Monte Carlo, May 22 (IANS) Charles Leclerc of Ferrari crashed in the final minute of qualifying on Saturday but secured pole position for his Monaco home Grand Prix.
The Monegasque clocked 1 minute 10.346 seconds around the tight 3.337km street circuit of Monte Carlo before hitting the wall and bringing out the red flag which ended the session and denied others possibly bettering his time.
Max Verstappen of Red Bull finished 0.230 second behind in second. Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes completed the top three for Mercedes, while team-mate Lewis Hamilton struggled for pace and will be only seventh, reports DPA.
It was Ferrari’s and Leclerc’s first pole position since the Mexican Grand Prix in 2019.
“It’s a shame to finish in the wall, but at the same time, I’m crazy happy about my first lap,” Leclerc said.
“It’s a bit of a surprise for everyone [in the team] to be on pole, but I’ve always been very unlucky here, so let’s see,” Leclerc said.
He touched the inside barrier at the chicane, which sent him straight on into the wall.
It remains to be seen whether the gearbox was damaged and will need to be changed which would earn him a five-place grid penalty as gearboxes must be used for five consecutive events.
“We are worried, we are checking it — it is too early to tell,” Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said.
Such a scenario would leave Verstappen on pole on Sunday on a course where overtaking is all but impossible, and the Dutchman needs a win to boost his title hopes as he sits second in the drivers’ championship, 14 points behind leader Hamilton.
In the other Ferrari car, Carlos Sainz will start the race in fourth, followed by Lando Norris of McLaren in fifth and Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly in sixth, all ahead of Hamilton.