Leclerc storms to Monaco pole after Q3 crash
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc claimed a brilliant pole position for tomorrow's 67th Monaco Grand Prix after ending the session in the barriers which prevented his main rivals from improving their previous best times.
Q1 – Alonso’s early out
The qualifying session started with 19 drivers participating in the arguably most important part of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend after Haas discovered damage to the chassis of Mick Schumacher’s car. The German ended up in the barriers in the third and final session, causing a huge amount of damage to his car at Turn 4.
As expected, the fight for the Q2 places was intense with only Haas driver Nikita Mazepin being unable to have a real shot at the promotion.
It was Mercedes driver Vatteri Bottas to set the benchmark in Q1, delivering a surprise after the Anglo-German team struggled for pace in the third practice session.
Yuki Tsunoda, Fernando Alonso, Nicholas Latifi and Nikita Mazepin were unable to earn a place in the second place of the qualifying session.
Q2 – Vettel through again
Sainz once again set the early pace in Q2, the Spaniard was the first driver to dip into the 1m10s in qualifying, but it was his team mate Leclerc to take the top spot at the end of the second session ahead of Verstappen.
It was another successful session for Sebastian Vettel who fought his way through to Q3 by setting a strong lap early on in the session. The German beat his team mate Lance Stroll who continued to struggle with the balance of his Aston Martin.
It was a session with mixed emotions for the Mclaren outfit which is using a special Gulf Oil livery this weekend. While Lando Norris was extremely quick, particularly through the first sector, the team's new recruit Daniel Ricciardo was out and will line up only in P12 on grid tomorrow.
Esteban Ocon, Daniel Ricciardo, Lance Stroll, Kimi Räikkönen and George Russell said farewell to their qualifying at the end of the middle part of the session.
Emotional qualifying - first time on Pole Position at home despite a damaged car. Congratulations @Charles_Leclerc @ScuderiaFerrari #F1 #MonacoGP 🇲🇨 pic.twitter.com/qwcXxMkvcl— Jean Todt (@JeanTodt) May 22, 2021
Q3 – Early end due to crash
Drivers were in a rush to get out on to the track when the lights switched to green. After the first runs, Leclerc found himself atop with a 1m10.346, the best time of the weekend.
On his second set of fresh soft tyres, Hamilton continued to struggle. The Briton felt himself comfortable in the first sector, but he was suffering from oversteering in the middle part of the track and ended up seventh fastest.
Despite having provisional pole, Leclerc continued to push, but went over the limit at the swimming pool chicane and crashed. Setting the best sector time in the first part of the circuit, Verstappen was on a very strong hot lap, but he was prevented from improving his previous best lap. Bottas and Sainz were also caught out by the red flag.
Leclerc claimed his first pole since the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix ahead of Verstappen with Bottas and the Monegasque’s team mate Carlos Sainz forming the second row of the grid.
Commenting on the last minutes of the qualifying session, Verstappen said:"I think it makes a difference when a guy makes a mistake and hits the wall or doing it intentionally.
„If Charles parked there with a broken front wing, it‘s a different story. He just clipped the wall and ended where I ended up twice. It‘s just unfortunate,” he added.
Not how Charles Leclerc would have expected to take his eighth pole position 😱#MonacoGP 🇲🇨 #F1 pic.twitter.com/1Dq2Sg4Y7Q— Formula 1 (@F1) May 22, 2021
After becoming the first Monegasque driver to take the pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix, Leclerc said: “A shame to finish in the wall. It doesn’t feel the same, but at the same time I’m incredibly happy about my first timed lap."
The first corner was quite tricky, I didn’t do a great first corner, but then the second and third sector, I nailed it and just very, very happy to be on pole obviously.
"It was very, very difficult to manage myself mentally after Q2. I could feel I was quite emotional in the car but I told myself, now it’s Q3, now it’s time to put everything together and I managed to do so, so I’m incredibly happy," the 23-year-old driver said.
It is still not clear whether Ferrari needs to change the gearbox in Leclerc's. Should the Scuderia opt for a gearbox change, the Monegasque would start from P6. Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto confirmed that his team will not take any risks with Leclerc’s gearbox. “No, we will not gamble,” the Swiss-Italian added.
“I think for us what's important after such a quali is to try to maximise the number of points for the championship, and obviously to maximise we need to finish the race. So reliability is key, reliability remains the priority. If we have any doubts, we will certainly change and fix it," he said.
|2||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:11.124||1:10.650||1:10.576||23|
|5||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:11.321||1:11.031||1:10.620||23|
|6||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Honda||1:11.560||1:11.179||1:10.900||30|
|8||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:12.078||1:11.309||1:11.419||26|
|9||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:11.644||1:11.019||1:11.573||26|
|10||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:11.658||1:11.409||1:11.779||28|
|11||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:11.740||1:11.486||22|
|12||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:11.747||1:11.598||21|
|13||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:11.979||1:11.600||20|
|14||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:11.899||1:11.642||21|
|15||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:12.016||1:11.830||24|
|16||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda||1:12.096||13|
|17||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:12.205||12|
|18||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:12.366||14|
|19||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari||1:12.958||12|