Home favourite Leclerc dominates qualifying to secure Monaco pole

By Balazs Szabo on

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc continued to impress at Monte Carlo, setting the pace in the all-important qualifying session to secure the pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix. Carlos Sainz will line up second with Sergio Perez taking P3 ahead of his team mate Max Verstappen.

Tsunoda induces small interruption – Q1

As soon as Ferrari sent out their drivers on to the track, Leclerc and Sainz dictated the pace, beating the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Perez.

While Mercedes driver George Russell did appear to struggle for pace in the early part of the session, he managed to secure P3, using a second fresh set of red-walled Pirelli tyres.

Yuki Tsunoda hit the barriers at the Nouvelle Chicane, causing a red flag period with just over two minutes to go. The Japanese driver managed to continue and crawl back to the pits which enabled his team to repair his car.

As there was enough time to restart the session, drivers received a last shot at the end of Q1. With the exception of the first five drivers – Leclerc, Sainz, Russell, Verstappen and Perez – everyone headed out on to the track.

Alexander Albon was very quick at his last attempt, confirming his speed on the tight streets of the Principality. However, it was not enough to get himself through, ending the session as the fastest knocked-out driver.

The big victim of the interruption was Pierre Gasly, who appeared to be a real contender for the best-of the rest places in the practice sessions. The Frenchman was held up on his warm-up lap which meant he just missed the chance to cross the start line before the session finished.

Ironically, his team mate Tsunoda, who caused the red flag period, managed to set a strong lap time and get promotion into the next qualifying segment.

Eliminated were Alexander Albon, Pierre Gasly, Lance Stroll, Nicholas Latifi and Guanyu Zhou.

No Haas in the last segment – Q2

Drivers were in such a rush that the majority of them line up in the pit lane before the middle part of the qualifying session began, trying to set a meaningful time in the Monaco qualifying which is notoriously difficult to manage due to the high possibility of interruptions.

After topping the first qualifying segment, Leclerc went on to set the benchmark in Q2 as well, but he was only marginally faster thank Perez with Sainz and Verstappen a bit further adrift.

Despite still struggling from tonsillitis, Norris put his McLaren on P5 in the middle part of the qualifying session, narrowly beating Esteban Ocon.

While Hamilton was off the pace in Q1, he managed to raise his speed, securing the seventh fastest time. Sebastian Vettel split the two Mercedes in P8 with Russell and Fernando Alonso rounding out the top ten in Q2

Eliminated were Yuki Tsunoda, Valtteri Bottas, Kevin Magnussen, Daniel Ricciardo and Mick Schumacher.

Perez causes late drama – Q3

The last qualifying segment saw Leclerc raise the bar even higher, setting the fastest lap of the weekend with a time of 1m11.376s. An eye-wateringly close battle formed behind the home favourite with Sainz coming out on top of the fight, going over two tenths of a second slower than his team mate and narrowly beating Perez and Verstappen.

The Dutchman did not appear to be in harmony with his car during the qualifying session which prompted him to head out first for the last run in Q3. The reason was that the reigning champion wanted to have two hot laps on his last run. While he managed to improve his previous best time, his penultimate effort was not enough to climb up the order.

By contrast, Leclerc was about to set a brilliant time, setting purple S1 time and purple mini sectors in the middle part of the track, but he was forced to ease off as Perez crashed out at Turn 8.

The Mexican lost control just before the tunnel, causing huge damage to the rear of his RB18. The under-pressure Sainz was running closely behind and was unable to avoid the stricken Red Bull, collecting him. The incident finished the session as there was no time to restart the qualifying.

It meant that Leclerc took majestic pole on home turf with Sainz securing P2. Red Bull’s Perez and Verstappen will line up on the second row in this order with McLaren’s Lando Norris and Mercedes racer George Russell securing P5 and P6.

Alonso put in a brilliant display to take P7, beating Lewis Hamilton while Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Ocon will form the fifth row tomorrow.

Commenting on his second pole position on home turf, Leclerc said: “It is very special. I’m so incredibly happy. It’s been a very smooth weekend until now; I knew the pace was in the car I just had to do the job and it went perfectly. That last lap before the red flag was very very good. But anyway, it didn’t change anything for us.”


Pos. No. Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:12.569 1:11.864 1:11.376 24
2 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:12.616 1:12.074 1:11.601 25
3 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing Rbpt 1:13.004 1:11.954 1:11.629 25
4 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Rbpt 1:12.993 1:12.117 1:11.666 25
5 4 Lando Norris Mclaren Mercedes 1:12.927 1:12.266 1:11.849 27
6 63 George Russell Mercedes 1:12.787 1:12.617 1:12.112 27
7 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault 1:13.394 1:12.688 1:12.247 22
8 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:13.444 1:12.595 1:12.560 29
9 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 1:13.313 1:12.613 1:12.732 28
10 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 1:12.848 1:12.528 1:13.047 22
11 22 Yuki Tsunoda Alphatauri Rbpt 1:13.110 1:12.797 20
12 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1:13.541 1:12.909 17
13 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:13.069 1:12.921 20
14 3 Daniel Ricciardo Mclaren Mercedes 1:13.338 1:12.964 21
15 47 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari 1:13.469 1:13.081 17
16 23 Alexander Albon Williams Mercedes 1:13.611 14
17 10 Pierre Gasly Alphatauri Rbpt 1:13.660 10
18 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 1:13.678 11
19 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes 1:14.403 13
20 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1:15.606 9