Charles Leclerc confirmed the pole position with a sigh of relief and laughter on Saturday after the crash-hit final of a dramatic qualifying session for his home Monaco Grand Prix.
The 24-year-old Monegasque driver was ahead of teammate Carlos Sange in a commanding Ferrari front row lock-out to claim the fifth pole of his season and the 14th of his career.
Sange’s hopes of snatching the prime grid position from Leclerc were shattered in his last lap when he collided with Sergio Perez’s Red Bull, just seconds after the Mexican hit his Red Bull in the Portia barrier.
“It’s very embarrassing,” Senge said. “I tried to avoid him as much as possible. It’s another year when a red flag at the end of a session has cost us and I can’t go for the polls, but it’s very common for Monaco. “
Perez finished third ahead of his Red Bull Team-Mate series leader and defending champion Max Verstappen, who was a disappointing fourth.
Last year, Leclerc collapsed after securing the pole, but he was unable to start the race and was looking for his first finish on the streets of his local Mediterranean kingdom.
“It’s very special to me,” said one delighted Leclerc, who is six points behind Verstappen in the title race. “I am incredibly happy!
“So far this has been a very smooth weekend. There was speed in the car, I just had to do the job. It went perfectly and that last lap before the red flag was really, really good, but it didn’t change anything for us.
“It was really within range, but the car looked amazing and it felt great to have Carlos with me in the front row.”
With black clouds and rain forecasts for Sunday, he added: “I think the drought is a little more predictable, but whatever it is we’re competitive so we’re good.”
Sainz added: “We had a really good pace all day just making it for ‘Quali’ but we will never know. Anyway, let’s finish the job tomorrow. I think we are in a great position to have great results for the team. The car looks amazing and we’ll go for it. “
Leclerc clocked a superb lap clock of one minute and 11.376 seconds to give Senge a lead of more than two-tenths in an isolated end in action on an intriguing day ahead of Sunday’s classic 78-lap race.
Behind the Ferraris and the Red Bulls, Lando led the rest of the pack for Norris McLaren, and was fifth behind Mercedes ‘friend and colleague George Britain, Britain’s George Russell, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
‘I have no hands’
Alonso survived a late-night crash after carefully checking the expected weather forecast for rain in the Mediterranean state on Sunday.
Norris was first out for the most famous qualifier of the season, his time was quickly lost to Hamilton before Worstapen went to the top.
With clouds and cold weather prevailing, the track clearly evolved into slightly changed conditions. The air temperature was 25 degrees and the track was 47, 52 for the final exercise.
Russell reports on Team Radio, “I have no type,” a complaint reflecting a typical initial struggle before the tires warmed up and the grip improved.
He persevered as Alpha Romeo’s Zhu Guanieu hit an obstacle in the ‘Nouvelle’ chicken when he suffered a stab wound and headed to the top with a fence led by Ferrari Laklark before the red flag action stopped late.
And with only four minutes left, enough time for another flying call, but not enough for Hamilton, Botas, Pierre Gasley or Zhou, the only Rocky on the field who missed their chance.
Alex Alban of Williams, Gasley of Alpha Tauri, Lance Stroll of Aston Martin, Nicholas Latifi of William II and Zhou came out in a stream of obscenities. This is the first time Gasley has failed to advance from Q3 in Monaco.
In the second session, Yuki Sunoda of Alpha Tory, Valteri Botas of Alfa Romeo, Kevin Magnussen and his laughing teammates Mick Schumacher and Daniel Ricciardo, the driver under pressure from McLaren, were out.
Leclerc, however, showed no such concern as he set the pace again in a top-ten shootout with a stunning lap, two-tenths faster than Sange.
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