F1 – Monaco GP – Qualifying
Bonjour, MiniFans! We’re back in Monaco, home of F1 yet one of those circuits where the qualifying run tends to be more interesting than the race itself. Cars brush barriers as they go past in pursuit of pole position and drivers take risks on every metre of the track, all in order to come out as the fastest man on the Principality’s streets.
Twenty cars on a track usually means they slow down in some points of it, trying to make space to the driver in front in order not to have their lap compromised by them. However, in a circuit as narrow as short as Monaco, it also means needing to calculate perfectly when a team should let their drivers out of the box.
Q1 through Montecarlo is as much a matter of the skill of the drivers as it is their engineers’. Ferrari started off nicely, topping the sheets with both their cars quite close by each other, but Red Bull was following closely. The first red flag came courtesy of Yuki Tsunoda, who clipped the interior barrier of the first corner of the chicane after the tunnel, leaving everyone confused, as the AlphaTauri managed to get to boxes without further issues.
This left less than two and a half minutes on the clock and the subsequent train of cars, some of which couldn’t cross the finish line on time to try one last lap. Both McLarens did, saving themselves from not making it through in the last second, but others weren’t so lucky. The eliminated drivers in Q1 were Albon (P16), Gasly (P17), Stroll (P17), Latifi (P19) and Zhou (P20).
Five less cars didn’t give the rest of the grid enough peace of mind to not encounter trains in Q2, so everyone was queuing up way before the pit lane light would turn green. Repeating his FP3 quest, Pérez settled in first, in front of both Ferraris, all of them within four hundredths of a second, and Verstappen almost half a second behind.
As for the best of the rest, Alonso clinched that title halfway through, in front of a Hamilton that complained about the hotter temperature due to the sun peaking out from behind the clouds but would eventually lose it. One small misunderstanding between Leclerc and the weighing station became the anecdote of the session, as positions didn’t vary too much. The eliminated drivers in Q2 were Tsunoda (P11), Bottas (P12), Magnussen (P13), Ricciardo (P14) and Schumacher (P15).
The show stealer in Monaco is always Q3, where drivers finally let loose and give their hundred percent. This was proven as soon as the first times were set, with purples dyeing the sectors by courtesy of Charles Leclerc, who became almost untouchable. Behind the Ferraris and the Red Bulls, Alonso settled in fifth as the first run came to an end, but there was still time for the positions to be shuffled.
The second one started as the first one, with Leclerc commanding in purple, but a crash from Pérez, which ended up involving Sainz due to him not being able to react to the yellow flag, finished the session with a red flag and only a few places changed, but none of them in the top four and leaving Max Verstappen in a fourth place that didn’t exactly make him the happiest driver.
Monaco’s qualifying didn’t disappoint, allowing us to witness cars going insanely fast in a circuit that is known for being tricky and the one where mistakes are most costly. Leclerc’s path to his redemption in Monaco has started with a pole position that is more than half the victory on this track, but we have to wait until tomorrow to see if his curse is lifted and Ferrari is able to make it a 1-2 in the home race of their championship contender.