Monaco GP Qualifying: Leclerc on pole, Verstappen flops

Monaco GP Qualifying: Leclerc pips Piastri, Verstappen flops

Monaco GP Qualifying: Leclerc on pole, Verstappen flops

Charles Leclerc took his third pole at home, the Monaco GP, after a thrilling battle with McLaren Oscar Piastri, on a day when Max Verstappen left chasing.

Leclerc delivered on the promising form Ferrari showed since the cars ran in anger around the principality at the start of the weekend on Friday.

After what seemed to be a wobbly start for qualifying for Leclerc, he managed to keep a charging Piastri at bay, the latter settling for second on the grid.

Making the day sweeter for Ferrari, on a day where they achieved their 250th pole position, Carlos Sainz was third fastest in the #55 SF-24. Sainz is under investigation though.

Lando Norris seemed to be playing catchup with his teammate all weekend, and indeed, he was only fourth fastest at the end of Q3, ahead of George Russell, fifth in the Mercedes.

Verstappen was wringing the neck of his RB20 all through qualifying, keeping himself in contention for pole until his final lap in Q3, when he pushed too much and banged the wall at Turn 1, his qualifying over as he complained about his slippery car over the radio. Sixth was the best the reigning Formula 1 Champion could achieve.

Lewis Hamilton was seventh fastest in the other Mercedes, despite being faster than Russell all weekend, and was ahead of a superb Yuki Tsunoda, the Japanese once again in the top ten.

Alex Albon was an impressive ninth ahead of an equally impressive Pierre Gasly who was tenth.

It was one of the closest qualifying sessions as the top 18 drivers were within half a second on a day that saw quick names eliminated early on – Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez both out in Q1, 16the and 18th respectively, both lamenting traffic.

It’s another pole for Leclerc at home but will he make it a win on Sunday after noon given his history of bad luck at his home race?

Leclerc: Qualifying is not everything

“It was nice,” Leclerc said after qualifying on pole. “The feeling after a Qualifying lap is very special here. Really happy about the lap. The excitement is so high. It feels really good

“However, now I know more often than not in the past, that Qualifying is not everything,” he warned. “As much as it helps, we need to put everything together for Sunday’s race.

“In the past here we didn’t manage to do so, but we are in a stronger position and we are a stronger team. I’m sure we can achieve great things tomorrow and the win is the target.”

As to what he needs to do on race day, the Monegasque added: “I need a good launch off the grid, then once we do that, hopefully Carlos can have a great start and follow me into Turn One.

“If we are one-two, we can manage that as a team. That would be the perfect scenario. But whatever happens we need to bring that victory home,” he concluded.

Second placed Piastri added: “I think if you took the second half of my first lap in Q3 and the first half of my second one, it would have been enough.

“A couple of mistakes at the end, but credit to Charles. He’s been quick all weekend and at certain points I thought we were going to get close to him.

“It’s nice to be starting on the front row…and what better colours to do it in than these.

“As optimistic as I want to be, overtaking around here is not easy. We’re starting from a good spot and have a chance for a good day tomorrow,” the Aussie concluded.

Sainz, who has to visit the stewards for allegedly impeding Albon, said: “It was an improvement for me. I’ve been struggling all weekend with confidence and feeling with the car, so overall to step it up and be P3 is a step forward.

“I’m not entirely happy because I wish I could have been fighting for pole position but the truth is Charles has been doing an outstanding job.

“The car has been amazing all weekend and he managed to extract the most from it, so I’m happy for him,” he insisted.

However, the Spaniard is encouraged by his pace on the long runs, he added: “I looked very quick on the long runs. For some reason I’ve bee struggling on the short runs but the long runs have been better. I’m confident tomorrow the pace on the long run will be good.

“It’s just a matter of track position here and we lost it with not a great Qualy position,” he lamented. “It’s Monaco. Anything can happen and we will give it our best shot. The priority will be to win with Charles tomorrow.”

Q3: Verstappen hits the wall


The cars lined up in the pitlane with Gasly first as the final ten remaining drivers got ready to slug it out in the final and all important 12 minutes of qualifying.

With the notoriety of Monaco, a decent banker lap would be of the utmost importance as you never know when a Red flag could come out.

