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F1 Monaco GP 2022: Brilliant Perez to effortful Sainz - Ranking the top racing moments

The F1 Championship 2022’s Monaco GP was held on Sunday. As Sergio Perez walked away with the top podium finish, we rank the top moments from the race.

Formula 1 F1 Monaco GP 2022: Brilliant Sergio Perez to effortful Carlos Sainz Jr - Ranking the top racing moments-ayh
Monte Carlo, First Published May 30, 2022, 11:52 AM IST

By Dev Tyagi

For the longest time, has one heard that Grand Prix races aren’t only decided by the raw pace and driving brilliance alone? It’s strategy that plays a considerable part and, often, a decisive role. The recently concluded 2022 Monaco Grand Prix was a race that became a shining example of that. For the second year running, did Ferrari emerge as a class of the field, but only to hand over the advantage to Red Bull in the end. That’s when theirs was the car with severe pace and perhaps even the dominant touch as seen by Charles Leclerc’s sensational pole on Saturday, which was his second at the celebrated street course. 

Yet, in the end, what transpired was a bungled up race for the Italian team on Sunday. With a low-key Leclerc down in fourth, his teammate, Sainz, in second, it was a day to forget for the Binotto-led team. But on the other hand, the Red Bulls sported the broadest smiles as Perez raced to a sensational win, his first at the venue, while Verstappen, the leader of the drivers’ standings, captured yet another podium.

So, how did the race pan out and which moments stood out as the top ones from the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix?

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Brilliant driving from Perez
At the outset, it’s easy to deny full credit to Perez by suggesting that a bungled up Ferrari strategy played beautifully into the hands of Checo Perez and hence, the victorious Red Bull team. Though, truth be told, in the latter stages of the 77-lap rain-delayed Grand Prix, Perez, the race-leader, came under immense pressure from Sainz, following in from second.

Theirs would be a cat-and-mouse chase that became intense from the onset of lap 36. For the next eight consecutive laps, there were moments where it did seem Perez would surrender the lead thanks to the pressure mounted by Sainz. Just that it never happened as the Mexican hung in there. 

On Lap 44, Sainz was barely six-tenths adrift of the race leader and gave it a real go. But Perez didn’t relent. Ten laps later, i.e., on lap 54 with just 23 left to play, the Spaniard tried again as he made a desperate lunge around Mirabeau, following it up with another attempt at around Rascasse only to see Perez defying his Ferrari. The noted Mexican driver crossed the checkered flag 1.15 seconds clear of the fast-catching Sainz, which testimony to his patient and clinical performance.

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The definitive Red Bull overcut
Not once did Red Bull appear under any pressure from Ferrari and executed their plans to perfection at Monaco. Although the Milton Keynes-based outfit was the first to box. On Lap 17, Perez came into the pits for a set of intermediates. At that time, Leclerc led the race from Sainz.

But, the pecking order was about to change. As Leclerc came into the pits a lap later (Lap 18), as did Verstappen, Sainz stayed out, taking the lead with Perez up into second. The top four at that time saw Sainz, Perez, Leclerc and Verstappen in that order. But, disaster would strike Ferrari two laps later as they decided to go for a double stacking come lap 21.

Asking both Sainz, followed by Leclerc, to box for the more harder Pirelli compounds, Ferrari took a bold gamble. But, it did not pay off. And it’s precisely here where fans experienced drama and Leclerc, heartbreak. Soon as he entered the pits as per instruction from the crew, Leclerc was suddenly told to stay out. 

But, there was little he could do, for he was already in. This communication error on the part of Ferrari cost their golden boy dearly. And, while Leclerc vented his anger over the team radio, both Red Bulls had jumped their archrivals. By that time, Perez was already in the lead of the race. The overcut had worked beautifully for Red Bull.

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Carlos Sainz’s valiant efforts
One of the most dramatic- if also scary- moments of the race occurred when Mick Schumacher crashed into the barriers at blazing speed, thus prompting first a virtual safety car period, followed by an actual safety car, soon after which the race was red-flagged. Perez held off Sainz brilliantly upon resumption, though the Spaniard soon had his moment.

While catching Perez, Sainz caught a wet patch on the pit straight track that could have compromised his race, which is when a last-minute brilliant save protected his sliding Ferrari. It was a move that his father, racing legend Carlos Sainz Sr. would undoubtedly be proud of. But, instead of being extra cautious about catching Perez or relenting somewhat, Sainz went for an all-out attack.

With just 23 laps remaining in the Monaco Grand Prix, he upped the ante of his pursuit of the track position. He brought down the gap to Perez to a little over half a second. Finally, with only ten minutes left in the race, Sainz all but passed Perez at the tunnel’s exit. Seconds earlier, he had attempted a desperate- if not successful- move by going on the outside of the Red Bull at portier.

On a track that was wet one moment but dry the very other, Sainz was bold and brilliant. Perhaps aware that the win wasn’t his for the taking, he kept coming hard at Perez and, frankly, deserves every bit of praise for his brave second, as does the eventual race-winner.

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Alonso’s fighting seventh became too much for Hamilton to handle
There’s a reason why Alonso, a double world champion, is rated so highly in Motorsport’s top flight. He’s someone who once set the fastest lap in an insipid McLaren at the 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix, a track where the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes were much faster.

Last year, at Hungaroring, he fended off Hamilton for four consecutive laps whilst driving an Alpine in a bid to allow Ocon, the race winner, to chip away at the front. Not that his equation with Hamilton changed much this time around. What changed, however, was just the venue, not Alonso’s lion-hearted effort as such.

Starting the 77-lap race from seventh on the grid, Alonso managed to retain his P7 after the race. And, in so doing, he defied Hamilton for the better part of the race. By lap 39, technically speaking, the halfway stage, Hamilton in his Mercedes was all over the Alpine of Fernando Alonso. 

The Stevenage-born soon realized that Alonso was akin to an unbreakable wall and that his Mercedes, still the faster of the two cars, could do little to catch the Spaniard off guard. It’s one thing to be pursued by another driver in a race, but something quite overwhelming to spot Hamilton in one’s rearview mirrors.

Not that it affected the former Ferrari driver a bit as Alonso managed to scrape through the charging Mercedes driver putting all the years of experience into play. That’s when the seventh-place Fernando Alonso and his pursuer, down in eighth, were separated by just seven-tenths of a second. Eventually, as the Oviedo-born Alpine driver crossed the checkered flag, he not only collected his best finish of the season but also left Lewis Hamilton utterly frustrated.

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