Lewis Hamilton sets a new track record around the streets of Monaco as he claims pole position whilst local driver Charles Leclerc dramatically got knocked out of Qualifying 1.
Hamilton’s 1:10.166 surpassed last year’s pole sitter Daniel Ricciardo‘s time to become the new absolute track record as he headlines a Mercedes AMG Motorsport front row for the Monaco Grand Prix. Valtteri Bottas hold provisional pole at the early stages of qualifying before his team-mate surpassed his time.
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing‘s Max Verstappen kept pace with the Mercedes throughout the session but could only manage third best alongside Scuderia Ferrari‘s Sebastian Vettel. The German driver managed to get out for qualifying after crashing out in Free Practice 3, but struggled to find a rhythm in the session, making contact with the wall multiple times.
Ferrari’s shock came when Monaco-born Leclerc was knocked out in the first session, after Vettel improved on his time to get out of the knockout zone. The Monegasque driver returned to the pits towards the end of the session, but Ferrari decide to not return to the track, proving to be a costly decision as they were left with one Ferrari out in qualifying.
Qualifying 1 began with Williams Racing‘s George Russell placing the first lap time in the session, but soon majority of the field leaped ahead of the Brit in their first runs.
Leclerc, who was fastest in FP3, was the first out of the front runners to set a lap, banking in a 1:12.825 in his first run. The two Red Bull’s surpassed the local driver with Verstappen and Gasly going on top before the two Mercedes cars split them both.
Everyone found improvement in their later runs in the early stages of qualifying, but it was Verstappen who was setting the early pace. Vettel who missed out on majority of the FP3 running due to his crash at Sainte Devote, broke into the top ten at the half way stage of the 16 minute session. Bottas improved his time and went fastest, passing Verstappen with five minutes remaining.
During his lap at the later stage of qualifying, Vettel kissed the barrier at the Swimming Pool section and dived into the pits with a handful of minutes remaining. The German dipped into the bottom five of qualifying and needs to make 0.088 seconds to get into the top 15. He managed to place one final time and went fastest overall, but sent his team-mate Leclerc out of Q1 who wasn’t sent out on track to set a final lap.
The Monegasque driver was eliminated in qualifying in front of his home crowd and will start the race in sixteenth place. He joins the Racing Point and Williams driver: Sergio Pérez, Lance Stroll, Russell and Robert Kubica who were knocked out in qualifying.
The second stage of qualifying began with Bottas smashing the absolute track record set by Ricciardo last year, placing a 1:10.701 to take first place in the session. Hamilton and Verstappen followed him behind in the top three. Vettel placed the ninth best time in his first attempt.
In the final runs of Q2, Verstappen improved and surpassed Bottas’ time, setting a 1:10.618 to go fastest overall. The two Red Bull Toro Rosso‘s of Daniil Kvyat and Alexander Albon managed to jump into top ten and secure a spot into Qualifying 3. Kevin Magnussen produced the fifth best time in the session, setting a strong time to get a pass for the final session.
Both Alfa Romeo Racing cars were in the bottom of the time sheets of Q2. Romain Grosjean tried to set one final lap, but was impeded by the Red Bull of Pierre Gasly and was left in 13th place. Lando Norris and Nico Hülkenberg couldn’t make it into the top ten and were knocked out of the session.
The final session began with Bottas setting the first time, a 1:10.252 to go fastest ahead of Vettel and Gasly. Verstappen went second fastest behind the Mercedes, falling short by 0.389 seconds. Hamilton couldn’t produce a time in his first run and attempted a second lap, placing the second best time of the session.
Vettel in his final lap of qualifying hit the barrier at Tabac corner, ruining his lap and left him in fourth place in the session. Hamilton managed to place one final lap and surpassed his team-mates time and claim pole position. His 1:10.166 becomes the new absolute track record and he leads a Mercedes front row alongside Bottas, with Verstappen and Vettel behind.
Gasly round off the top five alongside Rich Energy Haas F1‘s Magnussen. Renault’s Ricciardo was seventh best ahead of Kvyat, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Albon.
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