F1: Sergio Perez victorious in Monaco Grand Prix mayhem as Charles Leclerc’s home-race curse continues

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Sergio Perez won the maddest Formula One Monaco Grand Prix for years as Charles Leclerc’s home-race curse continued in agonising fashion.

Chaotic scenes were sparked by a downpour just five minutes before the scheduled start time as the race was delayed, to allow mechanics to hastily scuttle down the grid with wet tyres.

Initially, a nine-minute delay became 16 minutes before formation laps under the safety car were abandoned with a red flag thrown to bring the pack back into the pits.

Racing got underway over an hour after the initial start time with Leclerc leading a Ferrari one-two after a rolling start.

Attention quickly turned to when the Wet tyres could be dropped for Intermediates, or even straight to dry tyres, with Pierre Gasly’s early stop demonstrating the sort of pace available to anyone willing to join the Frenchman.

Sergio Perez plumped for the Inters first, from third place, before Leclerc and Max Verstappen headed through. The Red Bulls’ pace on the new tyre delivered a stunning overcut as Ferrari pulled in both Carlos Sainz and Leclerc for a double-stacked pit stop.

Panic ensued over team radio as a furious Leclerc firstly lost the lead to his teammate, and after Red Bull bolted on fresh Hards for their double-stacked stop Perez came out in front ahead of Sainz, Verstappen and the pole-sitter - now back in fourth.

With only 30 laps of the planned 77 completed, a second red flag came out after Mick Schumacher’s Haas spun into the barrier. The wreckage, featuring a detached rear-end, was sizeable but the young German walked away from the scene.

Ferrari made the bold move of leaving both Sainz and Leclerc on Hard tyres for the final 35 minutes of the race, which would hit the two-hour time limit after the restart instead of reaching the allotted 77 laps.

And yet the Spaniard kept the pace with the Red Bull, something which could not be said of his seventh-placed countryman Fernando Alonso who backed up to such an extent that the entire rest of the pack followed him through in long Monte Carlo traffic jam.

Sainz drew right up to the tail of Perez and nearly took a bite out of it at the hairpin before the Mexican safely guided home his first-ever race win around the streets of Monaco.

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