What the teams said – Qualifying in Monaco
To say there were mixed fortunes at Red Bull is a bit of an understatement. Perez crashed in Q1, carrying too much speed into the first corner and hitting the barriers hard. That ended his session, relegated him to P20 on the grid and worse might follow, with a pit lane start a possibility if he needs a new gearbox. But his team mate wasn’t to be stopped this year in Monaco. Under pressure on his final run in Q3, behind on the clock after a cautious first sector, Verstappen threw everything he had at the lap and made up three tenths in the final sector to grab his first pole at this track.
Max Verstappen, 1st, 1:11.365
“We knew it was going to be a bit of a struggle this weekend, but everything came together in the end. Yesterday wasn’t the best start but I think we kept on improving and getting better. My final lap today wasn’t ideal, I gave it everything I had and risked it all in the third sector, as I knew I was behind. I clipped a few barriers but I’m happy to be on pole here for the first time. Tomorrow we need a clean start, it’s a short run to Turn 1 and in Monaco a lot of things can happen. Race-pace wise the car is quick so hopefully we can have a positive day.”
Sergio Perez, 20th, 1:13.850
“I am really disappointed with myself today. It was going well; I was happy with the balance and in Q1 naturally you are progressing and finding new limits. Going into the corner I just lost the rear-end quite late, which caught me out and I had nowhere to go, I could not cut the corner or get out of the corner. Unfortunately, that meant I ended up touching the wall and I cannot believe what I have done. This mistake is too difficult to digest right now, I don’t know what to say, I am just sorry for my team, they don’t deserve this.
“We will assess the car and see how the damage is, then we can make some decisions ahead of the race. We would have been in the mix for sure today, so it is doubly disappointing, it was a big opportunity for us. It’s a big hit in the championship for me and I have probably lost a lot of points. If it’s a normal race it will be hard to do anything tomorrow, I have a fast car but it’s nearly impossible to pass here with these wide cars, it is going to be tricky to make progress, but we will try everything.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“That was one of the most exciting laps Max has ever driven in quali, what a performance. On the last lap, when he arrived at the Swimming Pool he was 0.2 of a second behind Fernando and then in that last sector he hit the wall twice but his momentum carried him through, he was gaining time and then he did it, he took pole. An unreal drive. Sadly for Checo, he didn’t get the opportunity to show what he can do around here. A mistake too early in Q1 put an end to his qualifying campaign. It was a shame but we are looking forward to what tomorrow brings. Both drivers will be hungry to make the most of their respective positions on the grid, it will be a very exciting race.”
Alonso had looked strong from the off this weekend, so it was no surprise to see him challenging for pole. He even went so far as to grab provisional pole in Q3, and as the chequered flag fell, only Verstappen was on a lap and could dethrone him. The Dutchman duly delivered, but P2 is still a strong starting slot at a track where grid position matters more than ever. As for Stroll, he made a mistake into Rascasse on his last effort in Q2 to fall by the wayside. The Canadian was also sent to the stewards for missing the weighbridge in qualifying, but the panel took no further action.
Fernando Alonso, 2nd, 1:11.449
“We have to be happy with this result. This year, we’ve tended to perform better on Sundays – but starting from the first row in Monaco is a really positive achievement. Job done today. It was a great final run, but when the team told me I was in P1, I already knew there was a chance I’d get bumped to second. I pushed the limits to uncomfortable levels – I risked a lot today. Our pace in the final sector is a bit of a weak spot, so we need to take a look at that for future races. Tomorrow, I’m aiming to finish the race and take the maximum possible points. If it’s a straightforward afternoon, we’ll hopefully finish on the podium; any more opportunities and we’ll be there to take them.”
Lance Stroll, 14th, 1:12.623
“A frustrating qualifying session – the potential was definitely there: in Q1, I finished fifth and I was feeling good in the car. Then things went downhill in Q2: I didn’t get my tyres prepared properly on my out-lap, then I got caught at the weighbridge, there was traffic, and then I lost a few tenths at Turn 18 on my final run. When the margins are so tight, those things just compound the situation. Tomorrow is another day, we’ll roll the dice with the strategy – either going long or pitting early and undercutting people. Hopefully, a bit of rain will mix things up, let’s see.”
Mike Krack, Team Principal
“This was an intense session for the whole team. Fernando drove superbly; he nailed his final lap and will line up on the front row for tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix. That’s an incredible achievement for the whole team and we can be proud of that. Lance had the pace to graduate into Q3. But a combination of factors – traffic, debris on the track, a delay at the weighbridge – meant he didn’t get a clean Q2. In particular, he ran over a large piece of debris at the exit of Tabac, which damaged his floor and affected grip in the final sector. The aim for tomorrow is to score the maximum points with both drivers.”
