Leclerc claims home pole as Perez suffers late crash


Alex Kalinauckas

Leclerc had led his team-mate Carlos Sainz into Q3 before the final laps, with his 1m 11.376s the best time for pole.

Perez looked to be Red Bull’s best hope for pole after topping FP3 and leading Max Verstappen throughout qualifying, and he was behind Leclerc on the final flyers on the soft tyres, the second set for the top three runners in the final Segment.

Leclerc set a purple sector in the first third of his final attempt – he finished with the fastest time in all three based on his lap of 1:11.376 – while following Perez was unable to set a personal best at the time.

While Leclerc exited the tunnel, Perez lost the rear of his Red Bull and crashed the right rear of his car into the barriers at Portier’s exit, whereupon Sainz also spun as he rounded the right-hand bend and found the wrecked Red Bull.

Sainz therefore hit the front right wheel of Perez’s car and was also stranded, with the red flags flying preventing late improvements or position changes as there was less than a minute left of Q3 and no chance of a restart.

That cemented Leclerc’s second straight Monaco pole, with Sainz’s best time from the start of Q3 0.225s adrift while Perez was third thanks to a 1m11.629s.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

Verstappen ran a set of softs throughout as he decided to keep chasing time to the flag, finishing fourth and unable to improve – he had just set a personal best in the first sector 0.1s off Leclerc’s lead – because of the incident of his teammate.

Lando Norris was fifth just before the leaders started their final laps while George Russell was sixth for Mercedes.

Alpine’s Fernando Alonso was seventh – but he too had a late crash and ended up in the Mirabeau barriers at almost the same time Perez and Sainz were crashed further down in sector two.

Lewis Hamilton was eighth, with Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Ocon completing the top 10.

Leclerc led the middle segment of the session, which marked a worrying moment for the Ferrari driver as he missed his call to visit the FIA ​​weighbridge with just over five minutes remaining in Q2.

Luckily for Leclerc, he stopped in the pit lane before returning to his pits and was thus able to be pushed back by his mechanics to be weighed – which should result in him not receiving a sports penalty as the return to the Ferrari box risked disqualification in qualifying.

At the end of Q2, Yuki Tsunoda failed to set a personal best when it mattered and he retired in 11th place.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

Valtteri Bottas jumped from 15th to 12th in his last run, Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher also had their fastest times of the session on their last aviators.

They finished 13th and 15th, edging between them McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo, who also set a personal best at the end of the second quarter but couldn’t get higher than 14th.

In Q1, which Leclerc also led, Tsunoda clipped on the inside wall of the hairpin and suffered an instant puncture with just over two minutes of that segment remaining, causing the red flags to be raised.

That led to a huge queue at the end of pit lane as the top five drivers at the time rushed out to try and secure a final lap, with track development being a big factor in who got through the early sessions when the rubber was wearing off and riders were building confidence.

But gaps that appeared between cars in the long line exiting pit lane meant several drivers missed a chance to even start one last flyer, eliminating Pierre Gasly and Zhou Guanyu in 17th and 20th place respectively – the efforts of the the former as bankers slowly went back down the order until Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri teammate was knocked out with a chance for one last try.

Alex Albon had led the line-up of cars at the bottom of the pit lane and set a personal best on his final lap, but was subsequently pushed back as others behind found time.

This was particularly the case for the Tsunoda and the two McLaren drivers, all of whom jumped out of the drop zone on their final Q1 laps to leave Albon in 16th place.

Lance Stroll couldn’t get a better time on his last Q1 run and was eliminated from his team radio in 18th ahead of Nicholas Latifi who saved his best for the final point but couldn’t get better than 19th.


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