F1 2021 Monaco GP Qualifying Report: Leclerc starts Home race from Pole!

Formula 1 in 2021 has been a breath of fresh air after two years of Mercedes being miles clear of the chasing pack. Red Bull have emerged as a genuine challenger for both titles. However, they would need to convert their raw pace into a second win of the season in Monaco to keep within striking distance of the Black Arrows.

Ferrari too were in contention, the Scuderia managing a 1-2 in FP2 on Thursday and could McLaren pull of a surprise in their beautiful one-off Gulf livery?

Here are all the highlights from qualifying!

Q1

Williams was celebrating their 750th Grand Prix this weekend and were eager to get out on track, George Russell being at the front of the queue at the start of Q1. The drivers were setting multiple laps as the tyres took time to heat up.

Valtteri Bottas was the first man into the 1:11’s but his time at the top didn’t last long, Verstappen quickly usurping him. Bottas would take his P1 spot back, but Lando Norris (P4) and Charles Leclerc (P2) set extremely competitive times.

A flurry of times were set just before and after the chequered flag fell as drivers desperately wanted to avoid starting in the bottom five spots tomorrow.

Alonso failed to get into Q2 for the first time since 2018.

Yuki Tsunoda (P16) has never raced around Monaco before and it showed, the AlphaTauri driver failing to get out of Q1 again. Fernando Alonso (P17) couldn’t shake off his rustiness off around the streets of Monte Carlo. Nicholas Latifi could only manage P18, with Nikita Mazepin the last of the qualifying runners in P19.

Mick Schumacher was unable to compete in Qualifying thanks to a huge shunt in FP3, he lines up at the back of the grid in P20.

Q2

After the first runs in second qualifying, it was surprisingly Ferrari that topped the times. Leclerc set the team’s opening gambit, but it was Carlos Sainz who went almost a quarter of a second faster. McLaren’s Norris would slot in P2, but a charging bull would soon best them all.

Max Verstappen was rapid in Q2.

Verstappen set a 1:10.650 to top the standings, one of the fastest laps of Monaco ever and it wasn’t even final qualifying! Mercedes was looking vulnerable, Bottas ending Q2 in fourth and Sir Lewis Hamilton down in sixth. It was Leclerc who ended up P1 though, as the hometown racer set an even faster time!

Alfa Romeo were another team that were showing more pace than normal around Monaco, but Q2 was as far as Kimi Raikkonen would go. The 2007 champ lines up P14 tomorrow, but Antonio Giovinazzi got through to the top ten.

Russell couldn’t repeat his incredible qualifying performances in Monaco, he lines up P15. Lance Stroll (P13) and Esteban Ocon (P11) were also out. The surprise driver out in Q2 was Daniel Ricciardo (P12), the Honey badger again struggling in his McLaren.

Q3

This was it. Q3 in Monaco is when you’ll see the fastest cars on earth pushed to their absolute limits more than anywhere else in the world.

Verstappen set the opening gambit of a 1:10.5, the fastest time we’d seen up until that point. Bottas got close but Leclerc would beat it by over two tenths! Sainz went third, but Hamilton could only manage sixth, behind even Pierre Gasly.

Leclerc was hunting Ferrari’s first pole in Monaco since Raikkonen in 2017, this would be a huge shock if he could manage it.

All of the drivers were pushing as hard possible, and Leclerc crashed at the swimming pool to end any hope of anybody else challenging him for pole. There will be concerns over Leclerc’s gearbox, but for the moment, as it stands, Leclerc is on pole for tomorrow’s race.

Verstappen lines up P2 at the moment and will be on pole if Leclerc suffers a gearbox penalty. Bottas did a good job to qualify P3, with Sainz completing an excellent day for Ferrari in P4. Norris was the highest performing McLaren in fifth.

Gasly signalled a return to form in his AlphaTauri, he’s sixth, with Sir Lewis Hamilton a very disappointing seventh. Sebastian Vettel had his best qualifying of the year with eighth, but Sergio Perez will be crestfallen to line up ninth. Giovinazzi completed the top ten.

Full Classification

Pos.No.DriverConstructorGap
116Charles LeclercFerrari1:10.346
233Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing+0.230
377Valtteri BottasMercedes+0.255
455Carlos SainzFerrari+0.265
54Lando NorrisMcLaren+0.274
610Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri+0.554
744Lewis HamiltonMercedes+0.749
85Sebastian VettelAston Martin+1.073
911Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing+1.227
1099Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo+1.433
1131Esteban OconAlpine1:11.486 (Q2)
123Daniel RicciardoMcLaren+0.112
1318Lance StrollAston Martin+0.114
147Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo+0.156
1563George RussellWilliams+0.344
1622Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri1:12.096 (Q1)
1714Fernando AlonsoAlpine+0.109
186Nicholas LatifiWilliams+0.270
199Nikita MazepinHaas+0.862
2047Mick SchumacherHaasNo time

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