Leclerc struggled once again in FP3 with the feel of his car, but he made some set up changes and they seemed to pay off in qualifying. He made it through to Q3 relatively comfortably, whereas Sainz needed a last gasp effort in Q1 to escape the drop zone. Once in the top 10 shootout, neither driver had an answer to the pace of either the Red Bull nor Aston Martin, and worse was to come when Leclerc was called to the stewards for impeding Norris in the tunnel. He ultimately got hit with a three-place grid penalty, dropping him to sixth position.
Charles Leclerc, 3rd, 1:11.471
“It was a very tricky qualifying on a weekend where I have struggled quite a lot with the car. I think our SF-23 is not handling the bumps so well but in qualifying it was a bit more alive and we managed to secure P3, very close to the pole position time. A qualifying lap here is like nowhere else on the calendar and it feels really good to drive. So all in all I can be happy but I would of course have preferred to be first. For tomorrow, I need a bit more luck than in the past years here. The forecast says there is a chance of rain and if that is the case anything is possible. I will go for it anyway and then we will see where we end up.”
Carlos Sainz, 5th, 1:11.630
“Honestly, I’m not happy with how things ended in Q3. Having to pass three slow cars during the last push lap is far from ideal especially when things were so tight. I’m disappointed because the weekend had been quite positive up to this point. Anyway, we still have a chance to do well in the race tomorrow, so we’ll aim to use our good pace and the strategy to try and make up some places.”
Fred Vasseur, Team Principal
“Of course, it’s a bit frustrating to find yourself P3 just one tenth of a second off pole and two hundredths off the front row. Today it was quite difficult to give the drivers a car they were comfortable with, which at Monaco is always key, since being quick on this track is a matter of having the right feeling with the car, avoiding the walls and gradually picking up the pace over the weekend. We were able to improve the car after FP3 for qualifying and in the end the result is not that bad as we are the only team with two cars in the top five. That means we can look at how we can play with the strategy with our two drivers to move up the order in the race, given that it’s almost impossible to overtake. Now we will look at the data and prepare for tomorrow, bearing in mind that the weather could also play its part.”
Alpine had a quiet Friday, but came alive in qualifying. Both drivers sailed all the way to Q3, and once there looked right in the hunt. In the end Gasly had to settle for a still credible seventh, but Ocon put down one of his best ever qualifying laps to grab fourth on the grid, ahead of a Ferrari and both Mercedes cars. He hit the barriers on his way round, leaving nothing on the table in a brilliant display of brave driving.
Esteban Ocon, 4th, 1:11.553
“What a day! First of all, a big well done to the entire team, both at the track and at the factories in Enstone and Viry. Our result really shows that hard work pays off. I felt comfortable right from the beginning in qualifying and I gave it my all on that last lap. Starting in fourth place on the grid in Monaco is great spot to be in and while I’m very happy now, we know we cannot settle for that as there’s a long way to go this weekend. We worked incredibly hard to get ourselves in this position so we will stay focused to bring home some good points for the team. Bring on tomorrow’s race.”
Pierre Gasly, 7th, 1:11.933
“That was a very intense qualifying and it’s good that we’ve come away with a great outcome for the team. I’m relatively satisfied with seventh but there was definitely more on my side so I do have bittersweet feelings in that regard. The car felt strong and we were obviously up there and competitive, with Esteban doing a really good job to be in fourth place. I just didn’t quite get it together in Q3 with some rear sliding on my push lap. Even so, to start seventh in Monaco puts us in a very good place for tomorrow’s race where we must aim for a big haul of points from both cars.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director
“We are very pleased with today’s qualifying in Monaco with Esteban claiming a very impressive fourth position – third on the grid with Charles’ penalty – and Pierre in seventh. The car has looked strong all weekend – comfortably inside the top 10 – and today was all about good communication between drivers and engineers, clean execution from the team and staying composed amongst three very busy and intense sessions.
“It’s always a great feeling to be in the mix for pole position, with Esteban running on a quiet track to go into provisional pole with an outstanding lap. Pierre also did a good job and we’ll look into what could have gone better on his side in Q3. Still, there is a long way to go this weekend. We know it’s a tough race around this track and we must be ready to seize any opportunities ahead of us. And with such good grid positions, we have to target big points from both drivers.”
