Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix with his final attempt while a Ferrari error resulted in Charles Leclerc being eliminated in Q1.
Hamilton was 0.2s slower than team-mate Valtteri Bottas after the first runs in Q3, but was one of few drivers to improve with his final lap and registered a 1:10.166 – a new lap record – to snatch pole position by 0.086s.
Bottas backed off on his final attempt as he struggled to improve, while Max Verstappen ended up third as he too couldn’t go quicker and was eventually nearly half a second off the pace.
Sebastian Vettel will start from fourth ahead of Pierre Gasly and Kevin Magnussen, with Daniel Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz and Alexander Albon rounding out the top 10. But the bigger story is a driver who wasn’t taking part in the final section of qualifying.
Ferrari continued to trip over itself with a shambolic Q1 session when Leclerc was knocked out by teammate Vettel. The home favorite had been quickest in FP3 and somewhat lucky to escape a grid penalty for being too fast under the Virtual Safety Car during that session, but any chance of fighting for pole position disappeared amid strategic errors.
Vettel – who had crashed in FP3 – touched the wall on the outside of the Swimming Pool and aborted a late attempt, returning to the pits to have the car checked. Heading out with 90 seconds remaining, Vettel was in the drop zone, but the focus on the German appeared to cause Ferrari to forget about his teammate.
Leclerc was dropping down the standings as the track got quicker through the session, but Ferrari did not send him out. By the time Vettel was approaching the final sector and going fastest, Leclerc had slipped to 15th place, and when Vettel completed his lap he eliminated the Monegasque, who was visibly angry in the garage.
“I’ve had no explanation from the team, they’re still qualifying with Seb,” Leclerc said immediately afterwards.
Nico Hulkenberg was eliminated in the second part of qualifying by just 0.062s, and Lando Norris was just as close to the Renault in 12th, but it was Romain Grosjean in 13th who was most frustrated after being held up by Gasly. The Haas driver delivered a number of expletives over team radio, and stewards were left investigating the incident where Grosjean locked up his front tires exiting Casino Square to avoid running into the back of the Red Bull.
Both Alfa Romeo cars dropped out in Q2 after having looked so competitive earlier in the day, with neither driver able to improve on their times from the first part of qualifying and Antonio Giovinazzi facing an investigation for impeding Hulkenberg.
There were no real shocks aside from Leclerc in Q1. Both Racing Point cars missed out in 17th and 18th – Sergio Perez the quicker of the two and just 0.8s off the fastest time in a tight session – ahead of George Russell and Robert Kubica.