Red Bull’s Sergio “Checo” Pérez became the first Mexican driver to take victory at the Monaco Grand Prix, the most famous circuit on the Formula One calendar.
“It’s a massive day for myself, for my country,” Pérez expressed.
The iconic race started off on a slippery slope due to drastic rainfall that delayed the start of the grand prix. The hold up pushed the leading teams to gamble with tyre strategy while they waited for the track to dry.
According to a representative for the governing Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), because some drivers would be disadvantaged by wet asphalt while others were on the dry, it was decided that a rolling start would be held rather than a usual standing one.
On social media, several fans slammed asking why the world’s best drivers could not be let loose in the rain. They recalled earlier races in Monaco where the race was not delayed even in heavy downpours.
Yet after over an hour of wait time, the race began in that abnormal way. Instead of forming on the grid and starting at the lights, the drivers followed behind the safety car and launched after a warm up lap.
The Build up to the Checkered Flag
Heavy crashes, a car split in half, red flags, close-saves, team mistakes, and more. The 2022 Monaco Grand Prix was a roller coaster ride for everyone including the viewers.
F1 fans all around the world were up on their feet without blinking an eye watching the final laps of the eventful race, and all eyes were on the Red Bulls and Ferraris. Pérez was running in first position with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz behind him, then Red Bull’s 2021 World Champion Max Verstappen in third, and finally Ferrari’s wonderkid Charles Leclerc in fourth.
Lap 53: Sainz only 0.6 seconds behind Pérez after grabbing the DRS. With both Red Bulls struggling on their medium tyres, Leclerc is putting pressure on Verstappen with the goal of moving up to podium places.
Lap 58: The top four drivers are separated by only three seconds. As Pérez struggles on his medium tyres, Sainz takes a look through the tunnel, but is too far behind to make a move.
Lap 60: Just five minutes remaining in the racing session, and Sainz is still attempting to overtake Pérez. They approach two slow-moving cars in front of them, but no drama is seen as both cars move out of the way on a blue flag.
Lap 63 (final lap): Pérez secured up slightly more of a distance to Sainz, despite the Ferrari driver’s continued use of the DRS.
Checkered Flag: “It’s Pérez in the Principality. He wins the Monaco Grand Prix, Carlos Sainz once more has to settle for a runner’s up spot behind a Red Bull here in Monaco, Max Verstappen completes the podium with third place, and Charles Leclerc, in his home race, comes home to finish for the first time, but that might not be too much comfort for a race where he led the early stages,” remarked the F1 commentator.
It was an extremely emotional podium for Pérez. Tears fell down his cheek as the Mexican National Anthem played live and he stood on P1. He also wore a very special helmet during the entire weekend that paid tribute to his F1 hero, Mexican ex-pilot Pedro Rodríguez.
“I´m just very happy. I mean, I was running today with Pedro Rodriguez´s helmet and I´m sure up there he’s super proud of what we have achieved together in the sport,” Pérez said.
What this Means for Pérez’s Future
Pérez currently sits third in the driver’s championship standings: six points behind Leclerc, and 16 points behind his teammate Verstappen.
Two days after Pérez’s Monaco victory, the Red Bull Racing team announced that Pérez signed the contract to stay with the team until 2024.
Assuming Pérez is permitted to compete against Verstappen for race victories and the World Championship, in a post-race press conference, Verstappen was asked if his relationship with Pérez would change because of their championship battle.
“I don’t think so, in terms of whether the relationship will change,” Verstappen said. “We have a good…”
Pérez then jumped in and said, “we are still going to be in love, right?”
They laughed, “yeah, absolutely. Why would that change?” Verstappen replied. “But yeah, may the best man win in the end, right?”