Ferrari looked strong all through the weekend and Leclerc proved speculations true. Charles Leclerc, who grew up on the very streets of Monaco put his Ferrari on pole position with a lap of 1:10.576. Max Verstappen will start from second on the grid for Red Bull and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas from third. This is how qualifying played out on Saturday for the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix.
In the first session of qualifying, the track took its own sweet time to warm up and evolve. For all drivers, lap times began improving over the course of the 18-minute session with Bottas topping the charts. But the bottom five who did not make it through to Q2 include Yuki Tsunoda, Fernando Alonso Nicolas Latifi and Nikita Mazepin. They will start from 16th through to 19th place on the grid respectively. Mick Schumacher was unable to participate in qualifying after a heavy crash in Free Practice 3 in the morning. Schumacher was unharmed in the incident and will start from 20th.
Ferrari seemed to be the most comfortable team this weekend. It was Leclerc set the fastest time of the session with a 1:10.597. But the bottom five that did not make it through to the final session included Esteban Ocon, Daniel Ricciardo, Lance Stroll, Kimi Raikkonen and George Russell. These five drivers will make up the grid in that order starting between 11th to 15th respectively.
On their first run in Q3, Verstappen started the ball rolling with a 1:10.576. But Leclerc went even faster with a 1:10.346. Mercedes looked the most vulnerable of the top runners as Bottas was third fastest and Hamilton was down in seventh, +0.749 off of Leclerc’s pace.
On their second run, Verstappen was unable to improve his time. But we were denied the much-anticipated three-way battle by Leclerc. The Monegasque driver kissed the barrier through the exit of the swimming pool section resulting in a broken steering rack and a crash into the exit barriers. With 18 seconds remaining on the clock, the session was red-flagged and qualifying was over. Leclerc has put Ferrari on pole with Verstappen in second and Bottas, third.
The other Ferrari of Carlos Sainz will start from P4. Lando Norris in the special Gulf liveried McLaren will start from P5. Pierre Gasly will start from P6 on the grid for AlphaTauri. Lewis Hamilton will start from seventh on the grid for Mercedes with Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel alongside him in P8. Sergio Perez will start from ninth for Red Bull and Antonio Giovinazzi in 10th for Alfa Romeo.
However, Leclerc’s pole currently stands provisional. It is possible that he might require a new gearbox for his Ferrari which could result in a 5-place grid penalty. We await confirmation on the same.
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