Sergio Perez has won a rain-delayed, crash-halted and ultimately nail-biting Monaco Grand Prix for Red Bull to make his dream come true as another has evaporated for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
“This is us! Come on, vamos,” screamed Perez on Sunday as he crossed the finish line 1.1 seconds ahead of Sainz with Verstappen a further 0.3 behind.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “After your home race it’s the most special race to win.”
The Mexican’s team mate Max Verstappen finished third to stretch his Formula One championship lead over Leclerc, who was fourth, to nine points after seven of 22 races.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was second, for the second year in succession.
Leclerc had started on pole position but Ferrari were outsmarted on strategy and he was leapfrogged by the Red Bull drivers in the pitstops.
The win was the third of Perez’s career and second for Red Bull, and it ended with a thrilling chase on a treacherous street circuit where the difference between success and failure is measured in millimetres. The top four at the chequered flag were separated by a mere 2.9 seconds.
The race started after more than an hour’s delay, with the safety car guiding the field around for formation laps on the wet asphalt before peeling off into the pits as Leclerc led the rolling start.
The Monegasque stayed ahead until lap 18, when he pitted to change from wet tyres to intermediates and found himself behind Perez, who had come in a lap earlier and made the ‘undercut’ work, and Sainz.
An angry Leclerc dropped to fourth after Ferrari called him in again for slicks and then told him, too late, to stay out after Sainz also pitted and went directly from wets to the dry tyres.
Red Bull successfully double-stacked their drivers, with the order settling at Perez leading, ahead of Sainz, Verstappen and Leclerc.
The safety car was again deployed on lap 27 after Mick Schumacher crashed his Haas heavily at the exit to the swimming pool complex, the car spinning into the barriers and splitting in two.
The race was then halted on the 30th lap, before a rolling re-start 20 minutes later, as marshals repaired the Tecpro energy-absorbing barrier that had been bent out of shape.