Monte Carlo (Monaco), May 28 (IANS) Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc came up with a dominant performance to take pole position for the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix, his sensational lap keeping teammate Carlos Sainz at bay by 0.225s on Saturday before a crash brought an early end to the proceedings.
With overtaking very difficult on the street circuit for the Monaco Grand Prix, starting from the front row is an advantage. Thus, the all-important qualifying session saw Leclerc top Q1, Q2 and Q3 on the way to take Ferrari’s 12th pole position in the Principality with a sensational time of 1m 11.376s.
The Monegasque was on course to improve — but a red flag at the end of Q3 saw the field essentially set, Perez taking third with a gap of 0.253s to Leclerc and Verstappen fourth by 0.290s. Leclerc had started the season on a strong note but was overtake by defending champion Max Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championships standings after the Spanish GP.
The Q3 red flag was caused by Perez’s spin just before the tunnel section, Sainz then running into Perez having seen the yellow flag too late.
Lando Norris rounded out the top five for McLaren, George Russell behind in P6 for Mercedes. Fernando Alonso (P7) and Lewis Hamilton (P8) share the fourth row, with Sebastian Vettel, ninth for Aston Martin, and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon rounding out the top 10.
Yuki Tsunoda caused a brief red flag in Q1 after clipping the barrier, but managed to emerge from the session. He ended up 11th on the provisional grid, ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas in P12. Neither Haas – Kevin Magnussen in P13 and Mick Schumacher P15 – could make it to Q3, with Daniel Ricciardo splitting them in 14th for McLaren, according to a report on the F1 website.
Tsunoda’s brush with the barriers at the chicane and resultant red flag saw Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu miss out on a final chance to set a flying lap and qualify 20th. Neither Williams – Alex Albon in P16 by just 0.07s in Q1 and Nicholas Latifi in P19 – made it to Q2.
Between those Williams were AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly in 17th – another who was caught out by the red flag – and a frustrated Lance Stroll in 18th for Aston Martin.
Rapid track evolution and drivers on different run plans saw the leaderboard shuffle dramatically, the likes of Perez and Alonso holding top spot early on – but Leclerc would soon set the pace with a lap of 1m 12.569s – Ferrari team mate Sainz 0.047s back in P2 with Russell another 0.15s off in P3.
With just over two minutes left, red flags paused the session, with Tsunoda having hit the barriers at the Nouvelle Chicane – but he managed to make it back to the pits. The pit lane queue confirmed that there would be a mad rush to set times when the session would resume, with Ricciardo, Ocon, Latifi, Tsunoda and Zhou in the provisional drop zone while Norris was on the edge in P15.
Neither Ferrari, Mercedes’ Russell, nor the Red Bulls (Verstappen eventually sixth and Perez seventh in Q1 — joined the post-red flag traffic, with Williams leading the train for a dramatic end to the session. This thrilling conclusion saw Ocon jump to fourth, Norris to fifth, while Tsunoda recovered to go ninth for AlphaTauri behind Haas’s Magnussen in P8.
The first laps in Q2 saw Leclerc lead with a time of 1m 11.864s, Perez 0.090s back in P2, while Sainz was third by 0.210s to his team mate and Verstappen nearly half a second back in P4.
In the provisional drop zone were Magnussen, Bottas, Tsunoda, Ricciardo and Schumacher, who had his opening time deleted for missing the Turn 10 apex. Vettel was at risk of elimination, just 0.010s ahead of Magnussen.
Verstappen improved but could only manage P4, 0.253s off Leclerc, while Norris rounded out the top five for McLaren. Ocon jumped to sixth, and Hamilton managed seventh despite backing out of two previous efforts.