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Max Verstappen qualified as quickest for the 23rd time today. The Red Bull driver scored pole position for tomorrow's 2023 Monaco Grand Prix for the first time. It was his third pole of the season for the Dutch driver and the 86th pole for Red Bull Racing.
Monaco witnessed a nail-biting Q1 session of the F1 Grand Prix 2023, marked by unexpected twists and an electrifying performance by Max Verstappen. As the drivers revved their engines and the anticipation built, the qualifying event held everyone in its grip.
With the pit lane open and the race off to a start, there was palpable tension between Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz over who would exit first. Both opted for used soft tyres, as did the Mercedes pair and Fernando Alonso, with Verstappen following suit.
In the first ten minutes, a fight for space emerged on the track. Leclerc and George Russell found themselves in good positions, and while Alex Albon tried to avoid catching traffic at the end of his push lap, all drivers headed out on fresh soft tyres, leaving nothing to chance.
Eight minutes into the session, drivers started showcasing purple sectors in quick succession, as track improvements continued to occur. Albon pulled ahead briefly, only to be surpassed by Verstappen. Russell nestled into the second spot, with Valtteri Bottas securing fourth place.
With seven minutes to go, Perez found himself relegated to P15, a daunting position, soon slipping to P16. Lewis Hamilton, still in the drop zone, needed a strong lap to improve his standing. Meanwhile, the Haas drivers were yet to make their move.
Six minutes left on the clock saw Alonso leading, followed by Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly. The track remained unpredictable, and the tension mounted as Hamilton could only manage P12, calling for a tyre change.
Four minutes before the session's end, Russell leapt to P4, outshining his fellow Mercedes driver Hamilton. Verstappen led the pack, trailed by Alonso, Lance Stroll, and Ocon. The last lap was anyone's guess.
With only three minutes to go, Oscar Piastri announced via team radio that he had clipped the wall, placing him at P14. Sainz, on the brink at P15, was among the drivers in the drop zone, including Zhou Guanyu, Logan Sargeant, Sergio Perez, Kevin Magnussen, and Nico Hulkenberg.
Two minutes to go saw a flurry of activity with Hamilton and Russell opting for fresh tyres. However, only the Ferrari drivers, Verstappen, and Alonso seemed likely to make it through with just one set of tyres. Tsunoda surprised everyone by pulling ahead.
In the final minute of the qualifying session, Verstappen assured his team that, despite a minor scrape with the wall, his car was fine. Leclerc complained about a block from his teammate. Sainz was still fighting to improve his position, navigating through a sea of traffic.
Verstappen emerged at the top of Q1, followed by Yuki Tsunoda and Alex Albon. Carlos Sainz managed to save himself, claiming the fourth spot, while Hamilton ended at 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. Notably absent from the top 15 were Perez, Zhou, Sargeant, Magnussen, and Hulkenberg1.
In an enthralling Q2 session at the 2023 Monaco Grand Prix, the qualifying results yielded a mix of predictable outcomes and unforeseen turns. Drivers Piastri, de Vries, Albon, Stroll, and Bottas were unable to secure a top 10 position, thus missing out on the next stage.
Despite anticipations on their potential improvement, neither Piastri, de Vries, nor Albon were on a hot lap. Unfortunately, Stroll, placed at P14, couldn't make the cut either. The Canadian was in the spotlight for missing the weighbridge, potentially subjecting him to further penalties.
The top 10 slots were up for grabs, and the competition was fierce. Leclerc in P2 and Russell from P4 went to the pits, as did Norris from the ninth position. Hamilton climbed to P5, consequently pushing Piastri to P11.
Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes faced some tense moments. He raised concerns over his right rear suspension, hinting at potential technical issues. The British driver, however, managed to improve his timing to fifth, momentarily relieving any mounting pressure.
Further drama unfolded as Norris hit the barrier at Tabac, creating a sense of suspense. Yet, he continued to soldier on, albeit with a shaky car, and managed to return to the pits.
