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Formula 1

Leclerc claims Monaco pole despite session-stopping crash

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
7 min read

Local hero Charles Leclerc scored Ferrari’s first Formula 1 pole since 2019 at the Monaco Grand Prix, but it was aided by him crashing on his final attempt in Q3, while championship leader Lewis Hamilton was only seventh on the grid.

Leclerc took the initial lead with a 1m10.346s on his first attempt in Q3, leaving his three closest rivals – Verstappen, Bottas and team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr – between 0.230s and 0.265s off at the halfway point in the pole shoot-out.

He was pushing to improve in the dying seconds of the session but, in an accident similar to the one Williams driver Nicholas Latifi suffered in FP3, hit the inside barrier on the exit of the second Swimming Pool chicane, broke his suspension and went into the barrier at the exit.

Provided Leclerc’s Ferrari didn’t incur damage that would require grid penalties, it will have worked out well for the Monegasque, with Verstappen having posted the fastest first sector of the session when the red flag came out with 18 seconds left on the timer.

Verstappen is therefore set to join Leclerc on the front row, with Bottas third and Sainz making it two Ferraris in the top four.

Lando Norris timed his final Q3 push well to avoid being impacted by the red flag and will is due to start fifth for McLaren, just 0.274s off pole.

Pierre Gasly of AlphaTauri should join him on row three, with the second Mercedes of Hamilton remarkably qualifying only seventh.

Hamilton had a front left lock-up into Rascasse that contributed to him being three quarters of a second off Leclerc’s initial lap.

Once he rejoined on fresh softs, he had to bail out of two flying laps and pulled into the pits with damage after brushing the wall exiting Mirabeau Bas.

Former title rival Sebastian Vettel should join him on the fourth row for Aston Martin, ahead of Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – who was badly hindered by traffic at Rascasse on his fastest lap and Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), celebrating his first Q3 appearance of the season.

Esteban Ocon was 0.889s off the pace in Q2 but had to settle for 11th on the grid, and will be joined on row six by his Alpine team’s former driver Daniel Ricciardo – who was more than half a second off McLaren team-mate Norris in the second segment.

Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Monaco Grand Prix 2021

Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll was 0.002s back from Ricciardo in 13th, with Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) a further half a tenth back and suffering his fourth qualifying defeat versus Alfa Romeo team-mate Giovinazzi in five races.

George Russell (Williams) made up the order in the second segment, preserving his 100% record of Q2 appearances despite having looked off his usual pace in practice.

Alpine’s Fernando Alonso was a high-profile casualty of Q1 on his return to the principality, falling nearly half a second short of team-mate Esteban Ocon.

The two-time F1 champion will start 17th, right behind AlphaTauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda – just 0.018s off advancing to Q2 at Vettel’s expense – and ahead of Williams driver Latifi, whose FW43B was repaired in time after his FP3 shunt.

Haas rookie Nikita Mazepin was six tenths down on Latifi in 19th place, but claimed his first qualifying head-to-head victory over team-mate Mick Schumacher – who was forced to miss the session entirely due to having suffered the second accident of his weekend in FP3.

Qualifying Results

Pos Name Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m11.113s 1m10.597s 1m10.346s
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1m11.124s 1m10.65s 1m10.576s
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m10.938s 1m10.695s 1m10.601s
4 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1m11.324s 1m10.806s 1m10.611s
5 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1m11.321s 1m11.031s 1m10.62s
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1m11.56s 1m11.179s 1m10.9s
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m11.622s 1m11.116s 1m11.095s
8 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m12.078s 1m11.309s 1m11.419s
9 Sergio Pérez Red Bull-Honda 1m11.644s 1m11.019s 1m11.573s
10 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m11.658s 1m11.409s 1m11.779s
11 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1m11.74s 1m11.486s
12 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1m11.747s 1m11.598s
13 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m11.979s 1m11.6s
14 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m11.899s 1m11.642s
15 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1m12.016s 1m11.83s
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 1m12.096s
17 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1m12.205s
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1m12.366s
19 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1m12.958s
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