Hamilton crashed at the end of FP3, making an uncharacteristically sloppy mistake. Luckily he only damaged his front wing and was able to take part in qualifying. Thanks to the red flags in Q1, both Mercedes drivers had to use two sets of tyres and thus were left slightly short on fresh rubber later on in the session. While both made Q3, their raft of new upgrades couldn’t propel them into the front rows.
Lewis Hamilton, 6th, 1:11.725
“The car was feeling good throughout yesterday, particularly in FP1. We then worked overnight and made some changes after FP3 to refine the set-up. It improved the car in the middle of the lap, but it wasn’t good in the first and last sectors. It was tough today therefore and difficult to progress from Q1 and Q2, but we just managed it. Given that, I was happy with my final lap, and I think that’s as good as we could have managed. I’m also hopeful that the set-up we have will work well for the race. I love being on this circuit and the challenge is immense. It’s very difficult to overtake but we’ll work as a team to make sure we’re prepared to capitalise on any opportunities that present themselves tomorrow. I’m grateful for where we are, and I’ll keep pushing.”
George Russell, 8th, 1:11.964
“We didn’t strike the right balance with the car today. We were often strong in sector one but from there, the lap just went away from us. We also seemed to struggle more as qualifying progressed. In Q3, that was more down to my part as I didn’t get it together. Naturally we’re disappointed as there were moments where we looked quick, but I think the maximum wasn’t much more than what we got today. It’s going to be a long Grand Prix tomorrow. Monaco is a unique circuit and historically as a team, it’s not always suited our car or been our best race. We also know you’re likely to finish where you start, but we will be doing everything we can to move forward.”
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“We know starting fifth and eighth for tomorrow’s race makes it a challenging Grand Prix for us. Overtaking is notoriously difficult here, but we will be doing everything we can to move forward. Despite our starting positions, we can be motivated by the size of the gap to the front. If you had told me ahead of the weekend that we would be three-tenths off pole position, I would have taken it. We also didn’t execute our final laps in qualifying as well as we could have so there was possibly a little more lap time to be found.
“After FP3, we went slightly more aggressive on the set-up. If we had been more conservative, we may have found a better balance with the car. Nevertheless, we’re hopeful those changes will stand us in good stead for tomorrow. It’s been a big team effort to get our update to track. The hard work and dedication of everyone at Brackley and Brixworth is inspiring and we’re looking forward to racing it tomorrow.”
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
“It’s not ideal to be lining up fifth and eighth, but we were having to work hard to get the tyre temperatures in the right window to start the lap. That was particularly difficult in Q1 and Q2 as it was impossible to get a clean out-lap due to traffic. Ultimately, that meant Lewis had to use an extra set of soft tyres in Q2, that we were aiming to save for Q3. George had a slightly more comfortable journey through the first two sessions, but the grip just wasn’t there when it mattered for his final two runs. It’s never easy to move forward in the Grand Prix here but we’ll be working through the scenarios tonight. It’s often an unpredictable race and it looks like it might be tough on the tyres. We’ll make sure we do everything we can to be ready to capitalise on any opportunities that come our way tomorrow.”
It was a good qualifying display for both AlphaTauri drivers in Monaco. De Vries managed his best ever qualifying with 12th, and can count himself unlucky that he needed to use three sets of tyres in Q1 instead of two thanks to the red flag interruption. Had he had more sets of new tyres, he may have challenged for Q3. As it was, Tsunoda did make it through for his first top 10 start in Monaco.
Nyck de Vries, 12th, 1:12.428
“It was a challenging session, and we knew already before going into Q1 that it would be messy because of traffic. Of course, we always want more, but it has been a solid weekend so far. If we repeat the good work we have executed so far in tomorrow’s race, we can be satisfied with ourselves and the weekend in general. The track evolution is big here and you could see the track was only coming alive during qualifying when it counts, and the team did a good job of constantly improving with the changing circumstances. I have raced here previously, but it’s another level in a Formula 1 car, and I am excited for tomorrow!”
Yuki Tsunoda, 9th, 1:12.082
“A big congratulations to the team. We struggled a lot yesterday during both practice sessions but made a big step forward overnight. I felt a positive change in FP3 straight away and we were able to find extra performance on top of it for qualifying. The massive work done by the mechanics and engineers showed; I felt confident immediately, especially during the last run in Q1. From then on, I enjoyed it a lot. It was my first Q3 appearance in Monaco and it was definitely special. I am happy with my performance, which allows us to start the race in the points position, so I will give it my all and extract everything possible to be able to score points tomorrow.”
