Ferrari's Charles Leclerc clinches Monaco Grand Prix pole position despite crash

Leclerc could forfeit pole if damage to his car is too great and he receives grid penalty

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc grabbed the pole position for his home Monaco Grand Prix after setting the fastest time during qualifying, despite damaging his car.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen will start the race alongside him on the front row with world champion Lewis Hamilton back on the fourth row.

Qualifying was red flagged at the end, depriving Hamilton and Verstappen of an opportunity to better Leclerc's time.

Leclerc secured his eighth career pole but first at Monaco despite his crash into a wall which ripped off his car's front wing.

"It's a shame to finish in the wall, it's doesn't feel the same but I'm incredibly happy about my lap," he said.

His mechanics need to carry out repairs in the allotted time if Leclerc is not to pick up a penalty and lose his position.

Hamilton's Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas set the third fastest time with Carlos Sainz in the other Ferrari alongside.

Leclerc, 23, smashed into the barriers with 18 seconds of the session remaining.

"With the crash, I don't know where I'm starting tomorrow," said Leclerc.

"I'm not feeling well for now, I'm just waiting for mechanics to open the gearbox."

Red Bull's Verstappen was one of those who had to abort their final flying laps but the Dutch driver can inherit pole if the Ferrari needs a new gearbox.

"It was all going really well and the red flag ruined the chance for pole," said Verstappen.

Mercedes' world championship leader Hamilton qualified a distant seventh.

"We go back to the drawing board now," said the seven times world champion. "There is a lack of grip, so that leaves you to overdrive the car and unfortunately it just didn't improve."

Leclerc had taken provisional pole after the opening flying laps, with a time 0.230 seconds quicker than Verstappen's best, but got it all wrong at the Swimming Pool chicane.

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto said it was too early to know whether the gearbox was damaged.

"We are worried but we are checking it," he said.

Published: May 22, 2021 07:24 PM


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