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Leclerc claims pole in Monaco

NEWS STORY
22/05/2021

It is somewhat ironic that on a day the Haas finally began to show some promise, the American outfit's Monaco weekend has been somewhat compromised.

14th on the timesheets, seeking a late improvement Mick Schumacher pushed a little too hard as he exited Casino Square and subsequently paid the price of disrespecting this harshest of race tracks.

As a result the German, whose car suffered major damage, will not take part in this afternoon's session.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen if Nicholas Latifi, who caused the other red flag period, will have his Williams repaired in time. That said, the Canadian's Williams got off somewhat lightly compared to the damage incurred by the Haas.

The two red flag periods predictably played havoc with those drivers seeking to improve their times, and consequently we head into this most important hour not knowing the true pecking order.

What we do know is that the Red Bull has good pace, as do the Ferraris. Likewise the McLaren - certainly in the hands of Norris - while 2005 winner, Kimi Raikkonen finished an impressive 8th.

Mercedes, on the other hand, struggled, particularly Hamilton, the Black Arrows unable to generate sufficient heat into their tyres.

However, we've been here before, as Verstappen put it earlier this weekend, the seven-time world champion appears at sixes and sevens and then pulls out a stunner of a lap to claim pole at the death.

While experience is making all the difference here this weekend, that hasn't been the case with 2018 winner, Ricciardo, who continues to struggle, as does Tsunoda who is increasingly under pressure from Red Bull's Lord High Executioner, Mr Marko.

As was the case earlier, traffic is likely to be a problem, particularly in Q1, while a number of drivers - courtesy of those red flags - never got to do their final qualifying sims.

While the Mercedes / Red Bull battle remains as entertaining as ever, the improved form of Ferrari adds some extra spice to the mix, as does the ever impressive Norris.

Ahead of Q1, the air temperature is 18.8 degrees C, while the track temperature is 34.4 degrees. There is a 30% chance of rain.

In the moments before the session gets underway, Williams confirms that "thanks to a huge effort" Latifi will participate.

Understandably, there is a queue at the end of the pitlane awaiting the green light, with Russell leading the way.

Tsunoda is told to "focus on tyres and brakes".

"Tyres are not ready," reports Russell ahead of what should have been his first flying lap. However, Raikkonen posts a 14.091, before being leapfrogged by his Alfa teammate with a 13.429.

A 12.676 sees Norris go quickest, ahead of Verstappen (12.987).

Ocon goes third (13.359), ahead of Ricciardo, Giovinazzi and Stroll.

Gasly goes second and Russell ninth as the Mercedes pair begin their first flying laps.

Raikkonen improves to second with a 12.757, clear proof that the track is coming to the drivers.

Bottas goes quickest (11.794) while teammate Hamilton can only manage third (11.989). However, both a demoted when Verstappen responds with an 11.522.

An 11.341 sees Sainz go top, the action fast and frantic. Indeed, we are barely 8 minutes in.

Raikkonen heads down the escape road at Ste Devote, as Leclerc goes third (11.550).

Verstappen and Norris trade fastest sectors as Hamilton improves to fourth with an 11.622.

No sooner has Norris gone top (11.321) than Verstappen posts an 11.124.

Sainz consolidates third with an 11.324.

Quickest in S2, Bottas maintains the pace in S3, crossing the line at 10.938 to go quickest.

PBs in all three sectors see Gasly go sixth, as an 11.113s sees Leclerc go second.

A 12.078 sees Vettel go 10th as Russell goes 12th (12.460).

With 3:45 remaining, Alonso, Ocon, Latifi and Mazepin comprise the drop zone, with Tsunoda, Raikkonen and Ricciardo hovering.

Russell goes tenth, Giovinazzi 12th and Raikkonen 13th, but the Alfa pair are demoted when Ocon posts a 12.125 to go 11th.

Ricciardo goes ninth with an 11.927, as Raikkonen slips into the drop zone.

