Charles Leclerc takes pole at the Monaco Grand Prix, Max Verstappen only 6th

Charles Leclerc takes pole at the Monaco Grand Prix, Max Verstappen only 6th
Charles Leclerc takes pole at the Monaco Grand Prix, Max Verstappen only 6th

Announced as the big favorite for qualifying for the Monaco GP on Saturday, after being the fastest in free practice sessions 2 and 3, Leclerc responded. At the end of several loops on the razor’s edge between the rails, the Monegasque driver went for his third pole position on the Principality turnstile with flying colors, after those obtained in 2021 and 2022. This is his 24th career pole and the 250th in Ferrari history.

Leclerc perhaps scared himself a little during Q1, where he played with fire and struggled to find the right rhythm, not helped by the always heavy traffic on this circuit. But he gradually moved upmarket, setting the 4th time in Q2, before letting go of his Italian mount’s horses during the last qualifying session, the most important. With a time of 1’10”270, he even came close to the absolute track record, held by Lewis Hamilton (1’10”166, in 2019).

Never a prophet in his country on Sunday, Leclerc will necessarily be keen to transform the try this time, especially since Max Verstappen will be far away on the grid (6th). But that does not mean that the Monegasque will be without competition in this 8th round of the season. Oscar Piastri, undoubtedly carried by the special livery of his McLaren inspired by the decoration of Ayrton Senna’s helmet (6 victories and 5 poles in Monaco for the Brazilian legend), gave Leclerc a hard time. Regularly placed at the forefront (2nd in Q1, 3rd in Q2 and 2nd in Q3), the Australian was at ease on the Monegasque track. The second row will be occupied by their teammates, Carlos Sainz (Ferrari, 3rd) and Lando Norris (McLaren, 4th).

End of series for Verstappen

Undefeated this season in the timed lap exercise, Verstappen this time fell on a bone. The talent of the three-time world champion was an illusion but it was not enough to exceed the limits of a car that lacked bite between the rails of Monaco. Ambushed in Q3, the Championship leader had to cut short his last attempt after hitting the rail at the first corner.

The Red Bull driver therefore sees his series of 7 pole positions come to an abrupt end, even if it also reflects a trend which saw his supremacy increasingly contested. The difference in driving was, however, still visible in the Red Bull camp, since his teammate Sergio Perez found himself on the ropes from Q1, unable to do better than the 18th time.

Alpine confirms its progress

Pierre Gasly managed to advance to Q3, a first for the Alpine team this season, and ultimately ranked 10th in qualifying. It was close to Esteban Ocon imitating his teammate, but the Frenchman set the 11th time and was knocked out in Q2… by Gasly. This notably allowed Alexander Albon to also reach Q3 for the first time this season. In Monaco, surprises and twists and turns are never far away.

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