Max Verstappen extended his World Drivers’ Championship lead to a commanding 39 points with yet another dominant display around the streets of Monte Carlo, with runner-up Fernando Alonso taking a fifth podium of the season and Esteban Ocon earning a deserved third career podium.
There were some doubts over whether the Red Bull’s huge pace advantage would hold true around the slowest circuit on the Formula One calendar but those doubts quickly disappeared as Verstappen opened up an eight-second lead over Alonso in the opening 20 laps.
The race quickly turned into the procession many expected in Monaco, only to be turned on its head as the rain started falling with 27 laps remaining.
Drama rippled through the field, but Verstappen was unaffected thanks to a baffling decision by Aston Martin to put Alonso onto hard-compound tyres, a decision they quickly regretted as the Spaniard pitted again for a more suitable set.
Verstappen pitted soon after for his set of intermediates and, despite a few brushes with the wall, extended his lead over Alonso to 28 seconds by the chequered flag, also lapping teammate Sergio Perez twice.
|What||Spanish Grand Prix|
|Where||Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Barcelona|
|When||Friday 2nd June to Sunday 4th June|
|How to watch||Sky Sports F1|
|Odds||Max Verstappen 4/11, Sergio Perez 3/1, Fernando Alonso 10/1, Charles Leclerc 28/1, George Russell 33/1, Lewis Hamilton 33/1|
While Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Aston Martin’s will have revelled in the post-race parties in Monte Carlo, their teammates experienced very different emotions on race day.
Sergio Perez, who started from the back of the pack after a Q1 crash, managed to make up just four positions over the course of the Grand Prix to finish 16th.
He was lapped twice by his teammate and spent much of the latter portion of the race playing the role of data-gatherer for Verstappen.
With zero points on the board and his championship deficit now 39 points, his brief challenge for the title now looks on the brink of collapse.
Lance Stroll, starting 14th after a disappointing qualifying, put his Aston Martin through the wars from the opening lap, colliding with the Williams first before a clash with Perez.
His race finally ended as he lost his front wing at the hairpin in the chaos of the downpour, parking up and retiring the car shortly after.
There was much talk of the upgraded Mercedes W14 - originally scheduled for a debut in Imola last weekend - in the build up to the Monaco Grand Prix but expectations were tempered as the duo of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell qualified a disappointing sixth and eighth respectively.
However, when race day arrived the pair showed admirable, if unspectacular, pace in the revamped car, taking advantage of Ferrari’s woes to finish fourth and fifth.
Hamilton benefited from a perfectly-timed switch to intermediate tyres when the rain started to fall and George Russell, despite earning a five-second time penalty for an unsafe rejoin, had enough pace to keep the gap between himself and Charles Leclerc above five seconds to retain his position.
It could have been even better for the Silver Arrows if not for an error from Russell at Mirabeau.
The 25-year-old emerged from the pits in third, only to lock up at Mirabeau and force himself down the escape road, allowing Ocon and Hamilton to get past and earning himself the five-second time penalty in the process.
Attention will now turn towards the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, where Mercedes will get a better idea of how their upgrades to the W14 have affected the car on a more traditional race track.
Just a few weeks after Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi took concerns about the team’s performance public and warned of potential mid-season changes, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly produced excellent performances to earn Alpine their best points haul of the season.
Ocon drove a solid race to finish third after his exceptional qualifying performance and, while he never looked like challenging Verstappen or Alonso ahead, he rarely looked under threat for the final podium place.
Slightly further back, Pierre Gasly held onto seventh place, splitting the Ferraris to more than double Alpine’s total points for the season in one fell swoop.
The rich and famous will line the streets of Monte Carlo on Sunday afternoon for the 80th Monaco Grand Prix and Max Verstappen will start on pole for the third time this season and the first time at Monaco.
The most prestigious race on the calendar, a win at Monaco is valued above all others by the drivers due to the prestige, history and sheer skill it takes to simply get a Formula One car around the twisting streets of Monte Carlo.
Home to the slowest corner in Formula One - the hairpin at the Grand Hotel - passing is nigh-on impossible and track position is king, with 11 of the last 13 winners of the Monaco Grand Prix having started on the front row of the grid.
The last time a winner came from behind the front row was just last year but Sergio Perez - winner from third in 2022 - needs a miracle if he is to repeat that feat.
The Red Bull driver will start from the back of the pack after crashing in qualifying, while his teammate will be a long way ahead of him on pole.
The reigning world champion pipped Fernando Alonso to pole position, with the Aston Martin driver taking second ahead of Charles Leclerc and surprise-package Esteban Ocon in third and fourth respectively.
|What||Monaco Grand Prix|
|Where||Monte Carlo Circuit, Monaco|
|When||14:00, Sunday 28th May|
|How to watch||Sky Sports F1|
|Odds||Max Verstappen 1/3, Fernando Alonso 11/4, Carlos Sainz 16/1, Charles Leclerc 20/1, Esteban Ocon 40/1|
The mood will be very different on the two sides of the Red Bull garage after Saturday’s qualifying session, with the heartache of Sergio Perez’s Q1 crash contrasted by the jubilation of Max Verstappen, who secured his first ever pole position in Monaco.
The Dutchman produced a phenomenal final sector on his final flying lap to beat Fernando Alonso by eight-hundredths of a second, and he is huge favourite at 1/3 to win the Monaco Grand Prix for a second time.
With track position king at Monaco, Verstappen has a fantastic chance to make it four wins from six Grands Prix this season and extend his 14-point championship lead, especially with 11 of the last 13 Monaco Grands Prix being won from the front row of the grid.
