Monaco GP Qualifying: Charles Leclerc takes pole in Monaco.

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Charles Leclerc became the first Monégasque driver to win pole position in Monaco with a 1m10.346s. Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas rounded off the top three after the two were left frustrated following Leclerc’s last-minute crash.


Qualifying 1

Ferrari and Red Bull were the top dogs on Thursday and this morning’s FP3, while Mercedes struggled with real stability for much of this morning’s session. The qualifying session began with cloudy skies but with track temperatures nearing 35 degrees, lights went green and there was a stampede for cars heading out onto the track.

The Williams of George Russell set the first lap time of the session with a 1m17.580s, but immediately complained on the radio, “The tyres aren’t up to temperature.” With 19 cars on track – Mick Schumacher missing out after his massive crash at Casino Square – teams filled up cars with medium fuel load, to negate the traffic and balance the tyre temperatures.

After the first set of lap times, it was Carlos Sainz who set the benchmark of 1m11.341s, followed by Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, within two-tenths of each other. Kimi Räikkönen overshot the braking point at Sainte Devote and had to take the escape route.

With the sun coming out, track temperatures increased and times began to tumble. Valtteri Bottas went quickest with a 1m10.938s, followed by Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen. Lando Norris finished a strong fourth place, ahead of Carlos Sainz in fifth.

Fernando Alonso was the biggest shock as he missed the cut and finished 17th. Yuki Tsunoda joined him as another major scalp in 16th. With Mick Schumacher already out of qualifying, Nicholas Latifi and Nikita Mazepin rounded off the bottom five for tomorrow’s grid.


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Qualifying 2

The AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly, followed by the Ferraris of Sainz and Leclerc, led the train of cars coming out of the pit lane. Hamilton continued to struggle with oversteer, but Bottas’ radio message suggested the Finn was happy with his setup.

With all 15 cars on track, drivers spaced themselves out before going gung-ho in their second laps. After their first set of respectable times, it was a Ferrari one-two at the top – Sainz with a benchmark of 1m10.806s. Leclerc, Verstappen, Hamilton and Bottas rounded off the Top 5.

Midway through, and Max Verstappen went quickest with a 1m10.650s, while Lando Norris split the two Ferraris to place himself nicely in third. Daniel Ricciardo sat at the cusp of elimination, while Lance Stroll, on his out lap, brushed the Armco barrier out of Portier.

Four minutes left, and all the cars came out again. With the track constantly evolving and rain on the horizon, teams didn’t want to gamble on anything. Charles Leclerc jumped to the top with a 1m10.597s in the dying stages. Verstappen finished the session in second, followed by Bottas, Sainz and Sergio Pérez, who rounded off the Top 5.

Esteban Ocon and the 2018 Monaco GP winner, Daniel Ricciardo, finished P11 and P12. Lance Stroll missed out at 13th, while Räikkönen and George Russell rounded off the bottom five for the session.


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Qualifying 3

With seven different teams in the Top 10, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly came out first on track, who set the first official time of the session with a 1m11.8s. After the first set of lap times it was Leclerc with the fastest time of 1m10.346s, disposing of Max Verstappen from the lead. Carlos Sainz went third fastest with a 1m10.611s, while championship leader Lewis Hamilton sat in P7.

Bottas improved in his second lap, going third fastest, just ahead of Carlos Sainz. With five minutes remaining, Max Verstappen was the first of the front runners to go out for his second run, while Hamilton clipped the barriers coming out of Portier, and aborted his lap.

Just 18 seconds to go, the session got red-flagged as Charles Leclerc hit the barriers on the first apex coming out of the Swimming Pool area and broke his front rear suspension. With the session suspended, Charles Leclerc took pole.

Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas both did personal bests in their first sectors, but Leclerc’s crash meant they had to settle for P2 and P3. Carlos Sainz will be starting tomorrow’s race from fourth, while Lando Norris will be mighty pleased with a fifth place on the grid.

Pierre Gasly rounded off a great lap to finish in sixth ahead of championship leader Lewis Hamilton in seventh. Sebastian Vettel will be happy with an eighth place, while Sergio Pérez will be disappointed with a subdued ninth place for tomorrow’s race. Antonio Giovinazzi didn’t pull out any trees and finished in tenth for the session.


Written By
Rahul Saha

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