Charles Leclerc secures pole position at the Monaco GP

Max Verstappen’s record number of poles was brought to a halt by Charles Leclerc’s blistering lap on his home streets of Monaco.

After equalling Ayrton Senna’s haul of eight poles in Imola last weekend, the world champion qualified a distant sixth and now has it all to do on the principality’s tight and unforgiving circuit. He even clipped his Red Bull on the barriers at Saint Devote, the opening corner, and complained of a ‘slippery’ car.

‘We knew we would struggle here,’ said Verstappen, who is still 60 points clear of Ferrari’s Leclerc. ‘I thought I did OK given that. It’s like driving a go-kart. There’s no suspension and kept nearly putting it in the wall.

‘The circuit doesn’t suit us, but one race doesn’t make a season.’

Red Bull’s underperformance was underlined by Sergio Perez, the so-called ‘King of the Streets’, being eliminated in Q1. The Mexican will start 18th.

Charles Leclerc will start on pole at the Monaco Grand Prix to secure Ferrari’s 250th ever pole

Ferrari starred in the qualification sessions as they produced the fastest car of the day

McLaren enjoyed a strong day as Oscar Piastri  finished second and Lando Norris fourth

As for Leclerc, he qualified 0.154sec ahead of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri in second place. Carlos Sainz was third best for Ferrari, Lando Norris fourth for McLaren and George Russell fifth for Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton was only seventh fastest – making it 7-1 to Russell against his Silver Arrows team-mate in qualifying this season.

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It was Leclerc’s third pole in the principality where he grew up, the son of a garage owner. However, he has never managed to claim a podium finish here.

If he wins today, he will become only the second Monegasque to do so after Louis Chiron in 1931.

‘The feeling after qualifying is very special here,’ said Leclerc, 26. ‘The excitement is very high. I know that qualifying is not everything. We need to put everything together in the race.’

It was a difficult afternoon for Max Verstappen who will start in a lowly sixth place tomorrow

True, tight though the track is, only three pole-men have converted their advantage to victory in the last eight editions.

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, 16th, was another unexpectedly early faller.

Alex Albon was a creditable ninth for Williams.

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