Leclerc soon reported: “Something moved in the pedals.” Not what you want to hear when you are chasing pole for your home grand prix.

Leclerc went fastest soon after that as Verstappen backed out of his first lap which was 20s off Leclerc but soon went for another lap which was only good for third fastest.

The Dutchman reported: “Still same issues in Turns 5 and 10.”

With the first round of laps in, Leclerc was on provisional pole, with Piastri second fastest and Verstappen third.

Sainz was fourth, Russell fifth, Norris sixth, Albon seventh, Hamilton eighth, Gasly ninth, and Tsunoda tenth.

Soon after the final runs started and it was Leclerc who kept pole, even improving on his final lap to clock a 1:10.270 to take his 24th F1 career pole.

Piastri was second fastest, 0.154s behind Leclerc and 0.094s ahead of Sainz who was third fastest in the second Ferrari.

Norris was fourth fastest, 0.272s off the pace and 0.001s ahead of Russell in fifth only, while Verstappen was sixth, almost three tenths off the pace.

Hamilton was seventh fastest, 0.351s off the pace and 0.237s ahead of Tsunoda in eighth, while Albon and Gasly were ninth and tenth.


Q2: Gasly and Albon make the top ten


After a quick break, action resumed around Monaco for the second stage of qualifying as the remaining 15 drivers took to the track.

Verstappen was top of the timing screens after the first run, while Leclerc was surprisingly sixth fastest only, but the times continued to drop and the second round of laps were soon ongoing.

Leclerc jumped to second on his second lap, behind Piastri who was the fastest with three minutes remaining on the clock.

Soon Norris goes fastest, as the final runs of Q2 kept going, and soon Verstappen splits the McLarens going second fastest and dropping Piastri to third.

And that is how the order stayed with Norris leading with a 1:10.732, 0.013s ahead of Verstappen in second with Piastri 0.011s further down the road in third. Leclerc was fourth fastest.

The first driver to be eliminated was Esteban Ocon who was 11th fastest losing out to Albon by 0.069s, while Gasly in the other Alpine was fifth fastest.

After some strong laps in Q1, Q2 was the most Nico Hulkenberg could managed, 12th fastest and 0.042s ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in 13th.

Lance Stroll outqualified Alonso once again, but could not manage more that 14th on the grid, 0.162s ahead of Kevin Magnussen, 15th fastest in the other Haas.

Another close stage as less than half a second covered the top ten drivers that were promoted to Q3.


Q1: Perez and Alonso out

Clear conditions continued into qualifying that started with track temperatures at 47 degrees Celsius with air temperature at 21 degrees.

All the drivers queued in the pitlane waiting for the green light of Q1, while relaxed Ferrari kept their drivers in the garages. Hamilton lead the way out of the pits as the 18-minute stage was given the go.

Hamilton posted the first lap time and went fastest, but then Verstappen edged him to to top, but then Hulkenberg and Magnussen went first and second with Piastri third.

Leclerc then joins the action, but his first effort was only good for sixth, while Norris goes third fastest on his first timed lap, while Russell then after when fastest.

With the Soft tyres good for more than one lap, the drivers kept banging in the laps as the time continued to drop with the occupants of the top spot continuously changing.

Not a strange thing, but traffic was an issue, Ricciardo reporting “crazy” traffic in Turn 3 while Leclerc was complaining about being out of phase with the others. He was 12th with less than five minutes.

Soon the drivers returned to the pits for new boots and the second round of laps were soon on, with times dropping significantly as the track kept evolving, no one was safe.

When all was done and dusted, It was Russell that led the way with a 1:11.492, 0.008s ahead of Piastri in second and 0.036s ahead of Hamilton in third.

Sainz and Leclerc were fourth and fifth respectively with Albon in sixth, while Verstappen was in seventh, over two tenths off the pace.

The first driver to miss out on Q2 was Alonso who missed out to Ocon by 0.132s and will start the race from 16th.

Logan Sargeant was 17th fastest in the Williams over half a second off the pace and ahead of Perez who was 18th fastest.

Valtteri Bottas was 19th fastest ahead of Zhou Guanyu in 20th, as the whole grid was within 1.5s.