Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won Formula One’s showcase Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday to lead the world championship for the first time in his career.
The 23-year-old Dutch driver started the day 14 points behind Mercedes’ seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton and ended it four clear of the Briton with 18 races remaining on the schedule.
Hamilton finished seventh, gaining an extra consolation point for the fastest lap after making a late stop for fresh tires.
“It’s so special around here to win and, also for me, the first time on the podium here. An amazing race,” said Verstappen, who had everything under control from start to finish.
“You always want to win this grand prix. I remember when I was very little, already watching this grand prix, so standing here I’m very proud.”
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz finished second — a boost for the team after Charles Leclerc, who had secured pole position and crashed in qualifying, was ruled out before the start with a driveshaft problem.
The podium was the Spaniard’s first since he joined Ferrari this year, but his was a nervous race given his team mate’s misfortune.
“Maybe it doesn’t taste as good as it should,” he said.
Britain’s Lando Norris, Sainz’s team mate last year at McLaren, held off Red Bull’s Sergio Perez to complete the top three.
The victory was Verstappen’s second of the season and also the first time he had stood on the podium at the sport’s most glamorous race.
The unexpected drama of Leclerc’s pre-race retirement left him alone on the front row at the start with pole position empty.
The Dutch driver made a clean start, with Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas slotting in behind and Sainz third.
Hamilton was left fuming after an early pitstop to gain places backfired, and Mercedes dropped the ball again when mechanics were unable to remove a jammed right front wheel from Bottas’s car, forcing him to retire.
There was little drama in the race, the usual picturesque procession around the principality where overtaking is extremely difficult, and unusually for Monaco no crashes or safety car period.
Verstappen now has 105 points to Hamilton’s 101, with Norris moving up to third on 56.
Red Bull’s breakthrough weekend also saw them go top of the constructors’ standings by a point, with engine partners Honda leading a championship for the first time since 1991.
Mercedes, winners of the last seven drivers’ and constructors’ titles, had a rare off day at a track that has been difficult for them in the past.
“We under-performed as a team all weekend,” said Hamilton, who struggled for grip throughout practice and qualifying.
Four times world champion and former Monaco winner Sebastian Vettel scored his first points for Aston Martin with fifth place.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was sixth, staying ahead of Hamilton despite the Briton’s pitstop to try and get past on strategy, and Montrealer Lance Stroll was eighth for Aston Martin.
Frenchman Esteban Ocon took ninth for Renault-owned Alpine and Italian Antonio Giovinazzi bagged the final point for Alfa Romeo.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo, winner in 2018 with Red Bull, was only 12th for McLaren but a place ahead of two times world champion Fernando Alonso with Alpine.