Ferrari's Charles Leclerc crashes but takes Monaco Grand Prix pole
- Charles Leclerc halted qualifying 18 seconds from the end after smashing into the barriers, having already set the fastest time.
Charles Leclerc won the first pole for Ferrari since 2019 despite crashing with 18 seconds remaining to end Saturday qualifying at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Leclerc held the top spot at his home track until his Ferrari grazed a barrier to break a suspension piece. He then hopped a curb and finally came to a stop crashed into another barrier to bring the qualifying session to an abrupt end.
Leclerc could forfeit the pole if the damage to his Ferrari is too great that he receives a grid penalty. If the gear box must be changed — which Leclerc feared — he'd lose five positions on the starting grid.
“I am worried about a penalty. I’ve always been very unlucky here, so let’s just wait and see,” said Leclerc. “It’s a shame to finish in the wall, it’s doesn’t feel the same but I’m incredibly happy about my lap.”
The red flag prevented world champion Lewis Hamilton and his title contender Max Verstappen from completing their final qualifying lap. Verstappen will start second for Red Bull; Hamilton seventh for Mercedes.
“That crash ruined the chance for pole,” Verstappen said. “Just a shame about the red flag.”
Leclerc, who grew up in Monaco and lives nearby, waved to his fans as a crane lifted his car off the track. He lap at 1 minute, 10.35 seconds on the 3.4-kilometer (2.1-mile) course gave him his eighth career pole. But it was his first since the Mexican Grand Prix in October, 2019, and a boost for Ferrari after the team struggled all last year.
Leclerc will try to become Monaco’s first local winner since Louis Chiron in 1931.
Valtteri Bottas qualified third behind Verstappen. Then Carlos Sainz Jr. completed a great day for the Italian manufacturer by qualifying fourth in his Ferrari.
Lando Norris of McLaren was fifth and followed by AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly.
Leclerc made an odd mistake when his rear front left tire locked and he hit a barrier. It made no immediate difference to his position on the grid, but the red flag ended the session and cost everyone behind him a shot at moving up on the starting grid.
Hamilton holds a 14-point lead over Verstappen after four races, but Verstappen has a great chance to narrow the gap at a Monaco track which notoriously difficult for overtaking.