Jody Egginton, Technical Director
“We are very happy with our qualifying today. Both drivers did a great job, the car behaved well, and the update we had planned for Imola that we introduced here – although it’s hard to say a lot about it – seems to be behaving well and we can say it’s close to our expectations. As for tomorrow, with Yuki and Nyck qualifying ahead of our main competitors, it’s a good start for the race and hopefully, we can maintain our positions and score points.”
McLaren were down the order in FP3, but looked much more on it come qualifying. Both made it into Q2 comfortably, but Piastri just missed out on the top 10 by the smallest of margins. Norris did make the top 10 but nearly didn’t run again after damaging his front suspension on his final lap in Q2, and hitting the wall as a result. The team did an incredible job to get him back out in Q3, but he wasn’t able to improve on his last flying run after being baulked by Leclerc.
Lando Norris, 10th, 1:12.254
“Disappointing qualifying for two reasons. One through my own fault, hitting the wall, I messed up on my side. The mechanics did a mega job to put everything back together, so a big thank you to them. Unfortunately, we then just got blocked completely in my fastest lap in Q3, which wasn’t our fault. It was a bit up and down, and sadly not the result we wanted. We probably wouldn’t have achieved a lot more, but maybe a P8 was possible, which around Monaco means a lot. Frustrating, but we did many things well, so we’ll hang on and try to get some good points tomorrow.”
Oscar Piastri, 11th, 1:12.395
“P11. Shame to have missed out on Q3 by so little but, happy with the improvement I made. We struggled through the practice sessions, so to get so close to Q3 in quali, I’m quite happy with. Only one spot out of the top ten and anything can happen tomorrow. We’ll work hard this evening and see what we can do to work our way in to the points tomorrow.”
Andrea Stella, Team Principal
“Our qualifying session was intense and eventful, like most of the times we go racing in Monaco. We’re starting the Monaco Grand Prix in P10 and P11 and go into the race hoping to make progress with both cars. Oscar made a really good step from his practice performance, progressed through Q1 comfortably, and was only a fraction away from Q3. Lando’s session was disrupted by a contact with the barriers in Q2, after which his mechanics did a fantastic job to repair the car in time for a run at the end of Q3. Unfortunately, he hit traffic during his fastest lap and couldn’t improve his time. That’s a little disappointing but regardless, we’re in a decent position to score points and will be working hard this evening to ensure we can maximise our chances.”
Albon was another driver who looked capable of a top-10 slot but, like his AlphaTauri rivals, he needed three sets of tyres to escape Q1 and so ran out of rubber in Q2. Sargeant couldn’t make it that far, exiting at the first time of asking on his Monaco debut.
Logan Sargeant, 16th, 1:13.113
“It’s my first time driving an F1 car in Monaco this weekend and I’ve loved every bit of it so far. Every lap on this track keeps you on your toes. The build-up has been great; tomorrow is going to be a long day but we’ll make the most of it. This afternoon in qualifying was probably the most relaxed I’ve been this weekend, I’ve been driving well in the free practices and I was happy with my qualifying lap; coming from the FP sessions, I didn’t think we would be as close as we were and I felt like I got everything out of it.
“Alex’s [Q1] lap was pretty impressive, I’ll have to see what he did! We got the car in a good window. There were a few bits that could have been better, but it’s tough to accommodate for all the different types of corners here. Starting 16th isn’t ideal around here but I want to execute a full, clean weekend, so if I can go out tomorrow and have good race pace then that would be a nice way to round out the weekend and then move on to Barcelona which is a track that I love.”
Alex Albon, 13th, 1:12.527
“It was a good day today; we were on the back foot all weekend but, with this track, we knew it was going to be difficult and the weaknesses in our car were going to be challenging around this circuit. We made a lot of changes from FP3 to qualifying and they worked, so that’s always a positive thing. These changes made the car much more drivable for qualifying but we did use three sets of tyres in Q1 to get through. I was happy with my lap but I lost too much time in the traffic whilst the tyres warmed up so, despite this, I feel like our car was better than the results today. Let’s hope for some rain tomorrow.”
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
“Qualifying in Monaco is always a difficult session, but we coped with the situation reasonably well. Both drivers had solid FP3 sessions and went into Q1 knowing that it would be tight, but aware that a good lap could see them into Q2. Logan did an excellent job but fell agonisingly short of the cut-off. Alex, meanwhile, had some newly found confidence in the car following some set-up work after FP3, and was able to comfortably make Q2. If we had got everything right with Alex and given him a completely clean out-lap, then he could’ve been very close to a place in Q3. The race will be tough tomorrow with overtaking still extremely difficult here. However, with both drivers comfortable with their cars then we will be looking to make progress.”
