Weather: dry 26°C
Asphalt: dry 48°C
Wind: 1 km/h W
Pressure: 1016 bar
Max Verstappen qualified as fastest for the 23rd time today. The Red Bull driver won pole position for the first time ahead of tomorrow’s 2023 Monaco Grand Prix. It was his third pole position of the season for the Dutch driver and his 86th pole position for Red Bull Racing.
Monaco witnessed an emotional Q1 session of the 2023 F1 Grand Prix marked by unexpected twists and an electrifying performance from Max Verstappen. As the drivers revved their engines and anticipation built, qualifying held everyone together.
As the pit lane opened and the race began between Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, there was a palpable tension over who would be off the track first. Both opted for second-hand soft tyres, as did the pairing of Mercedes and Fernando Alonso, with Verstappen following suit.
Already in the first ten minutes on the track there was a fight for a place. Leclerc and George Russell found themselves in good positions and while Alex Albon tried to avoid traffic at the end of the push lap, all the drivers headed out on fresh soft tyres, leaving nothing to chance.
Eight minutes into the session, the drivers started showing purple sectors in rapid succession as track improvements continued to take place. Albon briefly overtook but was overtaken by Verstappen. Russell finished second and Valtteri Bottas finished fourth.
With seven minutes left Perez dropped to 15th in a discouraging position and soon fell to 16th. Lewis Hamilton, still in the relegation zone, needed a strong lap to improve his position. Meanwhile, the Haas drivers have yet to make their move.
With six minutes left in the game, Alonso led, followed by Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly. The track remained unpredictable and tensions mounted as Hamilton could only manage P12, calling for a tire change.
Four minutes from the end of the session, Russell jumped to P4, eclipsing his Mercedes teammate Hamilton. Verstappen led, followed by Alonso, Lance Stroll and Ocon. The last lap was predictable.
With just three minutes left, Oscar Piastri announced over the team’s radio that he had cut through the wall, placing him on P14. Sainz, who was on the edge of P15, was among the drivers in the drop zone, including Zhou Guanyu, Logan Sargeant, Sergio Perez, Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg.
With two minutes to go there was a wave of activity and Hamilton and Russell opted for fresh tyres. However, only Ferrari drivers Verstappen and Alonso seemed to survive with one set of tyres. Tsunoda surprised everyone by pulling forward.
In the final minute of the qualifying session, Verstappen assured his team that despite a minor scratch on the wall, his car was fine. Leclerc complained about his teammate’s block. Sainz was still struggling to improve his position, navigating a sea of traffic.
Verstappen emerged at the top of Q1 followed by Yuki Tsunoda and Alex Albon. Carlos Sainz managed to save himself by finishing fourth, while Hamilton finished seventh. The top 15 included George Russell, Lewis Hamilton, Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, Charles Leclerc, Esteban Ocon, Oscar Piastri, Pierre Gasly, Valtteri Bottas and Nyck De Vries. Particularly absent from the top 15 were Perez, Zhou, Sargeant, Magnussen and Hulkenberg1.
In a thrilling Q2 session at the 2023 Monaco Grand Prix, qualifying results produced a mix of predictable results and unforeseen twists. Drivers Piastri, de Vries, Albon, Stroll and Bottas were unable to secure a place in the top 10 and missed the next stage.
Despite predictions of their potential improvement, neither Piastri nor de Vries nor Albon were on a hot lap. Unfortunately, Stroll, who placed 14th, also failed. The Canadian came under the spotlight for missing the weighbridge, potentially putting him at risk of further fines.
There were top 10 places up for grabs and the competition was fierce. Leclerc in P2 and Russell in P4 pitted as did Norris in ninth. Hamilton climbed to P5, consequently pushing Piastri to P11.
Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes had some tense moments. He raised concerns about his right rear suspension, pointing to potential technical issues. However, the British driver managed to improve his time to fifth place, temporarily relieving himself of the mounting pressure.
Further drama developed when Norris hit the barrier at Tabac, creating a sense of tension. However, he continued to fight, albeit with a wobbly car, and managed to get back into the pits.
As time wore on, drivers pushed their vehicles to the limit. Leclerc climbed to second, but Verstappen remained in the pits along with the alpine duo. In a late charge, Bottas headed into the pit lane for his last stint.
The track was quite busy with six cars and Russell was on a hot lap. His orderly round saw him cross the line to finish third, just a quarter of a second behind Verstappen. However, Hamilton was right behind him and, despite a clean run, secured only 10th place.
As the session drew to a close, several drivers returned to the pits for a new set of tyres. Tsunoda was forced to pit after a minor lockdown at Nouvelle Chicane. Stroll found himself in a difficult position, missed the weighbridge and was pushed away.
In the final moments, Alpine showed promise on fresh tyres, while Alonso and Albon were pushing for used ones. Mercedes had nail biting as Hamilton moved up from P11 to ninth, which ironically put his teammate into the elimination zone.
Gasly’s impressive performance put him second behind Alonso and Ocon. Despite their best efforts, Sainz and Leclerc could only take the virtual third row of the grid.
Verstappen led the session on the new tyres, setting a tough time of 1m 12.038s for his competitors. However, Russell and Hamilton could not surpass him, despite their close performances.
In the end, it was an emotional Q2 session, full of drama and tension, setting the stage for the thrilling Monaco Grand Prix. Traffic and the constant risk of yellow and red flags added to the high intensity atmosphere. While Verstappen was leading, unexpected performances were achieved by Tsunoda and Albon, who timed their laps well, adding a unique twist to the qualifying round.
In what could be considered one of his best pole positions to date, Max Verstappen emerged victorious from a brilliant Q3 at the 2023 Monaco Grand Prix. Despite not appearing to be on a particularly noteworthy lap, Verstappen discovered a critical three-tenth in the final sector, beating Alonso by less than a tenth of a second.
Verstappen’s success on the twisty Monaco circuit is even more significant given the first radio response after the lap, in which the Red Bull driver commented on the close encounter with the wall. “On the straight I hit the wall pretty hard!” he admitted. However, that didn’t stop the Dutchman from taking the pole, and his result indicates a brilliant display of skill and precision.
Former champion Fernando Alonso, just 0.084 seconds off pole position, will join Verstappen on the front row. Further down the grid, Leclerc and Ocon finished second with Sainz and Hamilton finishing third. Rounding out the top ten are Gasly, Russell, Tsunoda and Norris.
An incident involving Norris (Car 4) and Leclerc (Car 16) at Turn 9 was noted during the session, potentially affecting the final standings.
There were a number of lead changes in the exciting final minutes. Alonso topped the charts with two minutes left, only to be overtaken by Leclerc, albeit briefly before Alonso returned the favor with an exceptional performance.
Mercedes’ George Russell, meanwhile, had an impressive run, finishing fourth on used tyres. As for Hamilton, his run saw him improve to third, albeit only briefly before dropping to sixth.
The crucial nature of the so-called ‘banker’ lap was clearly evident in this session, as evidenced by Verstappen’s early lap time of 1m 12.102s – which seemed surmountable but proved to be an effective safety measure .
Given that the post-qualifying session was so dramatic, one can only predict what the race itself may bring. Despite minor challenges and intense competition, Verstappen stands at the forefront, ready to battle on the Monte Carlo street circuit. The green lights mark the end of qualifying, but at the same time signal the exciting clash that awaits us at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Last year’s pole position was 1:11 376 minutes for Charles Leclerc at the wheel of a Ferrari F1-75.
What Times 2023 Monaco F1 GP
*Car 16 – 3rd place penalty – Hindering another driver
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