As Hamilton begins another flying lap, Alonso fails t improve on 17th.

Russell and Vettel trading PBs as they battle for 11th.

At the death, Raikkonen improves to ninth (11.899) with a typically brilliant lap.

Giovinazzi and Ocon also improve, while Ricciardo seeks to improve on 12th.

As the Australian goes 11th, Alonso fails to make the cut.

Quickest is Bottas, ahead of Leclerc, Verstappen, Norris, Sainz, Gasly, Hamilton, Perez, Giovinazzi and Ocon.

We lose Tsunoda, Alonso, Latifi and Mazepin.

The Mercedes pair are among those queuing at the end of the pitlane for the green light that signals the start of Q2.

In no time at all, all 15 drivers are on track.

Raikkonen posts a 12.018, while Leclerc can only manage a 22.834 due to traffic.

Stroll goes top with an 11.876, but all eyes are on the big guns.

Verstappen goes top (11.040), with Leclerc posting an 11.037 moments later only to be demoted by his Ferrari teammate (10.806).

Hamilton goes fourth (11.178) and Bottas fifth (11.187), the top five covered by 0.381s.

Norris goes quickest in S1, the McLaren driver subsequently posting an 11.031 to go second.

However, Verstappen is on a quick lap, the Dutchman quickest in both the opening sectors. At the line it's a 10.650.

Bottas can only manage an 11.049, which puts him fifth, just ahead of his Mercedes teammate.

And as a very big, dark cloud moves in, Verstappen heads the Ferrari duo, with Perez currently seventh.

With 6:00 remaining, the drop zone comprises Giovinazzi, Stroll, Ocon, Raikkonen and Russell.

Replay shows Stroll brushing the barriers at Portier.

Ricciardo not sounding at all confident.

Russell improve to 13th with an 11.977.

Bottas goes quickest in S2, as Stroll goes 11th overall.

Bottas improves to fourth with a 10.940.

PBs in the first two sectors for Hamilton, however, despite improving his time, the world champion remains sixth.

Leclerc goes quickest in S2, as Norris consolidates fifth with an 11.031.

Leclerc goes top, the Monegasque crossing the line at 10.597.

Ricciardo fails to improve on 11th, as Bottas improves to third (10.695).

Stroll improves from 14th to 13th, thereby failing to make the cut.

Perez improves to fifth with an 11.019, thereby demoting Hamilton to seventh.

Told he has missed the cut, Ricciardo is clearly very disappointed.

Leclerc is quickest, ahead of Verstappen, Bottas, Sainz, Perez, Norris, Hamilton, Gasly, Vettel and Giovinazzi.

We lose Ocon, Ricciardo, Stroll, Raikkonen and Russell.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Monaco, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by F1 Yank, 24/05/2021 15:52

"SLR, you were right! Again! Except for the VER/LEC collision at Sainte Devote! Ha Ha! I do think that LeClerc in that Ferrari was pretty quick and it looked like it. However it was a bonehead move hitting the wall at the swimming pool.
Hey Kenji! What do you think?"

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2. Posted by SexyLadyRacer, 22/05/2021 20:57

"I said that Max Verstappen was overrated and I'm right!
Max had the best and fastest Red Bull car which was definitely the car to beat in Qualifying and should have claimed Pole position, but Max messed up again!

I also predicted that Yuki Tsunoda and Nicholas Latifi would crashed at the Monaco GP weekend, and I'm right again!
However, Max and Nikita Mazepin didn't crash but it was Mick Schumacher who crashed!

It's going to be very difficult to predict what will happen in the Race tomorrow though! If Max has really matured then he will play the long game and won't be making a dive into Charles Leclerc at the first corner on the first lap!
If Max hasn't fully matured yet, he may be tempted to take the lead on the first lap, and there is a possibility that Max and Charles could crash together on the first lap and take each other out, because I can't see Charles giving up the lead and the win in his home race! "

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