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Formula 1

Verstappen denies Alonso Monaco GP pole, Perez crashes in Q1

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
4 min read

Formula 1 championship leader Max Verstappen denied Fernando Alonso a sensational Monaco Grand Prix pole, while his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez crashed out of qualifying early on.

Sat fifth in the Q1 rankings after his first flying lap, Perez came in hot at Ste Devote and was unable to catch a massive side, the contact with the outside barrier wrecking the RB19’s left rear suspension and leaving a hole in its sidepod.

This naturally caused a red flag – and, despite Perez having set a time, even a nominal passage to Q2 was soon out of the question, with his F1 peers rapidly relegating him to the back once the session had resumed.

Verstappen hardly took it easy after Perez’s exit – he grazed the wall at Antony Nogues in Q1 and topped the first and the second segment – but the pole shoot-out brought a stern challenge.

The championship leader was only fifth after his initial attempt and though he went quickest after giving it another go on the same set, he was sensationally dethroned almost immediately by the Alpine of Esteban Ocon.

By the time Verstappen had come out on his second Q3 set of softs, he was fifth again – moved down also by Alonso and the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

F1 2023 R06 Q

Yet he struck back again at the very last moment, overcoming a deficit to Alonso after the first two sectors with a sensational final sector to record a pole-clinching 1m11.365s – despite tagging the wall during the lap.

Alonso settled for a front row spot, ahead of home hero Leclerc and Ocon – who’d smacked the wall at Ste Devote earlier but got away with it.

Leclerc is under investigation for an impeding incident involving McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Leclerc’s Ferrari team-mate Sainz was fifth, a tenth and a half down on his team-mate after having flirted with elimination in Q1 – in which a late lap was required to effectively salvage his weekend.

In the upgraded Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton had to salvage his day twice, both in Q1 and in Q2.

He was facing elimination in the first segment, especially after a slide through the Nouvelle Chicane with just a minute left on the clock, but pulled out a lap. He’d do the same in Q2, during which he reported a potential issue with his right rear suspension.

Ocon’s Alpine team-mate Pierre Gasly was seventh, three places and four tenths behind Ocon, while Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell had to make do with eighth place.

Russell had looked the more comfortable of the two Mercedes drivers by far throughout qualifying, but had a scrappy final run in Q3.

Yuki Tsunoda was the sole AlphaTauri in the third segment in ninth.

Norris hit the inside wall through the left-hander of Tabac on his final attempt in Q2, which sent him into the outside barrier – although he was able to limp back to the pits.

Despite that incident, it wasn’t him but McLaren team-mate Oscar Piastri eliminated in Q2, by a 0.02s margin versus Norris. Norris did get sent out of the pits late on in Q3, but could only place 10th anyway.

Though beaten by Tsunoda, Nyck de Vries recorded comfortably his best qualifying effort as an AlphaTauri driver so far in 12th, followed by the Williams of Alex Albon and the Aston Martin of Lance Stroll.

Stroll did at least outpace Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas in Q2, but adding insult to the injury of his disappointing qualifying was the fact that the stewards formally took note of an incident in which he’d overshot the weighbridge.

Last-gasp Q1 improvements from Hamilton and Piastri consigned Logan Sargeant to a first-segment exit in 16th, followed by Haas duo Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg – 0.009s apart in what appears to be the slowest car in Monaco this weekend.

Both Haas drivers, however, were handily clear of 19th-placed Zhou Guanyu, the Alfa Romeo sophomore trailing team-mate Bottas by half a second in Q1 and set to join Perez on the last row of the grid.

Qualifying Results

Pos Name Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1m12.386s 1m11.908s 1m11.365s
2 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m12.886s 1m12.107s 1m11.449s
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m12.912s 1m12.103s 1m11.471s
4 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1m12.967s 1m12.248s 1m11.553s
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1m12.717s 1m12.21s 1m11.63s
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m12.872s 1m12.156s 1m11.725s
7 Pierre Gasly Alpine-Renault 1m13.033s 1m12.169s 1m11.933s
8 George Russell Mercedes 1m12.769s 1m12.151s 1m11.964s
9 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 1m12.642s 1m12.249s 1m12.082s
10 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1m12.877s 1m12.377s 1m12.254s
11 Oscar Piastri McLaren-Mercedes 1m13.006s 1m12.395s
12 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 1m13.054s 1m12.428s
13 Alex Albon Williams-Mercedes 1m12.706s 1m12.527s
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m12.722s 1m12.623s
15 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m13.038s 1m12.625s
16 Logan Sargeant Williams-Mercedes 1m13.113s
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m13.27s
18 Nico Hülkenberg Haas-Ferrari 1m13.279s
19 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m13.523s
20 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1m13.85s
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