MONACO — Max Verstappen's lights-to-flag victory Sunday at the Monaco Grand Prix gave the two-time reigning Formula One champion his fourth win of the season and a record 39th overall for Red Bull as he extended his lead in the series standings to 39 points over teammate Sergio Perez.
All of Verstappen's F1 career victories are with Red Bull. The first came in his debut for the team at the 2016 Spanish GP, when at the age of 18 years, 228 days, he became the youngest winner in the history of the open-wheel international circuit.
Seven years and two titles later, the Dutchman passed former Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel's team tally of 38 victories, collected when he won four straight titles from 2010 to 2013.
"It's great. I never thought I'd be in this position in my career," Verstappen said. "It's better than I could have imagined for sure."
Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso was second — the Spanish veteran's best result this season and his fifth top-three finish in six races — albeit 28 seconds behind Verstappen, while Esteban Ocon of France secured third place and a rare podium for Alpine.
Red Bull has won all the races so far in 2023, with Perez winning in Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia and Verstappen second in both of those events.
"It's super nice to win it in the way we did today with the weather and everything to stay calm and bring it home," Verstappen said.
For most of the race, he coasted on a dry and narrow track where overtaking is the hardest in F1. An incident-free race in Monaco is rare, though, and heavy rain played havoc with close to 20 laps left in the 78-lap event. Some drivers had pitted for the wrong medium tires shortly before the downpour and slid around the city streets.
"It was incredibly slippery," Verstappen said.
Ferrari's Carlos Sainz Jr. glided sideways into the barriers and was lucky not to damage his Ferrari, Kevin Magnussen lost control of his Haas, and Lance Stroll retired after damaging his Aston Martin.
Red Bull had wisely put Verstappen on the versatile intermediate tires on the 56th lap, and they carried him to his second win in Monaco and the third straight for the team after Perez won the 2022 race.
Seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth for Mercedes and picked up a point for fastest lap. His teammate George Russell was fifth, having earlier almost slammed into Perez as visibility worsened. A serious crash was somehow avoided in a hectic few minutes before the rain eased off.
"Braking was extremely fragile," Alonso said. "I think everyone did an amazing job today to keep the cars on track."
The 41-year-old Alonso, who won back-to-back F1 titles in 2005-06, is third in the standings and closed the gap on Perez to 12 points. Alonso's podium finish was his 103rd in F1, while Ocon grabbed his third.
"I'm speechless at the moment," Ocon said. "A little bit on my cloud at the moment."
Russell was given a five-second penalty for rejoining the track in an unsafe manner but had just enough to keep fifth place ahead of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc. Alpine's Pierre Gasly (Alpine), a seething Sainz and McLaren's Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri rounded out the top 10.
Verstappen started first after just edging Alonso in Saturday qualifying to deny him what would have been his first pole position in 11 years. Perez started last after a clumsy crash in qualifying and finished 16th.
The sinewy 2.1-mile circuit gives the pole-sitter a massive advantage if he makes a clean getaway, which is what Verstappen did as Alonso's gamble to start on hard tires didn't work.
"Max drove super well on the medium tires on that first stint," Alonso said. "We (went) for all or nothing. We started on the hard tire and didn't have the pace."
After 26 of 78 laps, Verstappen was 12 seconds clear of Alonso, who even persuaded himself he had a puncture. Twice his team assured him it wasn't the case.
Verstappen eventually started losing time and wanted to pit for new tires, but his team told him he'd fall behind Alonso if he did that.
At the same time, Perez was getting tense while stuck among the back markers, almost clipping Stroll and then bumping into the back of Kevin Magnussen's Haas. Sainz, meanwhile, was furious that Ferrari — a team with a reputation for still making bad strategy calls — pitted him too early and put on the wrong tire to cover Ocon's stop, and he let his team know with an outburst over the radio.
The Spaniard had already endured a difficult day after his front wing clipped Ocon's Alpine as he tried to overtake. A portion of the wing came off subsequently, but Sainz got away with just a warning for the incident.
The sky then darkened, and rain started to fall heavily soon after drivers had completed 50 laps.
"I have to drive super slow because my tires are (expletive)," Verstappen lamented on the 54th lap.
Alonso pitted a lap later for mediums.
The schedule continues next Sunday with the Spanish GP in Barcelona, where Verstappen was the winner last year on his way to a series-record 15 victories.