Charles Leclerc inches closer to glory at the F1 Monaco Grand Prix

Charles Leclerc inched closer and closer to fulfilling a lifelong dream on Saturday.

The hometown hero captured his third pole position in the Monaco Grand Prix, delivering the performance he needed to hold off the field and start up front in Formula 1’s marquee event.

But Leclerc has been here before, having captured pole position at Monaco in both 2021 and 2022. Both of those races, however, delivered yet more heartbreak for the Monégasque driver, who did not even start the race in 2021 due to a late-stage crash in qualifying, and was undone by a strategic error in the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix.

Can he finally undo all that painful history tomorrow?

He knows the job is not yet done.

“However, now I know more often than not in the past, qualifying is not everything,” said Leclerc trackside to Loic Duval following qualifying. ”As much as it helps a lot for Sunday’s race, we need to put everything together coming this Sunday.”

Something that will help his chances? A good start when the lights go out on Sunday.

“I need a good launch off the grid,” added Leclerc. ”And then once we do that, then hopefully Carlos can have a great start and follow me into turn one and we can be one-two. And if we are one-two, then we can manage that as a team.

“That would be the perfect scenario.

“But whatever happens, we just need to bring that victory home.”

His effort on Saturday moved Leclerc one step closer to exorcising all his hometown demons.

But the final hurdle remains tomorrow.

Here are the full qualifying results from Saturday at the Monaco Grand Prix, as well as more winners and losers from perhaps the most thrilling hour of the entire F1 season:


Winners: McLaren

It was a Saturday that would have made Ayrton Senna proud.

With the team running a tribute livery to the F1 legend, Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris put McLaren in position to have a tremendous Sunday and add to an already impressive start to the 2024 F1 season. The duo looked quick all week long, and backed that up with a P2 from Piastri — who will start on the second row for just the second time in his career — and a P4 from Norris.

That means the McLaren duo will be right behind each other going into Turn 1 on Sunday. And as Leclerc outlined above, if it is McLaren that gets the best launch tomorrow, and not Ferrari, it could truly be game on at the front.

“I mean, I think if you took the the second half of my first lap in Q3 and the first half of the second one, it would have been … it would have been enough,” recalled Piastri to Duval following qualifying. “But yeah, just a couple of mistakes at the end. But you know, credit to Charles. He’s been incredibly quick all weekend. At certain points. I don’t think anyone thought we were gonna get close to him.

“So, yeah, nice to be starting on the on the front row. I feel like it’s been a good weekend in terms of building momentum. And yeah, what better colors to do it in than these?”

Can McLaren deliver the performance they’ll need tomorrow?

“I mean, a good start always helps,” added Piastri. “And if you can get into the lead, then you can control it very easily around here. So, that’s probably the first goal. And if not, then with strategy. Because yeah, as optimistic as I wanna be, around here is not easy. So, we’ll try our best. But [we’re] starting from a good spot and, yeah, chance for for a good day tomorrow.”

F1 Grand Prix of Monaco - Practice

Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Losers: Red Bull

The word out of Red Bull all week was that they were on the back foot in Monaco.

That proved to be the case on Saturday, as Sergio Pérez was eliminated in Q1, and Max Verstappen could not find the lap time he needed in Q3 and will start the Monaco Grand Prix on the third row.

We can start with Pérez, who was a spectator for the second portion of qualifying. The “King of the Streets” was demoted to a pauper on this day, on a weekend that has seen Red Bull largely on the back foot when compared to the rest of the field. Both Pérez and Verstappen aired their frustration on Friday, as well as their concern that they would not be able to find an answer for the rest of the grid.

One could not be found on Pérez’s side of the garage on Saturday.

The Red Bull driver was in jeopardy throughout Q1 and when he needed a lap at the death to advance. He could not find it, finishing Q1 in P18, behind Logan Sargeant and head of only the Sauber duo of Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas.

As for Verstappen, he managed to advance to Q3, but struggled with grip on his final push lap, hitting the wall and eventually pulling out off the racing line. His run was over, and his previous lap was only good enough for sixth.

Red Bull is certainly not out of the running in tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix, but they will need some kind of intervention — whether weather, multiple safety cars, or all of the above — to get to the front of the field.

Winner: Pierre Gasly

If you wanted to know what advancing to Q3 for the first time all season meant to Pierre Gasly, you heard it in his voice when his team told him he finished Q2 up in P5.

“Let’s go! Let’s go!” exclaimed the Alpine driver after crossing the line.

Alpine has been on the back foot since arguably the first day of pre-season testing back in Bahrain in February. The A524, their challenger for the 2024 F1 season, came in overweight and frustratingly slow for Gasly and teammate Esteban Ocon.

