MONTE CARLO – It was a good news, bad news situation for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc on Saturday at Circuit de Monaco.
The Monte Carlo native scored an impressive pole at the tricky circuit, but he crashed his Ferrari during his final fast lap to bring a premature end to qualifying for Formula One’s most historic event.
Having shown speed during each practice session leading into qualifying, Leclerc and Ferrari were considered among the top contenders to take the pole for the Monaco Grand Prix. Leclerc was able to deliver in Q3, setting a fast time of 1:10.346.
However, during his second and final run in Q3 the right-front tire on Leclerc’s Ferrari clipped a barrier and damaged the suspension in his car. Now unable to turn, Leclerc could only hang on as his car smashed into another barrier in the final sector.
The incident happened with mere seconds left in the session, guaranteeing Leclerc’s pole position as other competitors were unable to complete their laps.
The Ferrari team must now assess the damage to Leclerc’s car. Should the team have to replace a gearbox, Leclerc would be penalized and he would lose the pole at his home race.
“It’s a shame to finish in the wall,” Leclerc admitted. “It doesn’t feel the same, 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. Second and third sectors I nailed it. I’m just very, very happy to be on pole obviously.
“It was very, very difficult to manage myself mentally after Q2. I could feel I was quite emotional in the car but I told myself now it’s Q3, now it’s time to put everything together and I managed to do so.”
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified second, falling .230 seconds short of Leclerc’s lap. He’ll go for his first Monaco Grand Prix victory front row on Sunday.
“It was unfortunate of course with the red flag because I felt really comfortable qualifying, just building up to it,” Verstappen said. “Nobody was really putting a lap time in on the first lap. That’s how we basically planned it out, to do basically two laps and then your third lap was the fastest. It was all going really well, but of course the red flag ruined the chance for pole.”
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas qualified third and will start alongside the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz Jr. Lando Norris was fifth for McLaren, with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly qualifying sixth.
Lewis Hamilton, the defending Formula One champion and a three-time Monaco winner, was only able to muster the seventh fastest lap in Q3. It’s the first time this season he hasn’t qualified on the front row.
Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi completed the top-10 in qualifying.