Charles Leclerc delivered on Ferrari’s shock Monaco Grand Prix pace to take a brilliant pole position in his home race – but his delight was tempered slightly when he ended the session in the barriers.
The Monegasque put together the fastest lap of the weekend with his first run in Q3 but pushed a little too hard on his second run, clipping the Armco as he turned into the chicane, which broke his front suspension sending him across the kerb and into the barrier on the other side.
That incident brought out the red flag with less than a minute to go, ending the session prematurely and preventing anyone – including Max Verstappen who was purple in sector one – from completing their final lap.
As a result, Leclerc held onto pole, Ferrari’s first since the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix, making him the first Monegasque on pole in Monaco since Louis Chiron (whom Leclerc’s helmet for this weekend is dedicated to) in 1936.
However, it remains unclear how significant the damage is to his Ferrari and whether or not he will incur grid penalties for the changing of parts.
FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX DE MONACO 2021
|1 Charles LECLERC Ferrari||1:10.346|
|2 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing||1:10.576|
|3 Valtteri BOTTAS Mercedes||1:10.601|
|4 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari||1:10.611|
|5 Lando NORRIS McLaren||1:10.620|
Verstappen ended up second, in what is his first front row in Monaco, with Valtteri Bottas the leading Mercedes and completing the top three. Reigning world champion and championship leader Lewis Hamilton ended up down in seventh, starting outside the top six for the fist time since the 2018 German Grand Prix.
Carlos Sainz, who was one of the drivers who had to abort following his team mate’s crash, was fourth – his highest grid slot in the Principality. However, it is the first time he has been outqualified by a team mate around the streets of Monaco.
Lando Norris in the Gulf Oil liveried McLaren was sixth, the team’s best Monaco start since 2012, with Pierre Gasly making it three top six starts in five Grands Prix.
Sebastian Vettel has looked the strongest he has all season this weekend – and he continued that momentum with eighth on the grid, having only escaped Q1 by 0.018s. Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi completed the top 10.
AS IT HAPPENED
Q1 – Schumacher fails to take part, as Bottas sets pace
Mick Schumacher was forced to watch qualifying from the side-lines after losing the rear end of his Haas coming out of Casino Square, which caused so much damage, there wasn’t enough time to repair it.
Sainz, who has been in the top two all weekend, set the early pace, before being usurped first by his former team mate Lando Norris, then by Max Verstappen, before Valtteri Bottas pumped in a lap that was good enough for him to end this segment of qualifying fastest.
His Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton struggled to get in a rhythm, and completed 14 laps – more than anybody else – on his way to the seventh fastest time in what was a very competitive session that saw seven different teams inside the top 10.
At the other end of classification, Fernando Alonso set his best time on his final run, but it wasn’t enough to get through as he was eliminated from Q1 for the first time since the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix.
He was joined in an early finish by Yuki Tsunoda, who endured his third Q1 exit in four races, with Nicholas Latifi – whose Williams team did a great job to get his car ready after an FP3 crash – and Nikita Mazepin plus of course Schumacher the other drivers who failed to progress.
George Russell maintained his record of reaching Q2 at every race this season, while four-time world champion Vettel – who has looked more comfortable in Monaco and outpaced his team mate Stroll – scraped through by just 0.018s.
Knocked out: Tsunoda, Alonso, Latifi, Mazepin, Schumacher