Charles Leclerc will start from pole position on Sunday at 3:00 pm, in his Ferrari, for the 79th Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix, after emerging victorious from a perfectly managed qualifying session. He started it by posting a phenomenal time (1:11.376), in line with his faultless performance since Friday. And the session ended with a big blunder by Sergio Pérez, Max Verstappen’s lieutenant at Red Bull Racing.
This qualifying session, the most anticipated of the entire F1 season, began with Q1 interrupted two minutes from the end, when Yuki Tsunoda hit a safety barrier with his AlphaTauri: five drivers were then eliminated, namely China’s Guanyu Zhou (Alfa Romeo), both Canadians Nicholas Latifi (Williams) and Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), Thailand’s Alex Albon (Williams) and Frenchman Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), who hoped better from this session but was trapped by the red flag.
There was another notable elimination in Q2, Australian Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren), accompanied in his misfortune by Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri), Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) and both Haas drivers, Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher, five drivers grouped together in two tenths of a second. And four teams were to be doubly represented in Q3: Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes and Alpine, while McLaren could only count on Lando Norris and Aston Martin on Sebastian Vettel.
There were only 12 minutes of suspense left and the big crowd, in the grandstands and the VIP boxes, was not disappointed. Most of the spectators, in particular the Monegasques and Italians, were hoping for a pole position for Charles Leclerc. They were overwhelmed by a slightly unexpected 1-2 from the Scuderia, with the added bonus of an ideal scenario: by hitting the safety barrier just before the tunnel, on his own, in the last minutes of the session, Pérez prevented teammate Verstappen from finishing his ultimate attempt to beat Leclerc’s time.
So Leclerc kept his second pole in a row at Monaco Grand Prix, and the 14th of his career, with the added bonus of his great Dutch rival on the second row. It could hardly have turned out better for the Monegasque. The test of truth is still scheduled for Sunday at 3:00 pm. Leclerc will be the real favourite.