Charles Leclerc denies Verstappen historic pole in breathless Monaco GP qualifying

The Monegasque starts on pole at his home race for only the second time in his career

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Charles Leclerc will start the Formula 1 2024 Monaco Grand Prix at the front of the grid after the Ferrari driver saw off McLaren’s Oscar Piastri in a thrilling battle for pole position.

Verstappen had been chasing a new F1 record of nine consecutive pole positions, but the Dutchman had struggled with bouncing issues throughout the entire weekend.

And Leclerc had set the fastest time in both FP2 and FP3, showing his bravery as he threw his Ferrari around the tight corners of the street circuit. That proved to be the case in Q3 when it truly mattered, as he pulled out a time of 1:10.270, putting him in front of Piastri on the front row and Carlos Sainz in P3 ahead of Lando Norris.

It was much closer in qualifying as the Red Bull found its true pace on the soft tyre, with McLaren and Mercedes joining a four-way fight for pole at the front.

Charles Leclerc during the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix weekend | Suderia Ferrari Press Office
Charles Leclerc is on pole for the 2024 Monaco GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

George Russell was quickest in Q1, while Lando Norris had topped Q2 ahead of Leclerc. But when it truly mattered, the Ferrari star pulled a huge lap out of the bag, to put himself ahead of Piastri after the first runs, with Verstappen a tenth down in P3.

But both Mercedes improved on the second, with Russell ahead of Verstappen in P5 after the latter hit the wall and could only manage P6. Lewis Hamilton is seventh despite showing good pace, with Yuki Tsunoda, Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly making up the rest of the top 10.

Perez pays the price

With all 20 drivers on track in the final moments of Q1, hell broke loose in terms of cars trying to move out of the way for each other, but most behaved better than they did in the three practice sessions with impeding incidents at a minimum.

But there was always likely to be a high-profile casualty in Q1 with the track evolving right up to the checkered flag. With the likes of Alex Albon and Kevin Magnussen knocking in unexpectedly quick laps, the pressure was on the likes of Norris, Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez to dig out a lap on their respective final runs.

Norris scraped into the top 10, but Alonso decided to abort his lap attempt and bowed out in Q1. But Perez was the main casualty after the Mexican couldn’t improve his time and will start from 18th on the grid behind Logan Sargeant in the Williams.

Onto Q2, it got even tighter at the top with the fight for pole heating up, with three and maybe four teams in contention to snatch the all-important front spot on the grid.
Oscar Piastri became the first driver to breach the 1 minute 10 second mark for the weekend in the McLaren, highlighting their pace once again, before Norris went marginally quicker.

Pierre Gasly was the surprise runner to squeeze into Q3, knocking out his team-mate Esteban Ocon, and Albon also pipped the Frenchman to take the final place in the top-10 shootout.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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