Max Verstappen won the Monaco Grand Prix to rip the world championship lead off Lewis Hamilton, who finished a miserable seventh despite setting the fastest lap.
On a dramatic day, which saw both Mercedes and Ferrari in meltdown, Red Bull’s Verstappen won serenely from the front. This is the first time the 23-year-old has topped the standings in his life – by four points after five races.
What madness unfolded around him, with Charles Leclerc retiring from the race before it began. He should have been on pole for Ferrari but he crashed after setting the quickest time in qualifying on Saturday, his car a crumpled mess.
The lights went out. Verstappen – starting at the front from second on the grid, with what would have been Leclerc’s place left empty – got away cleanly, holding off Valtteri Bottas down the inside into the first corner, Sainte Devote. Hamilton started sixth, his chances of victory minimal before the lights went out.
The timing of Hamilton’s first pit stop on lap 29 of 78 caused him to move back two places – a mistake that gave rise to some tetchy exchanges on the radio, when the Aston Martin of Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull of Sergio Perez emerged ahead of him when they stopped a few laps later.
Hamilton: ‘I don’t understand, guys. I saved the tyres to go longer and we stopped before everyone.’
More woe for Mercedes followed a lap later when they could not change Bottas’ front right wheel. The nut was melded on to the axle and couldn’t be prised off. The Finn’s race was over.
Carlos Sainz finished in second place for Ferrari, nine seconds behind Verstappen – a ray of consolation for them. It was his first podium since joining the Scuderia this year. Lando Norris, of McLaren, continued his very fine form, by coming third, lapping his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in the process.
Hamilton came in for a second set of new tyres before rattling off the fastest lap time by some margin.