Leclerc takes Monaco Grand Prix pole position despite crashing

Scuderia Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc claimed pole position at the Monaco Grand Prix in a bizarre circumstances as he crashed with seconds remaining in Q3, which prevented any of his rivals improving.

Leclerc had claimed provisional pole with a time of one minute, 10.346 seconds lap after the opening runs in Q3, where the drivers were each taking several warm-up laps to get their tyres to the best operating temperatures.

He led Max Verstappen by 0.230 seconds, with the Red Bull leading the pack around to start the final runs.

Verstappen had just set the session’s fastest time in the first sector when, ahead of him on the track and about to finish his final flying lap of the session, Leclerc clipped the inside barrier at the second part of the Swimming Pool.

That broke the Ferrari’s right-front suspension and sent him into the barriers on the outside, with the red flags showing with just over ten seconds remaining on the clock.

The Q3 session was not restarted, which meant Leclerc’s lap from earlier stood as the pole time, with Valtteri Bottas ending up third position behind Verstappen.

Carlos Sainz Jr took fourth, with Lando Norris fifth for McLaren – taking an contra-approach in Q3 by running in the middle of the segment and returning to the pits ahead of the final runs.

Pierre Gasly finished sixth, with Lewis Hamilton only seventh for Mercedes.

The world champion struggled with oversteer throughout the session, never looking like he was set the threaten the top spots, and at one point late in Q3 appearing to clip the barrier at Portier.

Sebastian Vettel was eighth ahead of Sergio Perez and Antonio Giovinazzi, who gave Alfa Romeo its first Q3 appearance of the season.

Esteban Ocon found a chunk of time on his final lap in Q2 but ended up 0.077 seconds slower than Giovinazzi as the highest faller in the middle segment.

Behind him, Daniel Ricciardo, Lance Stroll and Kimi Raikkonen all found time on their last laps but were also knocked out.

George Russell qualified P15 after continuing his record of progressing from Q1 at every event so far in 2021. He went faster again in Q2, but could not climb any higher.

In Q1, where all the field completed several laps to build up to speed – Verstappen and Norris had the joint lowest lap count, seven – all the fallers completed their best times in the opening segment on their final runs.

But those improvements where not enough for Yuki Tsunoda and Fernando Alonso, who became to surprise exits for AlphaTauri and Alpine respectively.

Behind them came Nicholas Latifi and Nikita Mazepin, with the latter’s teammate, Mick Schumacher, set to start the race in last after his FP3 shunt at Casino Square.

The damage to the rear and left-hand side of Schumacher’s Haas chassis was so severe that he could not take part in qualifying, with the team continuing to evaluate just how much damage had been done ahead of the session starting.

So an anti-climax end to qualifying as Max Verstappen was about to challenge Charles Leclerc for pole position. But Leclerc misjudged the apex at the Swimming Pool section and into the barriers. At least he achieved the fastest time to take P1 for Ferrari.

Monaco Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:10.346
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:10.576
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:10.601
4 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1:10.611
5 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1:10.620
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:10.900
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:11.095
8 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:11.419
9 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 1:11.573
10 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:11.779
11 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1:11.486
12 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1:11.598
13 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:11.600
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:11.642
15 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:11.830
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 1:12.096
17 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1:12.205
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:12.366
19 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1:12.958
20 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari –

5 thoughts to “Leclerc takes Monaco Grand Prix pole position despite crashing”

  1. Monaco Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by

    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.

    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.

    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

    Q2 – Leclerc rises to the top, as Giovinazzi makes it into Q3

    Sainz once again set the early pace in Q2, the Spaniard the first driver into the 1m10s in qualifying, but the track continued to improve as the session went on, with Verstappen taking top spot after the initial runs.

    However, it was local boy Leclerc who ultimately ended up setting the pace, demoting Verstappen to second, with Bottas third and Sainz holding on to fourth.

    Giovinazzi left himself with everything to do, sitting in the drop zone with only a few minutes to go, but the Italian delivered one of the best qualifying laps of his career to give Alfa Romeo their first Q3 appearance in 2021.

    It wasn’t such good news for Daniel Ricciardo, the two-time Monaco pole-sitter failed to reach Q3 in the Principality for the first time since 2012, as he was once again comfortably outqualified by team mate Lando Norris who ended up sixth.

    Lance Stroll will start a career-best 13th on the grid, having kissed the barriers with his front left tyre, but it wasn’t enough to progress to the top 10 shoot-out. His team mate Vettel had no such problems though, the four-time world champion making it 12 consecutive Q3 appearances in Monaco.

    Knocked out: Ocon, Ricciardo, Stroll, Raikkonen, Russell

    Q3 – Leclerc crashes but still takes pole as Verstappen is forced to abandon his lap

    Coming into the final segment of qualifying, Ferrari were very much in contention for pole position, with their greatest threat appearing to come from Verstappen and Bottas.

