Sergio Perez wins chaotic Monaco GP; Ferrari strategy costs Charles Leclerc again

Sergio Perez Monaco
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MONACO — Sergio Perez rebounded from Red Bull team orders that denied him a chance to race for the win one week ago to pick up his first Formula One win of the season in the rain-marred Monaco Grand Prix.

Perez earned his third career F1 victory on the slick city streets of Monaco after a questionable strategy call by Ferrari cost pole-sitter Charles Leclerc a win on his home circuit.

Leclerc finished the race for the first time in four tries but was fourth and lost ground to reigning series champion and points leader Max Verstappen in the standings.

Carlos Sainz Jr. finished second for Ferrari, and Verstappen was third for Red Bull.

Verstappen now leads Leclerc by nine points in the standings; Leclerc has two wins this season, Verstappen and Perez have combined for five victories as Red Bull and Ferrari have won all seven races.

But the win went to Verstappen’s teammate just one week after Perez was ordered to cede the lead to Verstappen during the Spanish Grand Prix. Leclerc had dropped out of the race with an engine failure, and Red Bull chose to capitalize by ensuring Verstappen would get the win in Spain.

The team promised Perez he’d be allowed to race for wins and held its word Sunday.

“You dream of winning this, and after your home race, there is no place more special to win,” Perez said after waving the Mexican flag.

Leclerc led from the pole and screamed in rage when told to pit for a second tire change on Lap 22 at the same time as Sainz. His engineer realized the mistake and yelled “stay out!” but it was too late and Leclerc came back out on track in fourth place.

“What are you doing?” Leclerc shouted.

After the race, he lectured Ferrari again.

“No words, no words. We cannot do that,” he radioed.

Leclerc also won the pole a year ago but never got to start because he crashed at the end of qualifying, and the car’s gearbox failed moments before the start. In 2018 and 2019, Leclerc had retired from the race with crash damage.

The race was delayed by 70 minutes for heavy rain and began from a rolling start behind a safety car. It was then red-flagged on Lap 30 after Mick Schumacher’s heavy crash three laps earlier sliced his Haas car in two. He escaped unharmed.

“I’m fine, very, very upset not to finish the race,” Schumacher said. “I don’t know why the car split in two.”

George Russell finished fifth for Mercedes ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and the Alpine of Fernando Alonso.

Seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton was eighth for Mercedes – extending his winless run with the Silver Arrows to eight races – while Valtteri Bottas was ninth for Alfa Romeo and Sebastian Vettel 10th for Aston Martin.

The restart after Schumacher’s crash was again a rolling start behind the safety car. But the long delay and red flag shortened the race from 77 laps into a timed race so that it would end by local curfew.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.