Leclerc takes majestic pole on home turf in Monaco as bizarre Sainz-Perez crash brings early end to qualifying
Charles Leclerc put in a dominant display at home to take pole position for the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix, his sensational lap keeping team mate Carlos Sainz at bay by 0.225s on Saturday – a red flag stopping proceedings early...
This all-important qualifying session, given how essential a front-row start is at Monaco, 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.
The Q3 red flag was caused by Perez’s spin just before the tunnel section, Sainz then collecting Perez having seen the yellow flag too late.
FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX DE MONACO 2022
|1 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari||1:11.376|
|2 Carlos Sainz SAI Ferrari||1:11.601|
|3 Sergio Perez PER Red Bull Racing||1:11.629|
|4 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing||1:11.666|
|5 Lando Norris NOR McLaren||1:11.849|
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.
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.
AS IT HAPPENED
Q1 – Leclerc leads Sainz before late scramble
Not only was the marina brimming with boats, the Circuit de Monaco was chock-full of traffic for Q1 on Saturday afternoon, 20 drivers eager to make their mark in this essential session to set the grid for Sunday.
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.
Vettel rounded out the top 10 for Aston Martin ahead of McLaren’s Ricciardo, while Alonso was 12th for Alpine. Failing to make it round for another lap, Hamilton finished 13th ahead of Haas’s Schumacher, who just made it out of the drop zone.
Bottas crept through in P15 to eliminate 16th-place Williams driver Albon by 0.07s, AlphaTauri’s unfortunate Gasly losing out (his previous flying effort curtailed by the red flag) in P17. A furious Lance Stroll ended up 18th at Aston Martin.
The other Williams of Latifi ended up 19th while a baffled Zhou couldn’t make it round the track for another go and finished 20th.
Knocked out: Albon, Gasly, Stroll, Latifi, Zhou
Q2 – Leclerc and Perez go top as Verstappen plays catch-up
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.
Vettel’s last-gasp effort saw him jump to eighth and Russell finished ninth – with Alonso making it through to Q3 in P10, as Tsunoda lost out by a tenth of a second. Bottas couldn’t make it out of Q2 in P12, Magnussen dropping to P13, while Ricciardo eliminated in 14th. Schumacher settled for a provisional P15 on the grid.
Knocked out: Tsunoda, Bottas, Magnussen, Ricciardo, Schumacher
Q3 – Leclerc secures pole before calamity strikes
“This one’s going to be box office,” said Christian Horner before the top-10 face off – but which of these hot shots would emerge as the top gun in Q3?
Leclerc led the pack into the sunshine and posted a brilliant benchmark of 1m 11.376s, Sainz facing a gulf of 0.225s in P2. Perez was only three-hundredths behind Sainz in third, Verstappen another four-hundredths behind in P4. There was still time for one of them to eclipse Leclerc, track temperatures now dropping.
The Monegasque driver wasn’t happy with his positioning on the next preparation lap, yet he aced the first sector and was on course to eclipse his pole time.
Then, another red flag: Perez had crashed just before the tunnel, Sainz collecting him having seen the preceding yellow flag too late, to essentially finish the session. The grid was set: it would be Leclerc in pole, Sainz second, Perez third and Verstappen – his disappointment clear when he climbed out of the RB18 – a provisional fourth on the grid.
Norris rounded out the top five ahead of Russell, with Alonso – bumping the barriers in an attempt to slow for the late red flag – and Hamilton to share row four in P7 and P8 respectively. Behind them was Aston Martin’s Vettel in P9, and the other Alpine of Ocon in 10th.
With pole position and his wingman Sainz set to share the front row, can Leclerc ace his home race on Sunday, and see the chequered flag for the first time in his career in Monaco?
The key quote
"It is very special. I’m so incredibly happy. It’s been a very smooth weekend until now; I knew the pace was in the car I just had to do the job and it went perfectly. That last lap before the red flag was very very good. But anyway, it didn’t change anything for us" – Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
Leclerc is set to lead when the lights go out for the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix at 1500 local time. Head to the RACE HUB for more information on how you can catch all the action.