Champagne moment: After competing hard in the rain, Fernando Alonso (L) and Max Verstappen engaged in traditional podium combat
Monaco (AFP) - Max Verstappen confirmed he has the tenacity and determination to clinch a third straight drivers’ title with a convincing triumph in Sunday’s rain-hit Monaco Grand Prix.
Fernando Alonso mounted a fierce challenge in his Aston Martin, but could not stop Red Bull’s defending double world champion from extending his series lead.
AFP Sport looks at three things we learned from an intriguing 80th running of the classic Mediterranean street circuit contest:
Verstappen shows his courage
The 25-year-old Dutchman demonstrated on Sunday that he has the raw courage to rise to any challenge.
His speed and skill on worn medium tyres when he prolonged his first stint, to resist the chasing Alonso, was a demonstration of supreme concentrated talent.
Verstappen managed his pace and his brushes with the barriers to build a margin that ensured victory despite the arrival of a rainstorm.
Waiting game: Fernando Alonso said he is prepared to follow Max Verstappen's Red Bull and watch for a chance
“We had enough margin that, even if five or six seconds off the pace, we’d still have been three or four up the road,” said Red Bull team-boss Christian Horner.
“But you have to take your hat off to Fernando this weekend. I thought Max and he were outstanding. The rest of the field were a long way behind.”
“It was great to see Fernando’s confidence and the way he’s driving. He and Max are very similar – in the way they drive and how tenacious they are. They are always pushing. You can see how they enjoy the fight.”
In response to the challenge, Verstappen took his car to the edge.
“I clipped the walls a few times,” he said. “It was super difficult out there today, but that’s it. That’s Monaco.”
Against a dogged opponent, Verstappen, on torn tyres, did not back down.
Veteran Alonso plays long game
At the age of 41 Fernando Alonso, may not have delivered the romantic triumph many fans wanted, but he proved he has the grit and speed to defy his age.
Despite a misjudged tyre change, he was comfortably second to become the oldest Monaco podium finisher since Jack Brabham in 1970.
“The championship is long,” he said. “This is motor sport. Anything can happen. On pure pace, I think we don’t have a chance, yet, but we will not give up for sure.
“I’m not getting obsessed with this to be honest. I will be happy fighting for the championship with all second places until the end of the year or fighting for the championship next year.
“This year is just a gift, what we are having every weekend is just a celebration on the team. We didn’t expect this and it’s just a build up to next year so hopefully good things are coming.”
Even as the oldest man in the field, Alonso is playing the long game.
A glimpse under the skirts
On show: opponents were delighted to get a glimpse of the underside of a Red Bull after Sergio Perez crashed during qualifying
When cranes winched Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes and Sergio Perez’s Red Bull off the constricted street circuit after crashes in practice and qualifying, the unexpected glimpses of their undercarriages created a minor frenzy.
Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff bemoaned the ‘Cirque de Soleil’ approach of the rescue crews, others were thrilled.
“Thanks to Sergio Perez, the whole of F1 has seen the fabled Red Bull floor,” said Ted Kravitz of SkySports. “It is a thing of wonder and beauty – especially when you compare it to the floors of the Mercedes and Ferrari, which we also saw on cranes.”
“They look pre-historic compared.”
Aston Martin performance director Tom McCullough said he was thankful his car had not been lifted on display after an accident.
“The aerodynamicists never want that,” he said. “You can learn so much from just seeing the wear on the plank.
“There are a lot of very excited aerodynamicists up and down the pit lane looking at those pictures.”