Monaco Grand Prix: Leclerc on pole position despite crash

Charles Leclerc took a surprise pole position for Ferrari at the Monaco Grand Prix despite crashing on his last run of qualifying.

Monaco Grand Prix: Leclerc on pole position despite crash

Lewis Hamilton could manage only seventh on the grid for Mercedes as title rival Max Verstappen took second for Red Bull.

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was third, from Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

Leclerc’s first flying lap in final qualifying was enough for pole but the crash curtailed what had looked set to be a thrilling climax to the session.

The Ferraris have been on the pace all weekend and went into qualifying looking set to fight for pole position with Verstappen and the Mercedes drivers.

And Leclerc delivered on his team’s potential with a strong performance at his home race. He was fastest in second qualifying and then 0.24 seconds quicker than Verstappen on his first lap of the final session.

All the drivers had one last chance to shoot for pole, and Leclerc was building up to his final lap when he misjudged the entry to the second chicane around the Swimming Pool.

Monaco Grand Prix: Leclerc on pole position despite crash

It was the classic accident at that corner – Leclerc clipped the wall with his inside wheel on the first right-hand, bounced over the kerb on the second, left-handed part and smashed into the wall

Leclerc said: “It is a shame to finish in the wall. It doesn’t feel the same but at the same time I am incredibly happy about my first timed lap. The first sector did not go well but I nailed the second and third sectors.

“It is a big surprise to be on pole and in fourth place.”

Monaco Grand Prix: Leclerc on pole position despite crash

However, there is yet a risk that he could lose the place. If his gearbox is damaged enough to need replacing, he will be given a five-place grid penalty.

He was asked after the session whether he was worried about this, and replied: “I am, but let’s see.”

Verstappen said: “It was unfortunate with the red flag. I felt really comfortable with qualifying. We planned it out to do two laps and then third lap is the fastest.

“Nevertheless, so far a very good weekend. We recovered very well from Thursday.”

Bottas said he was “gutted” not to get a final chance to improve on third place.

What happened to Hamilton?

Hamilton never looked quick at any point throughout qualifying, lagging behind his team-mate throughout and struggling with lack of grip, particularly caused by struggles with getting the front tyres up to the right temperature.

He ended the session more than 0.4secs behind Bottas, and behind also McLaren’s Lando Norris and Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly, and faces the real prospect of Verstappen taking a big chunk out of his championship lead.

Hamilton goes into the race 14 points ahead of Verstappen but with overtaking so difficult around Monaco the Dutchman has a great chance to eat significantly into Hamilton’s advantage.

Source: BBC

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