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Verstappen wins Monaco Grand Prix and wins F1 title lead from Hamilton

Max Verstappen won the Monaco Grand Prix for the first time on Sunday to win the F1 Championship lead from Lewis Hamilton, and pole sitter Charles Leclerc withdrew shortly before the race began.

Verstappen outperformed Red Bull drivers by four points over Hamilton in his second victory and twelfth career this season. The seven-time World Champion finished in seventh place on a bad day, usually for a very reliable Mercedes team.

Teammate Valtteri Bottas was out of the race from second place before the midpoint after the team failed the tire changer.

Verstappen beat Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. by 8.9 seconds, finishing second and beating McLaren’s Lando Norris by 19.4 seconds. Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was fourth, one second behind Norris, but they took the podium for the third time.

Hamilton and Verstappen didn’t finish 1-2 for the first time in five races this season, but Hamilton’s chance was virtually over on Saturday after struggling in seventh place.

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The possibility of winning the home race from pole position ended when it was pulled out due to a gearbox problem.

Leclerc crashed and damaged 18 seconds after qualifying. He risked a five-digit grid penalty if the gearbox changed, but Ferrari said it could race on it early Sunday.

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

The race director decided not to raise Verstappen from 2nd to the pole, leaving that space blank, giving Botta room to overtake the inside.

He got off to a good start, but Verstappen kept him away.

The winding 3.4km (2.1 miles) course was the hardest to overtake in F1 and Hamilton was stuck behind Pierre Guthrie in 6th place. He changed to new hard tires on lap 30 on lap 78, followed by Bottas on the next lap. ..

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However, Mercedes couldn’t fit Botta’s tires and his race was over.

Verstappen’s tire changer on lap 34 was smooth in 2 seconds and returned just behind Perez. Perez changed tires on lap 36 and Verstappen regained the lead.

Hamilton sounded frustrated on the team’s radio, so the Dutch started cruising.

“Am I still behind (Guthrie)? Come on,” said Hamilton, whose friend Serena Williams was watching from the balcony.

Hamilton earned bonus points on the fastest lap towards the end. This is a rare bright spot for defending champions and his team on a miserable day.

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Verstappen wins Monaco Grand Prix and wins F1 title lead from Hamilton

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