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Max Verstappen wins Monaco GP, takes F1 title from Louis Hamilton

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Image source: AP

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen won the Monaco Grand Prix for the first time to take the lead in the Lewis Hamilton Formula One Championship on Sunday, while sixth-seeded Charles Leclerc retired shortly before the start of the race.

Verstappen’s second win this season and 12th career moved the Red Bull driver by four points ahead of Hamilton as a whole. The seven-time world champion finished seventh in a bad day for the usually ultra-reliable Mercedes team.

His teammate Valteri Botas left the second place out of the race before the middle, after his team changed a tire.

Verstappen finished 8.9 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. in second place and 19.4 seconds behind McLaren’s Lando Norris. They secured the third podium in their careers, while Sergio Perez from Red Bull was a second behind Norris in fourth place.

It was the first time in five races this season that Hamilton and Verstappen had not finished 1-2, but Hamilton’s chances were effectively ended when he finished in poor seventh on Saturday.

Leclerc’s chances of winning his household from gender position ended when he pulled with a gearbox problem.

Leclerc damaged him, crashing 18 seconds after the end of qualifying. He risks a five-seat penalty if the gearbox is changed, but Ferrari said earlier Sunday that it could compete with it.

About 20 minutes before the race, Ferrari gave up and he withdrew. Two years ago, Leclerc retired early to Monaco in his first season at Ferrari.

The race director decided not to move Verstappen up from second to pole and left that space empty, giving Botas more room to overtake from the inside.

He started well, but Verstappen held up.

The tough 3.4-kilometer (2.1-mile) course is the hardest to overtake in F1, with Hamilton in sixth place behind Pierre Gasley when he switched to new hard tires on lap 30 of 78, followed by from Bottas on the next tour.

But Mercedes couldn’t fit Bottas’ tires and the race was over.

Verstappen’s Lap 34 tires changed 2 seconds and he came back just behind Perez, who switched Lap 36 tires, allowing Verstappen to regain the lead.

The Dutchman began to travel as Hamilton sounded disappointed on the team’s radio.

“How am I still behind (Gasley)? Come on, ‘said Hamilton, whose friend Serena Williams was watching from the balcony.

Hamilton took a bonus point for the fastest lap at the end, a rare bright spot on a gloomy day for the defending champion and his team.

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