Max secures crucial pole in Monaco: 'Really happy!'
Published on 27 May 2023 by Stefan Meens
In a scintillating qualifying session, Max Verstappen claimed pole position in the streets of Monte Carlo. The Oracle Red Bull Racing driver will start the Monaco Grand Prix from first place, with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso lining up alongside on the front row. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Esteban Ocon (Alpine) completed the top four.
“I’m really happy. We knew it was going to be difficult for us this weekend to get it all together”, said a delighted Max after Q3. “Friday didn’t start great, but we kept improving. In qualifying in Monaco you have to go all out and take the risks. The first sector on my first run in Q3 was not ideal. I was to cautious into turn one. I knew I was behind so I gave it everything in the final sector and I hit the barriers are few times. I’m so happy to be on pole for the first time in Monaco.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s gruelling 78 lap race, Max said: “We need a clean start; the run to the first corner is short. But anything can happen in Monaco, like safety cars and rain. There can be a lot of chaos, but in terms of race pace, our car is fast. We have to keep it clean and stay calm.”
At the start of qualifying, the sun is shining with an ambient temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. With Monaco being the shortest circuit on the F1 calendar, Q1 is incredibly busy with all 20 drivers hoping to get a clean lap without traffic. Throughout the session, Max is on the pace and continues to improve his lap times as the circuit gets faster and faster.
Max’ team mate Sergio Perez has the questionable honour to cause the only red flag of qualifying. With eleven minutes to go in Q1, the Mexican takes too much speed into turn one and slams his RB19 into the barriers. Perez’ qualifying is over and he has to settle for last place.
Once Perez’ stricken Red Bull is hoisted away, the session resumes. Max brushes the wall slightly in the final sector but again betters his lap time, resulting in the quickest lap of Q1. Further back, Logan Sargeant (Williams), Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo) and the two Haas of Kevin Magnussen a Nico Hulkenberg join Perez in the club of drivers that strand in the first segment of qualifying.
In Q2, Max continues to impress by clocking the fastest lap thus far, with Fernando Alonso and Charles Leclerc keeping the Dutchman honest. Nyck de Vries (AlphaTauri), Alex Albon (Williams), Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) and Oscar Piastri fail to progress into Q3. The latter’s McLaren team mate Lando Norris clips the barrier on his final Q2 run, but is able to return to the pits and contest the final part of qualifying.
On his opening flying lap in Q3, Max is unable to extract the same pace out of his RB19 compared to earlier in the session. His first effort is only good enough for fifth. Meanwhile, Alonso, Ocon and Leclerc are at the sharp end of timing sheets as the ten remaining drivers prepare for their final run. At the start of Max’ final attempt, he appears to lose out to Alonso, who has a two tenth advantage after sector two. However, the reigning champion produces a stonking final sector. Despite brushing the wall on multiple occasions, he finds three tenths and clinches a rewarding pole position in the streets of Monte Carlo.
|1||Max Verstappen||VER||Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT||1:12.386||1:11.908||1:11.365|
|2||Fernando Alonso||ALO||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:12.886||1:12.107||1:11.449|
|4||Esteban Ocon||OCO||Alpine Renault||1:12.967||1:12.248||1:11.553|
|7||Pierre Gasly||GAS||Alpine Renault||1:13.033||1:12.169||1:11.933|
|9||Yuki Tsunoda||TSU||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT||1:12.642||1:12.249||1:12.082|
|10||Lando Norris||NOR||McLaren Mercedes||1:12.877||1:12.377||1:12.254|
|11||Oscar Piastri||PIA||McLaren Mercedes||1:13.006||1:12.395|
|12||Nyck De Vries||DEV||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT||1:13.054||1:12.428|
|13||Alexander Albon||ALB||Williams Mercedes||1:12.706||1:12.527|
|14||Lance Stroll||STR||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:12.722||1:12.623|
|15||Valtteri Bottas||BOT||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:13.038||1:12.625|
|16||Logan Sargeant||SAR||Williams Mercedes||1:13.113|
|17||Kevin Magnussen||MAG||Haas Ferrari||1:13.270|
|18||Nico Hulkenberg||HUL||Haas Ferrari||1:13.279|
|19||Zhou Guanyu||ZHO||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:13.523|
|20||Sergio Perez||PER||Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT||1:13.850|