But Alpine has been pushing hard to find more and more improvement each week, and slowly those efforts are being rewarded. Both drivers advanced to Q2 on Saturday, marking the fourth race in a row both Alpines saw the second segment of qualifying. While Gasly’s thunderous lap at the end of Q2 knocked Ocon out of Q3, it was another massive step forward for the team, and for Gasly himself.

Gasly will start the Monaco Grand Prix in tenth position, his best starting spot of the entire 2024 season.

Giving him a chance at his first points of the season as well.

Loser: Daniel Ricciardo

At the Miami Grand Prix, Daniel Ricciardo spoke at length about his love for the Monaco Grand Prix. The eight-time Grand Prix winner can count F1’s crown jewel as one of those victories having won here in 2018.

But if he is going to win again in Monaco, he is going to need something special on Sunday, and likely something more than what he can provide from the cockpit of his RB01.

Ricciardo managed to advance to Q2, but could not find the time he needed in the second session, and will start the Monaco Grand Prix in P13.

“I really struggled to get tires there, that first push,” said Ricciardo over the radio to his team after being eliminated in Q2.

With teammate Yuki Tsunoda moving on to Q3, that makes the head-to-head battle between the two Visa Cash App RB F1 teammates 7-1 in favor of Tsunoda. With both drivers scrapping for their F1 futures, this was another Saturday where you could say “Advantage: Tsunoda.”

F1 Grand Prix of Monaco - Practice

Photo by Emmanuele Ciancaglini/Ciancaphoto Studio/Getty Images

Winner: Alexander Albon

For the first time all season, Williams saw Q3 thanks to a strong performance from Alexander Albon.

The Williams driver, who recently signed a “multi-year” deal to remain with the team through the start of the 2026 regulations, punched his way into Q3 with a monumental lap at the end of Q2. His strong effort did not stop there, as Albon found one more good lap to qualify ninth, giving himself a shot at his — and the team’s — first points of the 2024 season.

Loser: Fernando Alonso

A calendar year can help describe the difference between Aston Martin’s 2023 season, and Aston Martin’s current campaign.

A year ago on this day Fernando Alonso was in the fight for pole position, and put his AMR23 into P1 in the closing seconds of Q3, only to be nipped at the death thanks to a thunderous final push lap from Max Verstappen.

This year, Alonso was relegated to a spectator to see those final laps of Q3, having been eliminated in Q1 down in P16.

Heading into the 2024 F1 season the word from Aston Martin was that they needed to do better with the in-season development of their challenger. A year ago Aston Martin was the story of the paddock in pre-season testing, and through the early part of the year. But as spring gave way to summer, the team faded, as rivals such as McLaren won the development wars.

The message? All is not lost for Aston Martin when it comes to the overall season. But on this day, Alonso could not find the lap he needed to advance into Q2, let alone challenge for pole position as he did a year ago in Monaco.

Winner: Carlos Sainz Jr.

Leclerc is not the only Ferrari driver starting at the front of the field.

Right behind him in P3 tomorrow will be teammate Carlos Sainz Jr.

Leclerc’s quest to slay his hometown demons certainly is the main storyline, but his teammate’s quest for Monaco glory — and a seat for next season — is quite the undercard. Sainz remains the only Ferrari driver to deliver a win these past two seasons and is one of just three drivers to win a Grand Prix this season.

Sainz described his qualifying session as a step forward while outlining his happiness for his teammate.

“I think overall, it was an improvement for me. I’ve been struggling all weekend with the confidence I’m dealing with in the car, so overall to step it up. And the P3 was a step forward,” said Sainz trackside. Obviously [I’m] not entirely happy, because I wish I could have been fighting for pole position, but the truth is that Charles has been doing an outstanding job. The car has been amazing all this weekend, and he managed to extract the most of it.

“And yeah, I’m happy for him.”

As for tomorrow, Sainz indicated that a podium for himself — and a win for his teammate — is the goal. When asked by Duval if he can beat ”at least one McLaren” on Sunday, Sainz had this to say:


“Yesterday I looked very quick on the long run. So for some reason this weekend, I’ve been struggling on the short run and the long run seems much better, which is something we will need to look into,” continued Sainz. ”But I’m confident that tomorrow the pace in the long run will be good … But, you know, it’s Monaco. Anything can happen, like always, and we will give it our best shot. But the priority will be to win with Charles tomorrow.”

Sounds like the perfect teammate.

F1 Grand Prix of Monaco - Practice

Winners: Mercedes

Following Friday’s dual practice sessions both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton hailed one of the team’s best Fridays of the year. Russell in particular sounded confident, despite some struggles with vibrations in his steering wheel, and noted his hopes that the team would be fighting for the top five on Saturday.

Mission accomplished.

Russell will start the Monaco Grand Prix in P5, with his teammate right behind him in P7. Those starting spots give the Silver Arrows a chance at another double-points result, and their best one of the entire 2024 season at that.

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