As time dwindled, drivers pushed their vehicles to the limits. Leclerc ascended to the second spot, but Verstappen stayed in the pits, alongside the Alpine duo. In a late charge, Bottas headed down the pit lane for his final run.
The track was quite busy with six cars out there, Russell being on a hot lap. His tidy round saw him cross the line to place third, only a quarter of a second behind Verstappen. However, he was followed closely by Hamilton, who, despite a clean run, could only secure 10th place.
As the session drew closer to the end, several drivers returned to the pits for a fresh set of tires. Tsunoda was compelled to pit after a small lock up at the Nouvelle Chicane. Stroll found himself in a tight spot, missing the weighbridge and being pushed back.
In the last moments, Alpine showed promise with fresh tires, while Alonso and Albon pushed on used ones. Mercedes had a nail-biting round as Hamilton moved up from P11 to ninth, which ironically dropped his teammate into the elimination zone.
Gasly's impressive performance placed him second, with Alonso and Ocon not far behind. Despite their best efforts, Sainz and Leclerc could only occupy the virtual third row of the grid.
Verstappen led the session on new tires, setting a tough time of 1m 12.038s for his competitors. However, Russell and Hamilton couldn't outdo him, despite their close performances.
In the end, it was a thrilling Q2 session filled with drama and suspense, setting the stage for a riveting Monaco Grand Prix. Traffic and the ever-present risk of yellow and red flags added to the high-intensity atmosphere. While Verstappen led, surprise performances came from Tsunoda and Albon who timed their laps well, adding a unique spin to the qualifying round.
In what can be considered as one of his finest pole positions yet, Max Verstappen has emerged victorious from a scintillating Q3 at the 2023 Monaco Grand Prix. Despite not appearing to be on a particularly noteworthy lap, Verstappen discovered a critical three-tenths in the final sector, besting Alonso by less than a tenth of a second.
Verstappen's success on the winding Monaco circuit is made all the more significant given an initial radio response post-lap, where the Red Bull driver commented on a close encounter with the wall. "I hit the wall pretty hard on the straight!", he admitted. Yet, this did not stop the Dutchman from securing pole, his result indicative of a brilliant display of skill and precision.
Former champion Fernando Alonso, who narrowly missed out on pole by just 0.084 seconds, will be joining Verstappen on the front row. Further down the grid, Leclerc and Ocon secured the second row, with Sainz and Hamilton populating the third. Rounding out the top 10 are Gasly, Russell, Tsunoda, and Norris.
An incident involving Norris (Car 4) and Leclerc (Car 16) at turn 9 was noted during the session, which may potentially have a bearing on the final standings.
A thrilling final few minutes saw multiple lead changes. Alonso topped the charts with two minutes remaining, only for Leclerc to overtake him, albeit briefly, before Alonso returned the favour with an exceptional performance.
Meanwhile, Mercedes' George Russell had an impressive run, clinching fourth place on used tyres. As for Hamilton, his run saw him improve to third, albeit only momentarily before slipping down to sixth.
Evident from this session was the crucial nature of the so-called 'banker' lap, demonstrated by Verstappen's early flying lap that landed him a 1m 12.102s time - this seemed beatable, yet proved to be an effective safety measure.
With the concluding session of the qualifiers seeing this much drama, one can only anticipate what the race itself might hold. Despite minor challenges and intense competition, Verstappen stands poised on pole, ready to take on the Monte Carlo street circuit. The green lights have signalled the end of qualifying, yet they also signal the exciting showdown that awaits us in the Monaco Grand Prix.
Last years pole time was a 1:11,376 min driven by Charles Leclerc with the Ferrari F1-75.
Quali Times 2023 Monaco F1 GP
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:12.386||1:11.908||1:11.365||30|
|2||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin||1:12.886||1:12.107||1:11.449||25|
|12||21||Nyck de Vries||AlphaTauri||1:13.054||1:12.428||20|
|14||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||1:12.722||1:12.623||19|
|15||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||1:13.038||1:12.625||22|
|19||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo||1:13.523||13|
|20||11||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull||1:13.850||4|
*Car 16 - 3 place grid penalty - Impeding another driver
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