The Saturday in F1 Monaco GP ended in a way where Charles Leclerc took pole after a late crash, with the field spread out behind the top half.
The Saturday in F1 Monaco GP saw a dramatic end with a crash for Red Bull’s Sergio Perez which also caught out Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz. The Mexican thought it to be a technical issue since he had a 20g force in a slow speed corner where he crashed.
Sainz noted that he saw the yellow flag and hit his brakes but it was too late by then. This incident aside, teammate Charles Leclerc took pole in a good show from the Monegasque, while Max Verstappen noted about his difficulties in qualifying.
Leclerc: “A bit everywhere. The first corner was quite a bit better. I got a snap… Basically, I got snaps everywhere but the lap time was coming really, really good. So yeah, I was surprised by how much pace there was, because the balance was really, really tricky on that lap, but yeah, it felt really good. The track conditions changed quite a bit, but I think we followed the track evolution very, very well. And the balance was actually pretty good all the time. So yeah, we followed the track evolution nicely. And then for the traffic, obviously, in Monaco, it’s always a very, very difficult, especially in qualifying, but I always found myself with fast cars behind me when I was on the out laps.
“And this is the worst situation you can find yourself in, because you obviously don’t want to get a penalty for being in the middle, so I was just trying to make the best job possible, but in some places, it’s very, very tricky, because you just have no place and you cannot push that much because the tyres are completely new, and you have no grip. So it was a very tricky situation I was in and I just wanted to make sure that the team understood that I didn’t want to be in that position again, because I was scared of getting a penalty, just being in the middle. But at the end, we managed it well. And I was out of trouble. For the race, there’s a bit of a chance of rain too. But yeah, that’s fine. We were strong in the rain in Imola, so whatever comes we’ll try to make the best out of it and finally have a good result at home.”
Sainz: “Perez crashed in front of me. And I was in my flying lap. I saw that yellow flag just coming into Turn 8, and I had to hit the brakes and obviously try to avoid him the best I could. But it’s a shame. Another year that red flag causes the end of our session that we cannot go for pole position, but it’s typical Monaco. Coming obviously from a blind corner that is Turn 7, you do Turn 7, you go full throttle, and as I was entering Turn 7 on my left hand side I see a yellow flag coming out. And immediately as I see a yellow flag, I realise that the car in front of me had crashed. You don’t see where he has crashed, so you enter the corner without knowing where he’s going to be. So I just hit the brakes.
“I tried to do the corner radius as tight as possible. And just as I was going to manage to avoid him, I hit the brake a bit harder and managed to clip his back with the back of the car. It would have been a pretty good save if I would have saved it, but because there was basically no time to save it, but it’s what happens in Monaco. The qualifying wasn’t bad. I think it was coming along nicely with qualifying. Unfortunately, in Q3 run one we had the two Mercedes in the middle of my first lap that they were doing a build-up and I was in my push and yeah, I found one Mercedes in the middle of Sector 2, the other one in Sector 3.
“Anyway, it was a bit of a scrappy first run at the beginning of Q3, but then I was looking forward to that final showdown here in Monaco. That is where you give that extra bit, and to have a clean run, but again, every year in Monaco now seems to be a tradition that someone crashes in front of me or whatever and you cannot complete the lap that is normally the most exciting lap around Monaco. Anyway, it is how it is. We start P2. I think it’s a great position to start and tomorrow anything can happen – the rain, whatever comes comes – and we’re in a good position.”
Perez: “There was a technical issue, apparently, because the g I got, was something like 20-g but it’s quite a low-speed section and there are TecPros there. Just a shame what happened, because I think we had more pace than that – but we just couldn’t challenge, I think, the strategy with the tyre, especially that final set: it wasn’t up to temperature, and it was just too peaky. I nearly lost it already into Turn 1. In hindsight, I think we didn’t get it right today. Basically, I was, I think, quite close to my time, trying to make it up. Turn 8 has been a difficult one for me, throughout the qualifying section.
“So I was trying to anticipate and get quite early on throttle. But as soon as I touched the throttle, I could feel like the rear tyre was not gripping in. And I was playing with it a bit, until I lost it. And then it was quite… I was actually surprised that Carlos hit me at the time. And it was just a shame, what happened? And I feel sorry for Carlos, and for the rest of the guys. But, you know, this is Monaco. Certainly, it looked bad from the rear. And what made it worse was the hit we got from Carlos. So, we have quite a bit of damage. But we’ll see. I think it should be okay for tomorrow.”