The widening of that gap at the top of the leaderboard is likely to be greater than anybody expected coming into the weekend, too.
Sergio Perez binned it into the wall in Q1 and will start from the back of the pack and, at a track where passing is difficult and the advantage of Red Bull’s highly-efficient DRS package is minimal, his goal will now simply be to get in the points on Sunday.
Just across the border from their native France, Alpine enjoyed a tremendously successful qualifying session and could be in with an outside chance of claiming their first podium since the 2021 Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Esteban Ocon logged an impressive lap time in Q3 to briefly top the timing charts and, although he was unsurprisingly knocked off his perch, the Frenchman managed to split the Ferrari duo and will start fourth on the grid on Sunday.
Passing any of the cars ahead of him may be a tall order for Ocon but he could take advantage of any mishaps in front of him.
Monaco is a gruelling circuit to drive, combining physical and mental demands with perilously close barriers and tight corners, so a momentary loss of focus by any of the three drivers ahead would put Ocon in prime position for his second-ever podium at 11/8.
Monaco native Charles Leclerc has had a hard time at his home Grand Prix over the years, but it is certainly not for lack of trying.
The home hero took pole position in 2021 and 2022 but only managed to complete his first race around Monte Carlo last season.
Even that fourth-place finish was a painful one as the pole-sitter was undone by a series of baffling strategy decisions from the Ferrari pitwall.
Ferrari, who are 10/1 to have the winning car, look a lot more adept in the strategy department under Frederic Vasseur and the Scuderia do have one potentially significant advantage over their rivals.
Both Leclerc and teammate Carlos Sainz qualified in the top five and, with the Red Bulls split by the entire field and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll down in a dismal 14th position, they could use their numerical advantage to good effect when the pit window opens to perhaps push their competitors into a less-than-ideal scenario.
Even with the addition of hyped-up races in the US to the calendar, nothing epitomises the glitz and glamour of Formula 1 quite like the Monaco Grand Prix.
Taking place on public roads that wind around the casinos, hotels and bars of the harbourfront principality, Monaco provides a unique challenge to car and driver.
The road is narrow, there are no straights to speak of and the corners are the tightest and slowest of the year.
But despite that, it's also considered the most dangerous track on the calendar. The cars reach speeds of 180mph and, with metal barriers lining the circuit, there is no room for error.
The nature of the track means overtaking is virtually impossible, so securing a good grid position is more than half the battle - making Saturday's qualifying session perhaps the most important of the season.
|What||Monaco Grand Prix qualifying|
|Where||Monte Carlo Circuit, Monaco|
|When||15:00, Saturday 27th May|
|How to watch||Sky Sports F1|
|Odds||Max Verstappen 11/8, Charles Leclerc 13/8, Sergio Perez 7/2, Fernando Alonso 11/2, Carlos Sainz 22/1|
It is said that every driver wants to win two races more than any other - their home race and the Monaco Grand Prix.
For Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc those are one and the same thing, but the Monegasque marvel has had nothing but bad luck racing round the streets he grew up in.
In a run of woe stretching back to his Formula 2 days, Leclerc finished a race in Monaco for the first time last year, although he came home a bitterly disappointed fourth.
After claiming pole position and leading the early stages, the team botched his pit strategy as the track dried following a pre-race downpour.
Leclerc has been fastest in qualifying for the last two seasons in Monaco and is a 13/8 chance to make it a hat-trick.
Reigning world champion Max Verstappen arrives in Monaco leading the standings by 14 points from team-mate Sergio Perez.
The Red Bull duo have won all five races this year between them, recorded four one-two finishes and also taken four pole positions - two apiece.
So it's little wonder that the pair head the markets for Monaco, where Red Bull have won three of the last four races - with three different drivers.
However, this year their strength has been top speed and fast corners, while through the more technical sections of circuits they have lagged behind Ferrari and, in some cases, the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso.
Leclerc claimed the only non-Red Bull pole position of 2023 in Azerbaijan, thanks to his mastery of the twisty first half of the lap.
In the race he was powerless to hold off the Red Bulls along the gargantuan main straight, but that will give Leclerc cause for optimism in Monaco.
Red Bull's technical department are second to none and they will surely have some tricks up their sleeve to boost their performance in low-speed corners, but on paper they look more vulnerable in Monaco than at any race so far this season.
F1 veteran Fernando Alonso has had a frustrating time since his world championship double in 2005 and 2006, but the popular Spaniard is enjoying something of a renaissance having joined Aston Martin this season.
Alonso has been a model of consistency at the wheel of his green machine, with four third-place finishes and a fourth from the first five races of the season.
Like the Ferrari, the Aston has proved very nimble around twisty sections of track and Alonso will quietly fancy his chances of making a return to the top step of the Monaco podium for the first time since 2007.
Alonso's problem is that his car is much stronger in race conditions than over a single lap.
It's unlikely that Alonso - an 11/2 chance for his first pole position of the year - will start the race ahead of the Ferraris, who have shown their strongest form in qualifying.
That would leave the wily Spaniard relying on strategy to get past them in the race and, if he starts behind the Red Bulls as well, he would really face an uphill task. No-one has won the race starting outside the top three this century.
To earn pole position in Monaco you need speed, skill and a lot of luck.
Many a qualifying attempt around the narrow streets has been ruined by a slower car getting in the way and traffic can be a real issue in the first part of qualifying, as 20 cars take to the barely two-mile long circuit.
The last two years have also seen dramatic finishes to qualifying, with drivers having to abandon promising laps due to crashes further round the circuit bringing the session to a premature end.