race among the final third of the contest, extending his stint on the medium tyres to cover off the looming threat of rain.

With a dry start to proceedings, the medium-shod Verstappen resisted the challenge from Alonso on the hards at the start, and immediately began to cement his lead early on with a strong opening salvo of laps to build a buffer.

Alonso was unable to match his fellow two-time champion's lap times in the first phase of the race, as worries over a puncture suggested that the Aston Martin was not handling correctly - although his team informed him that all was well when checking tyre pressures.

The lead reached 11.8s by lap 25 of 78, although this had shrunk slightly by the 30th lap, with the gap 10.6s over Alonso.

At this juncture, Verstappen had begun to close in on traffic as he was angling to lap the backmarkers - including team-mate Sergio Perez.

This allowed Alonso to cut the arrears as Verstappen attempted to barge his way through the rearguard action, despite Perez doing his best to make his fellow Red Bull driver's life easier.

The gap shrunk to 5.6s, but then began to grow once more as Alonso was now firmly ensconced in the tailback as Verstappen had largely cleared it.

Radio reports over the severity of rain began to intensify, and Red Bull elected to hold off pitting Verstappen to ensure he was poised to take advantage of a well-timed pitstop.

As light showers grew into heavier rainfall, particularly in the middle sector, it prompted a number of backmarkers to bolt on the intermediate compound.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Alonso then pitted on the 54th lap, but Aston Martin made a lamentable decision to bolt mediums onto the Spaniard's car just as the rain continued to fall.

This prompted him to pit again on the following tour, along with Verstappen, to collect the intermediates - but the gap was well over 20s at this point.

Despite Alonso's best efforts to close the deficit over the remaining 20 laps, getting it down to 17.8s at one point as Verstappen could not switch on his intermediate Pirellis as swiftly, the Red Bull driver grew in strength and continued to build his advantage.

Alonso's arrears continued to increase and he eventually had to concede, finishing almost 28s behind at the chequered flag.

Esteban Ocon converted his third-place start into a third F1 podium, despite coming under heavy pressure from Carlos Sainz in the early stages.

Sainz and Ferrari had been attempting to goad Alpine into pitting Ocon early to gain track position, but the Anglo-French squad did not bite.

On the 52nd tour, Sainz had his best shot at passing Ocon as the rain had emerged, but went off at the Nouvelle Chicane and had to give way.

Ocon then came under attack from Lewis Hamilton during the rain-hit phase of the race as the Mercedes duo had undercut the Ferraris, but the Frenchman held firm to keep hold of a podium place.

Hamilton finished fourth ahead of team-mate George Russell, who copped a 5s penalty for rejoining the circuit unsafely at Mirabeau; having slid off, he reversed and went into the path of a hapless Perez, who made contact with the Mercedes.

Nonetheless, Russell's advantage over Charles Leclerc ensured he kept fifth, as the Monegasque overtook team-mate Sainz as they were scrabbling around on medium tyres prior to their pitstop - and a double-stack to swiftly bring the SF-23s onto intermediates hurt Sainz further.

This put the Spaniard behind Pierre Gasly, whom he could not pass despite lingering behind his gearbox.

Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri completed the point-scorers, the McLaren duo making carbon-copy Turn 1 passes on Yuki Tsunoda on consecutive laps as the AlphaTauri driver struggled with his brakes.

Verstappen opened his championship lead to 39 points over Perez following the Mexican's miserable race, where he pitted five times having started last, and ultimately finished 16th.

F1 Monaco GP - Race results:

Cla Driver Chassis Laps Gap
1 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull 78  
2 Spain Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 78 27.921
3 France Esteban Ocon Alpine 78 36.990
4 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 78 39.062
5 United Kingdom George Russell Mercedes 78 56.284
6 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari 78 1'01.890
7 France Pierre Gasly Alpine 78 1'02.362
8 Spain Carlos Sainz Ferrari 78 1'03.391
9 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren 77  
10 Australia Oscar Piastri McLaren 77  
11 Finland Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 77  
12 Netherlands Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri 77  
13 China Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 77  
14 Thailand Alex Albon Williams 77  
15 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 76  
16 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull 76  
17 Germany Nico Hulkenberg Haas 76  
18 United States Logan Sargeant Williams 76  
  Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas 70  
  Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin 53  

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