Verstappen: “In the end it wasn’t for pole, of course, but we were working towards a second place during the whole of qualifying. I had a different strategy for the last run compared to the others, because I just didn’t get enough temperature in the tyres for a single lap. And in the end I think it felt alright. During that second lap I was already a bit faster in the first sector and then turns five, six, seven were looking good as well. But then there were these two cars standing there, of course. That was a shame, but there’s nothing you can do about it now. That is also the chaos of Monaco. We tried a few things with the car in practice and not all of those things worked out well. Then we changed a few things for qualifying, which I think made it a bit better.
“I just didn’t have enough grip the whole time, at the front. And here in Monaco it is very important that the car turns very quickly and I didn’t have that. And then you just lose a lot of time. I was already a tenth quicker in the first sector and of course I was only six hundredths behind P2. And they were not improving. And during my first run I left a bit too much in turns five, six, seven, because of the cool tyres, and I was faster there too.
“So yes, that was a shame, but you can’t change that now. I didn’t have a good balance in the car, so then you can’t attack the corners. In the end, we adjusted the car for qualifying and then it was fine again. In that last run it was just much better. But he was also just feeling a bit more comfortable, he had the balance more how he wanted it. He can drive with a bit more understeer, he likes that. But for me the car has to be very strong at the front.”
Behind the Top 2 F1 teams, it was McLaren’s Lando Norris in the best of the rest position who fought through his illness to end up in Top 5 where he beat both the Mercedes drivers. George Russell was pleased with sixth, while Lewis Hamilton was not so in eighth.
It was a good show from Alpine’s Esteban Ocon to make it in the Top 10 after difficult qualifying, while Fernando Alonso thought Top 5 was possible but for a mistake. Also, making it in the Top 10 was Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton: “Today it felt better, but we seem to be slower, I don’t know really why. It felt like we improved the car in terms of bouncing but we were slower. We have poor rear downforce. Loads of front, but nothing on the rear. I kind of expected it, we weren’t very good in the low speed in the last race anyway. We actually were in the race, it was OK, but on a single lap, so anticipated it would be difficult here. I think it’s worse than we anticipated, because of the bumps. It’s super bouncy and bumpy for us everywhere, slow, medium and high. So, challenging.”
Russell: “That’s what we need in this situation – high risk, high reward. We have to go for it. If we lose out on a P5 or a P6, it’s not ideal, but it’s not the end of the world. We want to put it all on the line and go for the win. You often don’t say that from P6 in Monaco, but it looks like it is going to rain tomorrow. Look at it now – it’s grey and gloomy, it’s gone from the French Riviera being beautiful in sunshine and now it looks like we’re in London. So yeah, I’ll welcome a bit of rain.
“If you’d told me P6 before the weekend, I wouldn’t have been overly pleased. But I think my lap was really strong, probably one of the strongest laps I’ve done in qualifying all year. Obviously I’m a little bit disappointed the pace wasn’t a bit better. We know we didn’t bring anything new to the car this weekend, when we knew inherently it probably wouldn’t suit our car. You’ve got to take the positives, but we’re here for more.”
Norris: “I am, for sure. Yes, it’s tough because we’ve always kind of been in the gap between not slow or slow enough to be racing the other guys and not quite quick enough to be next to a Red Bull or Ferrari, which is a shame, but I tried. Honestly it wasn’t a perfect lap, but it was one which was good and the car’s been feeling very good all weekend, I’ve been comfortable in it and I’ve been able to have confidence to do the laps when I needed to and so on, so I’ve been happy. It’s just a shame that we just missed out that little bit extra to be competitive enough for the top two teams, but I’m very happy with P5 for today.
“I want to be optimistic that the people above us have problems, but you never know. I think the main thing again is that we just score some good points. It’s always hard to know what the expectations can be coming into Monaco – we knew slow-speed corners… they’re our weakness, but for some reason when we come to Monaco it always changes a bit, just because you have to change the philosophy of how to set up the car and things, and it goes in a little bit the opposite direction to what we expect. So I think we’d take P5. It’s still a long race tomorrow, and things can happen to us just as much as it happens to other people, so we’ll see.”
