Leclerc off the grid, Verstappen on pole
There’s not enough time, and Ferrari confirm their former pole-sitter will not head out to the grid. He may still make a pit-lane start, but that’s not guaranteed yet, either. That means Max Verstappen moves up to pole position!
Bad news for Ferrari! The drivers are out on the Circuit de Monaco, Leclerc gingerly testing out that gearbox after his 100mph collision today. And it’s not looking good: “no, no, no” is all Leclerc can say over the team radio, before rolling back into the paddock. Ferrari took a risk not replacing it and taking the hit on the grid; now, they’re in a frantic race to get Leclerc’s car up and running, or face a pit-lane start at best.
Twenty-five years ago saw one of the most dramatic, unpredictable races at Monaco. As the rain fell and favourites were skittled out, only three drivers finished – with Olivier Panis securing his only F1 grand prix win:
1 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 2 Max Verstappen (Neth) Red Bull
3 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes 4 Carlos Sainz (Sp) Ferrari
5 Lando Norris (GB) McLaren 6 Pierre Gasly (Fr) AlphaTauri
7 Lewis Hamilton (GB) Mercedes 8 S Vettel (Ger) Aston Martin
9 Sergio Pérez (Mex) Red Bull 10 A Giovinazzi (It) Alfa Romeo
11 Esteban Ocon (Fr) Alpine 12 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) McLaren
13 L Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 14 K Raikkonen (Fin) Alfa Romeo
15 G Russell (GB) Williams; 16 Y Tsunoda (Jpn) AlphaTauri
17 Fernando Alonso (Sp) Alpine 18 Nicholas Latifi (Can) Williams
19 Nikita Mazepin (Raf) Haas 20 Mick Schumacher (Ger) Haa F1
After a Covid-enforced break in 2020, the Monaco Grand Prix is back. This might be the most famous circuit in motor sport, its relentless twists and turns the litmus test for F1 greatness, but that doesn’t always create the greatest racing spectacle. Nelson Piquet, who never won here, described driving it as “like cycling around your living room”.
A little bit cooler, maybe. But Lewis Hamilton lamented this week that “it is never exciting for fans.” It may be a different story today, with home favourite Charles Leclerc a surprise pole-sitter despite the crash that brought qualifying to a dramatic halt. The Ferrari man is clear to start on pole, his gearbox emerging unscathed from Saturday’s collision.
Leclerc will have title contender Max Verstappen right behind him, with Hamilton trailing behind in seventh, cursing Monte Carlo’s narrow streets and lack of overtaking opportunities. It’s a chance for F1’s flagship event to shake off accusations of style over substance. But if not, so what? Style is substance, and Monaco has plenty. Lights out: 3pm local, 2pm BST.