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Qualifying in Monaco: Charles Leclerc secures pole in thrilling surprise action around Monte Carlo

Written by Maria Fashchevskaya, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

Home hero Charles Leclerc took his third pole around the streets of Monaco, ahead of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and teammate Carlos Sainz. Reigning world champion Max Verstappen struggled, starting from sixth in the race, while Pierre Gasly made his first Q3 appearance this season. Read about all the action of qualifying in Monaco here.

Image Credits: McLaren F1 on X

Another race week is underway, as Formula One is racing in the Principality of Monaco – one of the most prestigious races and tracks in the world. Qualifying around the Circuit de Monaco is crucial because the narrow nature of the street circuit makes it almost impossible to overtake all around the track. 

Most definitely, it would be a battle between Ferrari and Red Bull, while McLaren and Mercedes look strong in Monaco, too. However, reigning champion Max Verstappen struggled heavily, while driving around Monte Carlo. 

"We've improved the car. We knew coming here, this would be one of our biggest challenges, this and Singapore. Leclerc is very, very quick - he's going to be hard to beat", said Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner, ahead of qualifying. But still, would the issues – reportedly with the ride height – affect Verstappen’s qualifying?


As the first part of qualifying was about to unfold, a traffic jam ensued in the pitlane: every driver wanted to go out and knock in a good time in Monaco. Lewis Hamilton was the first driver to start a flying lap around Monte Carlo, having a good chance of placing high on the grid here. The cars were first trying to get a couple of preparation laps, before knocking in a fast representative time around the track. Everyone went out on soft tyres.

Eleven minutes to go, and George Russell went fastest with 1:12.267s on the board, as Verstappen usurped him, being 0.183s faster than the Brit. Meanwhile, the time from Nico Hulkenberg looked genuine, as he placed himself at the top with a 1:12.416s, a tenth and a half faster than his teammate. 

Then the stewards noted an impeding moment by Carlos Sainz at turn 15, Alex Albon the driver impeded by the Spaniard, to be investigated after the session.

Image Credits: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team on X

With nine and a half minutes to go, Oscar Piastri knocked in a time of 1.11.881s and dived into the pits. At that time, the Ferraris did not knock in brilliant times, as Charles Leclerc sat in 13th and Sainz in fourth, doing slightly better than his teammate. 

Both Sauber drivers were still in the elimination zone, as they could not improve their first lap times. At risk were also both RB drivers and Logan Sargeant in the Williams, being at risk of losing his seat next season. The Red Bull of Sergio Perez surprisingly sat in 15th position, not improving on lap times.

Then home hero Leclerc usurped everyone with a time of 1:11.653s. With around three minutes to go, Alex Albon was at risk of being eliminated but pushed himself though by improving to fifth place in Q1. He pushed out Norris and Ricciardo, both at risk of elimination.

As the chequered flag was waved, Norris, Piastri and Perez were the last drivers on flying laps. While both McLarens squeezed through, the Mexican could not put together a decent flying lap. 

Surprisingly, he was eliminated in Q1, along with Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin. The fastest time overall was set by George Russell, while Max Verstappen sat in fourth, the first five positions were separated by less than 0.1s combined. 

Knocked out: Alonso, Sargeant, Perez, Bottas, Zhou


With the start of the second part of qualifying, we need to remember that Sergio Perez had been bumped while both Alpines were through to Q2. Again, traffic ensued in the pit lane, with multiple cars driving out, at the same time. 

This time it was Lando Norris to be the first driver on a flying lap, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and home hero Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. The Brit knocked in a 1:11.372s on the timing board, but was usurped by the other two drivers who were on timed laps behind him.

Then there came Nico Hulkenberg around the corner in turn one and made contact with the wall, albeit getting away with it. Meanwhile, Yuki Tsunoda sped to third position with a 1:11.257s, positioning himself just behind Verstappen and Leclerc. 

With ten minutes to go, both Mercedes’, Ocon and Stroll still did not knock in any lap times, sitting in the elimination zone. With heavy traffic around the pit exit, time could be crucial in this qualifying.

Image Credits: Haas F1 Team on X

An impeding incident by Hulkenberg on Ocon at turn three would also be investigated after the session. As replays showed, the German was clearly in the way of the Alpine. At that time, Verstappen set another overall best time. With a speedy 1:11.019s, the Dutchman appeared not to have issues with the car anymore.

The Alpines of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly suddenly found pace in Monaco. As they soared to fourth and sixth place, they placed with a margin of 0.2-0.3s to the current leader. Meanwhile, everyone in the elimination zone was in the pits: Stroll, Albon, both Haas drivers and Ricciardo. The latter has been under pressure recently to secure his seat in F1. 

With five minutes to go, George Russell improved to second, while Oscar Piastri knocked in another best overall time with 1:10.756s. He went into the pits afterwards, feeling safe to go through to Q3 and managing tyres. 

The Australian was usurped by Charles Leclerc, with a gap of 0.069s. However, Norris eclipsed both with a time of 1:10.732s, speeding out of the elimination zone. Therefore, both Alpines were at risk of being bumped again.

Another driver at risk was Lance Stroll on his final flying lap in Q2 he could not improve and was knocked out. Esteban Ocon went into the pits, being bumped afterwards by his teammate. 

Pierre Gasly went fifth fastest, having an enthusiastic and cheering reaction over the team radio on that performance. Both Haas drivers were in the pits, and did not fight for improvement into Q3. Finally, Yuki Tsunoda secured himself for Q3, with Alex Albon following him in, albeit at the expense of Tsunoda’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo. 

Knocked out: Ocon, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Stroll, Magnussen

Image Credits: Red Bull Content Pool


Qualifying would finish in a close battle, as had been seen in the previous two parts of the session. As the final minutes of qualifying unfolded, the cars sped out to go around the circuit in Monte Carlo. 

Lewis Hamilton was the first to have a flying lap, finishing it with a 1:10.975s on the board, as many drivers were on simple preparation laps. Monegasque Charles Leclerc roared to the top though, by half a second, while both McLarens followed behind. Oscar Piastri trailed by 0.026s to the home hero. 


Max Verstappen lost time on his first flying lap in Q3 mostly in the third sector, as he went third on the provisional grid. With five minutes to go, Alex Albon was the only one out on track for a new representative time. 

At this point in Q3, Leclerc could be seen on a provisional pole with Piastri next to him in the front row. Verstappen and Ferrari’s Sainz followed them, then Russell and Norris. Alex Albon finished his last lap, setting himself into seventh position, delighted with his performance. 

He went into the pits right away. In the eighth position was Hamilton, followed by Gasly and Tsunoda. 

With fresh rubber, everyone went out of the pits for one last try in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix. With two minutes to go, the Mercedes were on timed laps, as Hamilton rushed to fourth place, and Russell to third fastest. 

Charles Leclerc on pole position; Image Credits: Formula One

It was a pole position for Charles Leclerc, as the home hero of Monaco finished his last try in qualifying with a 1:10.270s on the board. 

He could only be challenged by Oscar Piastri and Carlos Sainz – in second and third, respectively – however, they could not improve their times to beat the Monegasque. Norris followed in fourth, to secure a second-row start for him tomorrow. 

Max Verstappen did not finish his last timed lap and would start from sixth place, following George Russell. The Dutchman will start in front of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Yuki Tsunoda. Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly secured ninth and tenth positions on the grid respectively.  

Who will win the epic Monaco Grand Prix tomorrow? Let’s watch and find out tomorrow at 2 p.m. BST (3 p.m. track time). 


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