Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc seized pole position for his home Grand Prix for a second successive season after a one-lap masterclass in Monaco.
Leclerc posted a time of 1 minute, 11.376 seconds on his first push lap in the pole shootout to sit atop the standings, and that time remained unbeaten amid a bizarre conclusion to the session.
Sergio Perez crashed through the Portier corner and Carlos Sainz slid into the wreckage, blocking the track, and bringing the session to a premature end. That secured pole for Leclerc, who was on a potentially faster lap ahead of the wreckage when the red flags were flown.
It also marked Leclerc’s fifth pole from seven attempts in 2022, bringing his career total to 14, leveling with Max Verstappen.
Despite the incident Sainz (1:11.601) was able to complete a 1-2 for Ferrari, with Perez (1:11.629) third, while last year’s Monaco winner Verstappen was a low-key fourth.
Leclerc famously claimed pole last year before crashing in the closing stages and sustaining damage that left him unable to start. He has yet to finish his home Grand Prix—a statistic he will strive to correct from the opportune starting position.
“The first lap was good, obviously I waited for Q3 to start and push, and then it was a really good lap,” Leclerc said. “The one I’m particularly happy about was the second lap in Q3, which I didn’t get to finish, but this was really, really good.”
Sainz will make it an all-red front row on Sunday but was left to rue what might have been.
“Unfortunately, Q3 run one we had the two Mercedes in the middle of my fast lap, that they were doing a build-up lap and I was in my push lap, I found one in the middle of sector two, one middle of sector three, it was a bit scrappy and I was looking forward to the final showdown,” he said. “That’s where you keep that extra but and have that clean run but every year in Monaco it seems a tradition that someone crashes in front of me and you cannot complete the lap that is normally the most exciting around Monaco! It is what it is.”
Verstappen enters Sunday’s race six points clear of Leclerc but will start fourth, three spots behind his title rival.
“So far it has been a bit tricky for me the whole weekend,” he said. “I was on a good lap until I got to that corner and there was a bit of a traffic jam. It’s very unfortunate, I think we could have done better than fourth—not pole, Charles was too strong today, but would have been nice to be second. But that’s Monaco, you do one lap in Q3 and there’s always a risk of a red flag when everyone is trying to risk it all.”
McLaren’s Lando Norris will start best of the rest, in fifth, with Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton sixth and eighth respectively, either side of Alpine’s Fernando Alonso.
The weekend has so far been blessed by hot and sunny conditions but Sunday’s forecast is less French Riviera and more British summer.
Current forecasts indicate a “moderate chance of a thundery shower” and that it is likely to be unsettled throughout the day, with ambient temperature also significantly lower.
That would throw a curveball into the equation for teams and drivers while also ostensibly providing opportunities to those further down the grid.
Formula 1 drivers only have limited experience of the 2022-spec cars in wet weather—at Imola—while there hasn’t been any wet running in Monaco since 2016.
Monaco Grand Prix
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari
Sergio Perez, Red Bull
Max Verstappen, Red Bull
Lando Norris, McLaren
George Russell, Mercedes
Fernando Alonso, Alpine
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin
Esteban Ocon, Alpine
Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo
Kevin Magnussen, Haas
Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren
Mick Schumacher, Haas
Alex Albon, Williams
Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
Nicholas Latifi, Williams
Guanyo Zhou, Alfa Romeo