Bottas had flirted with the top 10 in practice, but both Alfa Romeo cars just ran out of pace as others turned up their engines. Zhou exited at the first time of asking after mistiming his last run and not being on a hot lap when the track was improving, and then Bottas couldn’t make much of an impression in Q2.
Valtteri Bottas, 15th, 1:12.625
“We looked capable to get into Q3, and with a clean lap we could have been in the top ten, but I found traffic in the final sector on my last run and that cost us dearly. I lost a couple of tenths, probably, and this was enough to knock us out and put us 15th – with these tight margins, we can’t afford to lose that much. Overtaking won’t be easy tomorrow, and it can be a long day at the back, but we will try our best. We can also take some positives: we did better this weekend, until qualifying; the car feels improved so we can hopefully build on this for the future.”
Zhou Guanyu, 19th, 1:13.523
“Our performance in FP3 had made me confident in a place in Q2, and I believed with a small improvement we could even get to Q3. However, it turned out to be a tricky afternoon: the good feeling I had in the first run of Q1 disappeared and, as the track improved, I couldn’t find any extra grip. I was sliding around too much and, although I improved in my final run, this wasn’t enough in such a competitive field. Starting from the back will make our job very difficult tomorrow, but we owe it to the work of everyone in the team, and to our fans, to go out there and give everything in the race.”
Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative
“We had looked solid during practice, with both drivers arguably in with a shout for at least Q2, and to qualify in the positions we did shows just how tight the field is. We couldn’t replicate the performance from earlier in the weekend, and we’re aware of how difficult our task will be tomorrow. Still, the race will be long and can be unpredictable: we will need to be sharp and execute every part of it well, ready to pounce on every opportunity that may arise. It’s important we keep our heads up: today may have been difficult, but we have made another step forward and there are positives on which we can build for the next rounds.”
Magnussen had a tricky FP3, running straight on at Sainte Devote before completing a very slow three-point turn. The reason for the time it took for him to return to the track was soon apparent as he ground to a halt moments later with a hydraulics issue. The team were able to fix that and get him out for qualifying, but neither car had the pace to make it out of Q1.
Nico Hulkenberg, 18th, 1:13.279
“A disappointing qualifying as we all know how important it is in Monaco. We had the option of two runs after the red flag which would mean using three sets of new tyres or, as planned, two runs of fast- slow-fast. We opted for the latter thinking that would’ve been enough. Other people went out immediately after the restart of the session and stayed out, but for us the tyre is really only the best in the first lap. I also thought we were a bit faster than it turned out in the end and we would be into Q2, but ultimately, we were missing pace.”
Kevin Magnussen, 17th, 1:13.270
“All week we thought we were a little better than this. We opted to do two push laps on the second set of tyres in Q1 and everyone else did three and improved a lot. The team did a fantastic job to get the car ready after the issues in FP3, they always do, so I was confident we’d get running but I was also confident we could maybe even challenge for Q3, so I got that wrong. We’ll see, hopefully the weather will play its part and we’ll have a fun race.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“It’s not where you want to start in Monaco, but in the end, we need to look into why we ended up where we ended up. Now we have to deal with the situation and that’s trying to find the best place for tomorrow to be in, should something happen. We need to keep our heads up as there are still some chances that somewhere, some mayhem happens.”
Mario Isola, Motorsport Director
“We witnessed one of the most spectacular and unpredictable qualifying sessions in the recent history of Formula 1 today in Monte Carlo, which was closely fought from the first to the last minute. We already saw yesterday that the gaps on this track would be very small, and this was confirmed again this afternoon. In Q1, the top 15 riders were within 0.652s, while in Q2 there was a 0.469s gap between first and 10th. In Q3, we had the top four drivers, with four different teams, separated by 0.188s. Congratulations to all the drivers on track today, who put on a great show at the absolute limit.
“From a technical point of view, we confirmed the versatility of the soft compound, which made it possible to do several flying laps with cool-down laps in between. The track evolved significantly throughout the day and during each session, which added even more uncertainty. Usually one of the highlights of the Monaco Grand Prix is Saturday but after today we can’t wait to find out what comes next. We don’t expect many strategic surprises: a single stop is the way to go, with the hard tyre as the main choice. However, which tyre to start the race on is more uncertain: the soft tyre certainly offers more grip at the start, but the medium has a wider window of use, with a better chance to make the most of any Safety Cars.”