Red Bull denied Sergio Perez the chance to race for a win in Spain with a team order that left the Mexican star unsettled.
Assuring him that he would be allowed to race to win this season, Perez moved to the Monaco Grand Prix with the Red Bull’s disappointing decision in his rearview mirror. He then won his first Formula One of the season.
Perez rebounded from a Red Bull team order a week ago to pick up a win in Sunday’s rain-ravaged Monaco Grand Prix.
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Perez’s third win of his career came after a questionable tactical call from Ferrari that gave pole-sitter Charles Lecler a win in his home circuit. Although Leclerc finished the race for the first time in four attempts, he finished fourth and allowed current world champion Max Verstappen to extend his lead in the standings.
Carlos Sange Jr. was second for Ferrari and Verstappen was third for the Red Bull. But Ferrari protested both Perez’s victory and the end of Verstapen, alleging that the Red Bull drivers had failed to stay to the right of the yellow line at the Pete Exit after their stop.
“We protested because we believe it was right to ask for clarification,” said Matia Binotto, Ferrari’s principal.
The FIA race stewards later dismissed both Ferrari protests.
Verstappen is nine points ahead of Leclerc in the standings; Leclerc has two wins this season, with Verstappen and Perez winning five as the Red Bull and Ferrari claim all seven races.
The victory went to Verstapen’s teammates on the streets of the glamorous city of Monaco, just a week after Perez was ordered to relinquish his leadership of Verstapen during the Spanish Grand Prix. Leclerc was eliminated from the race due to engine failure, and the Red Bull chose to capitalize on the finishing manipulation to beat Verstappen in Spain.
The team promised Perez that he would be allowed to race to win and kept his word on Sunday.
“You dream of winning it, and after your home race, there is no more special place to win,” Perez said, waving the Mexican flag. He is third in the standings and just six points behind Leclerc.
Red Bull team captain Christian Horner slapped Perez on the back as he walked beside him. Perez is in the year of a deal and both Red Bull and Perez have said talks over an extension will increase in the summer months.
“Checo was excited,” said Horner, who joined Perez on the podium and played Mexican music as the driver struggled to hold back tears and wipe his eyes. Perez is the first Mexican driver to win Monaco.
“This is a huge day for me and my country. I’m very happy I wore a Pedro Rodriguez helmet, “Perez said.” I’m sure he was looking at me and I hope he’s very proud. I am the only Mexican or Latin-American driver on the grid. It just shows how difficult it is for us in sports. “
Rodriguez, a Mexican driver who won two F1 races, died in 1971.
Worstapen celebrates with Perez, whom he considers the best teammate of his career. Verstappen told Perez after the race that the win could “help, a little bit” in Perez’s contract negotiations.
Leclerc leads from the pole and shouts angrily when asked to pit for a second tire change on the Lap 22 – at the same time as Sainz. His engineer misunderstood and shouted, “Stay out!” But it’s too late and Leclerc returns in fourth place.
“What are you doing?” Leckler shouted.
After the race, he spoke again about Ferrari.
“No words, no words. We can’t do that,” he radioed.
“It was a terrible disaster today,” Leclerc later said. “The victory was clearly in our hands. We had performances, we had everything. I don’t really understand the call. “
The Binotto team took the wrong call for Leclerc.
“I know he is not happy. It’s normal that he’s not happy because we just made a mistake. If you are the first and the fourth, it is clear that nothing worked, “said Binotto. “It simply came to our notice then. We will see why we made this decision. “
Leclerc also won the pole a year ago but never started because he crashed at the end of qualifying, and the car’s gearbox failed shortly before launch. In 2018 and 2019, Leclerc retired from the race with crash losses.
The race was delayed by 70 minutes due to heavy rain and started from the start rolling behind a safety vehicle.
Lap 30 was then red-flagged Mick Schumacher’s heavy crash three laps before his laughter car was cut in two. He was unharmed.
George Russell was fifth for Mercedes, ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso’s Alpine. Seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton was eighth for Mercedes – extending his unbeaten run with Silver Arrows to eight races – with Valteri Botas ninth for Alfa Romeo and Sebastian Vettel tenth for Aston Martin.
“Crazy afternoon. I thought the rain would make it more exciting but we still fought in our cars,” Hamilton said. “Probably one of the worst (season starts).”
The track gets wet due to incessant rain 20 minutes before the scheduled start at 3 pm local time.
The field is initially aligned and has completed a delayed formation lap behind the safety vehicle. But the drivers got out of their cars when the rain intensified and it became clear that it would be late early Sunday.
“With the length of the race and the delays and interruptions, it felt more like an NFL game than a Grand Prix,” said Mercedes team president Toto Wolf. “Initially it was raining heavily, then there was a problem with the connection to the TV broadcast which meant we couldn’t go.”
When the rain subsides enough to start the race, Leclerc leads the field with a rolling start and the fastest laps start on the clock.
Then came a team order that played directly into the hands of the Red Bull and left Lecler frustrated in Monaco.
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