    Leclerc set the initial pace, with Sainz having a small slide into the final corner and slotting into third, which became fourth when Bottas nipped one place ahead.

    Hamilton had a big lock up into Rascasse – and could only manage sixth, which soon became seventh, bringing to an end the first runs.

    As they headed back out for a second run, Leclerc was among the first on the road, with his team mate Sainz opting to hang back. Despite having provisional pole, Leclerc continued to push, but went over the limit at the chicane and crashed.

    With the red flag brought out quickly, the session was neutralised and the rest of the field had to back off – giving Leclerc his first pole of 2021. The Monegasque now faces an anxious wait to discover the damage on his car, and whether he will be hit with a grid penalty if he is forced to change his gearbox or other major parts.

  2. Home hero Charles Leclerc fears gearbox damage after ‘big surprise’ pole in Monaco Grand Prix. If there is damage, that’s a grid penalty. has the news story.

    Charles Leclerc fears damage sustained in a crash at the end of qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix could result in a penalty that costs him pole position.

    Leclerc took a shock pole for Ferrari on Saturday in unusual fashion when he crashed on his final Q3 lap after clipping the inside barrier at the exit of Swimming Pool, causing him to go straight into the wall.

    It resulted in a red flag that meant no drivers could improve on their initial times set in Q3, meaning Leclerc’s effort of 1m10.346s was good enough for pole ahead of Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas.

    “It’s a shame to finish in the wall, it doesn’t feel the same,” Leclerc said.

    “But at the same time, I’m incredibly happy about my first timed lap. The first corner was quite tricky, I didn’t do a great first corner, but then second and third sector, I nailed it, and just very, very happy to be on pole.”

    But the impact the rear of the car made with the barrier at the exit of the chicane raised concerns that Leclerc could be set for a penalty should his gearbox be damaged and require changing.

    Asked if he was worried about the gearbox, Leclerc replied: “I am, but let’s see.”

    Should Leclerc receive a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, it would promote Red Bull driver Verstappen to the front of the grid for Sunday’s race, and drop Leclerc to sixth.

    The result marked Leclerc’s eighth pole position in F1, and his first since the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix, coming as a major achievement for Ferrari following its struggles last year.

    Ferrari has spent the early part of the season battling in F1’s midfield, but joined the fight with Mercedes and Red Bull in practice on Thursday in Monaco.

    Leclerc finished fastest in Q2, and admitted that he found it “very, very tricky to manage myself mentally” after the session, realising Ferrari could be in a strong position.

    “I could feel I was quite emotional in the car, but I told myself, it’s Q3, now it’s time to put everything together,” Leclerc said.

    “I managed to do so, so I’m incredibly happy. But it’s tomorrow that we score points.

    “But I have to say that it’s a big surprise to be on pole and in fourth place for the race tomorrow.”

  3. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was confident that ‘pole was on’ before Monaco Grand Prix Q3 red flag caused by Charles Leclerc crashing his Ferrari. has the full story.

    Red Bull Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen felt confident that “pole position was on” for Red Bull in Monaco before a red flag at the end of Q3 forced him to abandon his final lap.

    Verstappen headed into qualifying chasing his second pole position of the season after topping final practice in Monaco, setting up a close battle with Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc.

    Leclerc took provisional pole by two-tenths of a second from Verstappen on the first Q3 runs, leaving the Dutchman second heading into the closing stages of the session.

    Verstappen was up on his previous time through the first sector, only for a red flag caused by a crash for Leclerc at the exit of Swimming Pool to bring the session to an early end.

    It sparked an angry reaction from Verstappen in his Red Bull cockpit, telling his engineer: “For f**k’s sake man, this would have been the f**cking lap.”

    “I was 0.150s up before going into the tunnel, and I knew on the previous lap, I made a mistake in Turn 10, 11, where I lost more than a tenth,” Verstappen explained after the session.

    “So I knew that pole position was on, especially on the second timed lap. I had a lot more grip on the tyres, even the last sector would normally have been an improvement.

    “But that’s would haves, should haves, I don’t really care about that. The fact is that there was a red flag. That’s it, it’s what it is.”

    Verstappen could yet start the race from P1 on the grid amid fears for Leclerc and Ferrari that damage sustained in the crash will force a gearbox change, which would trigger a five-place grid penalty.

    Verstappen had been left feeling uneasy about Red Bull’s chances after practice on Thursday, but was pleased by the turnaround ahead of qualifying.

    “We had a really good recovery from Thursday when we were struggling a lot with balance,” Verstappen said.

    “Today we were very competitive. It’s so narrow around here, and you just build up of course through practice to qualifying. I felt really comfortable in the car, from Q1, Q2, Q3.

    “I knew pole position was on. It was of course going to be tight with Charles, who was of course driving really well. But yeah, nevertheless second, I can be quite happy with that.”

