Magical battle with Verstappen on pole in front of Alonso

Alonso’s gesture of affection, who went to touch Verstappen’s head as soon as he got out of the car, defines the magical event that took place in qualifying in Monaco: two titans pushing the limits and fighting to the thousandth for the most valuable pole it’s from the season. A true spectacle lap after lap and with enormous opposition, because Ferrari or even Alpine was able to sneak into the front row. The best Fernando, “pushing like an animal” in Q3, against the world champion. The first two sectors of the final lap were scored by the Asturian, aggressive as never before in search of a result that could be historic (his last pole position was in 2012). But the third sector was Mad Max in its purest, anthological state, scraping the walls to take the final pulse with 84 thousandths of an advantage. Verstappen, Alonso, Leclerc, Ocon and Sainz, in that order, will form the Monte Carlo grid.

The last minutes of qualifying bordered on epic: Esteban and Charles took provisional pole. then the animalized Fernando would place him with a very clear advantage over both. And on Max himself, who arrived last and desperate with two tenths of loss before the last sector. But this Dutchman is something else and his Red Bull too. He faced the best Hamilton in 2021 and beat him, just as he has been left over in recent months against Ferrari or his teammate. In any case, this Sunday he faces the unknown: Alonso comes out on the front row in a special grand prix, in which the start and the strategy are essential. The two decades of experience in this circuit play against Max. The ten years in search of a car like this Aston Martin play in favor of Fernando: This Sunday he goes out to settle accounts with F1.

Leclerc (Ferrari), Alonso (Aston Martin) and Verstappen (Red Bull).  Monte Carlo, Monaco.  F1 2023.
Leclerc (Ferrari), Alonso (Aston Martin) and Verstappen (Red Bull). Monte Carlo, Monaco. F1 2023.ANDREJ ISAKOVICAFP

Too bad Ferrari and Sainz got lost along the way. On Friday they were the reference, but the performance of the SF-23 went down the toilet on Saturday morning and only Leclerc raised the flag with that final attempt, desperately, which took him to third place. Carlos was fifth, far from what his first position predicted in the free practice sessions that opened the weekend. He was hurt by a last lap with poor placement: he had to overtake three cars and traffic weighed down the first sector. He had been faster than Charles on a regular basis since Friday. He changed the track, or changed the Ferrari, but one of the two Spanish tricks disappeared from the top-3. He will have to get rid of the Alpine by using the strategy to not fall behind the leaders and follow the podium closely, but in the background.

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Checo’s serious mistake in Santa Devota

At the time of the chosen ones, Checo was missing: the Mexican crashed in Santa Devota during Q1, a rude mistake for the winner of the last Monaco GP that will cost him many points, because Verstappen does not give in. There were no more scares or major absences, or relevant accidents in the hour of fast laps on the Principality’s asphalt. Twelve months ago he was the star, now he has crashed into the career that changed him forever. Because the fight for the World Cup takes other paths. In the absence of rivals, Fernando remains. “You’re the best… and you know it,” read a huge banner over the entrance to the Monte Carlo pit-lane (which the police took charge of taking down on Friday night) with an Asturian accent. In the absence of the message, the dregs remain.

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