Alonso: “I made a mistake. The out-lap was not ideal so the brakes were cold already in Turn 1, Turn 3, Turn 4; I was thinking if I should keep pushing or not because I did not feel the car was right, or the preparation right. And then I was looking at the steering wheel and I braked too late for Turn 5, so it was a very stupid mistake. It hurts a little bit because I think there is more potential in the car, so it was my mistake today, I didn’t complete the lap, so maybe P5 was possible, and I made that mistake. Well, it’s going to rain apparently, so I think situation will change a lot so let’s see. I think nobody knows how we will perform in the rain here or how the grip will be so a lot of question marks, and a very stressful afternoon for everybody.”
Vettel: “Overall, we’re very happy. We got into Q3 and had a really good lap in Q2. In Q3, the first run was good so I think we are happy. To have the red flag at the end [caused by Sergio Perez, which forced him and others to abort the lap] – I don’t want to say it was kind of expected, but obviously highly likely here. If it’s a normal dry race, it’s good to be in the position we are in, as we’re starting in the points and then we will see. I think with tyres, it will be difficult to manage. We will see what type of race we will have in our hands tomorrow and have just got to make sure we are sharp. If it rains, [we have got] to make the right calls.”
Behind all this, the AlphaTauri pair were disappointed after Yuki Tsunoda had a wall brush, which caught out Pierre Gasly who looked set for a Top 10 result after a solid practice. Also missing out on Q2 was Alexander Albon, while Valtteri Bottas missed out in Q3.
Gasly: “Extremely disappointed. I can’t put words into how I am feeling right now, because the whole weekend was so good, P5 this morning, P6 yesterday. Every time I came out, I felt super good in the car, and I was just comfortable to put fast lap times in. I just don’t understand some of the choices we are making, and obviously there is a bit of bad luck in there. It’s a mix of different circumstances, but at the end of the day, it was the same session for everyone. We decided to do only two laps, when I finished my second lap, I’m P4, P5, it was good, obviously everybody stayed on track and then we decided to come in, and then after there is a red flag, come out of the pit lane too late, and we are the first one to, Yuki passed for one second, and I think I missed it for two seconds.
“Basically, didn’t have any representative lap time, and our mistakes are costing us massively, and unfortunately, weekend after weekend, it starts to be… very disappointed for everyone in the team. It was too close. There were many cars ahead of us. Yuki was ahead of me, behind another car, and Yuki passed for one second and I tried to go as close as I could without being right on his gearbox, and we missed it. There are a lot of things we need to review. I think the conclusion is we’re not doing a good enough job at the moment. We have a car to finish and qualify P5, P6, I just don’t understand how we end up in this position. We just need to do a better job. I’m so disappointed.
Tsunoda: “I’m disappointed with today. I touched the barriers in Q1 and damaged the front left of the car. The red flag allowed us to get back to the garage, however there was still some damage on the car and that impacted my performance I believe. Unfortunately, this also compromised Pierre’s Quali and he was unable to get through Q1 – it’s a real shame as I think both cars had the potential to be in Q3 today. I think our best chances of scoring points tomorrow with both cars is to have a wet race, so let’s see what happens.”
Bottas: “We did not expect to miss out on Q3, but we turned out to be not as competitive as we expected. Despite missing a session yesterday, I feel I managed to get into a good rhythm: the car was balanced and felt good, the last lap in Q2 was really good as well. I think we probably got as much as we could: we lacked a bit of pace, not in any particular corner but overall. It’s disappointing as we thought this would be a strong track for us, but we’re still not far off the points: it’s going to be a long day tomorrow, with the threat of rain as well, so everything can happen. Hopefully we can put up a good fight and bring home another top ten finish.”
Albon: “It’s a very frustrating result; I feel like we had much more to offer today. It’s such a tight window to get the tyres in the right place, and something like a red flag really disrupts our progress as everything cools down. I was happy with the laps that I did put in, and the car felt good, so from that perspective, it’s an even more frustrating day. These street tracks do seem to suit our car, so I think we were all hoping for more, but we’ll go again tomorrow and it’s possible that the weather may present some opportunities.”
Here’s how F1 Monaco GP qualifying panned out