    Verstappen is set for a golden chance to make inroads on Lewis Hamilton’s 14-point lead at the top of the drivers’ championship after the Mercedes driver could only qualify seventh.

    “It’s always important to score a lot of points, but of course, you need to be ahead of your main rivals as much as you can,” Verstappen said.

    “So today was good, but of course we need to finish that off tomorrow.”

  4. Championship leader Lewis Hamilton suffered a difficult session in which he only managed P7 and said that a win in now out of reach after Monaco qualifying “disaster”. provides the details.

    Lewis Hamilton feels victory in the Monaco Grand Prix is “out of reach” after a “disaster” in qualifying that saw him only secure seventh place on the grid.

    Mercedes struggled to match Ferrari and Red Bull’s pace through much of practice in Monaco, and failed to feature in the fight for pole position.

    Valtteri Bottas was able to secure third place in the initial Q3 runs, but Hamilton ailed to seventh, lapping three quarters of a second off provisional pole-sitter Charles Leclerc’s laptime.

    Hamilton was on his final Q3 push when he was forced to abandon the lap after Leclerc crashed at Swimming Pool, bringing out a red flag and ending qualifying early.

    It means Hamilton will start the race from seventh on the grid at one of the hardest tracks to overtake around, leaving him downbeat about his chances.

    “It’s almost impossible to overtake,” Hamilton said. “From where we are it’s pretty much the case, when everyone’s on the same speed.

    “Saturday is the day so obviously that really does put for sure the win out of reach, but I guess the minimum will be hopefully seventh.

    “Then we’ve got to try and somehow see how we can move forward.”

    Tyre warm-up has been a weakness for Mercedes in the early part of the 2021 season, albeit more so for Bottas instead of Hamilton.

    Hamilton said that the problem “didn’t feel too bad on Thursday”, only for changes to make it “pretty terrible” come qualifying.

    “We’ll go back to the drawing board,” Hamilton said. “I think from my point, I just had such a lack of grip which then leads you to try to kind of overdrive and start pushing to get more from it, but it just doesn’t improve.

    “So yeah, difficult one. Obviously, Valtteri was able to get something out of it. But I think we we’ve definitely had some problems today.”

    Speaking to Dutch TV broadcaster Ziggo, Hamilton called it a “pretty disastrous weekend so far”, and said he doubted he would have improved his position without the red flag.

    “No, that was a disaster for me,” he said. “I was going to come in anyway.

    “Tomorrow afternoon, it’s a long, long day. Not the most exciting, potentially, but I’m hoping to try and see if we can move forwards.”

  5. Alpine Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso says his team has question marks on its lack of pace in Monaco following the Spaniard’s 17th place in qualifying.

    After qualifying 10th two weeks ago for his home grand prix in Barcelona, Alonso failed to progress to Q2 for the first time this season.

    The double F1 world champion finished 17th in Q1, four tenths behind Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon, who did go through to Q2 and qualified 11th.

    Alonso said his team has question marks over its lack of pace in the streets of the principality after showing improved form in Portugal and Spain.

    “There’s still some question marks I think for the team to find out,” Alonso said.

    “I think in Portugal and Barcelona we were definitely progressing and being quite competitive while here we were quite down on the times, so it’s still a little bit under investigation.”

    Despite being outqualified by Ocon in the past four races, Alonso played down suggestions he was lacking confidence in the car.

    “No, I think the confidence was good,” he added. “I was able to push the car and extract the maximum. It’s always a bit messy in Q1 with traffic and things like that, that was not ideal.

    “But I don’t think that was the cause of being out of Q2, we didn’t have the pace. I think the whole weekend we’ve been struggling a little bit with the pace.

    “We were expecting more from Monaco on our package, but we didn’t deliver. The race is going to be difficult starting at the back, no doubt. But let’s see what we can do.”

    Executive director Marcin Budkowski explained Alpine is struggling to get the most out of its Pirelli tyres this weekend, which left the Enstone engineers “scratching our heads”.

    “It was not a good weekend overall for us and unfortunately it’s not really getting any better,” Budkowski said to Sky Sports F1.

    “We’ve struggled to get the tyres to work all weekend, and I think that’s still the case for Fernando.

    “That’s the tricky bit about these tyres. I think some cars, like the Ferraris, just seem to get them to work properly and some cars struggle more.

    “And quite often the ones that switch them on quicker are the ones that wear them also quicker. It’s a difficult balance to get.”

    Budkowski revealed Ocon was in the same boat as his teammate throughout the weekend but managed to get his tyres to grip up at the end of Q1, yielding a time that was comfortably quick enough to progress.

    “We’ve been scratching our heads, and had some simulator running yesterday to try to get it right,” he explained.

    “Interestingly Esteban, for the first time, his second run in Q1, started to feel the grip from the tyres.”


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