Verstappen achieves his first ‘pole’ in Monaco, Alonso remains in second place

The Dutch driver Max Verstappen (Red Bull) achieved the ‘pole position’ of the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix by signing the best time in the qualifying session this Saturday, ahead of the Spanish veteran Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin), second of the day

For Verstappen, current double world champion and overall leader this season, it will be his fourth pole position in 2023 out of a possible six and the first of his entire career in Monaco.

“In qualifying you have to give everything, you have to take risks, you have to give everything for everything,” Verstappen declared.

They were not just words because he had just shown it on the asphalt, where he was fifth in the final part of the session, before achieving a fast lap in which he touched the safety barriers twice… to get 84 thousandths of a second off advantage over Alonso, who was deprived of pole position.

Frenchman Esteban Ocon (Alpine) will start from the second row on Sunday, third, and Spanish Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), who will start fourth after his teammate Charles Leclerc, who had been third, was penalized with three positions on the grid. for having annoyed the British Lando Norris (McLaren).

“I am not satisfied with this third position, but on the other hand we have to take into account our situation with the car,” said Leclerc, before knowing his penalty.

Ocon was happier, the surprise of the day, who held “a very good qualifying session” that “gives hope” of a good score on Sunday in the race, according to what he told Canal+ television in his country.

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Grid positions are especially important in Monaco, where the race takes place on a street circuit with narrow roads that make overtaking difficult.

Sergio Pérez, against a wall

Verstappen aspires to a second victory in the emblematic Monegasque Grand Prix, after the one achieved in 2021.

Last year the victory in the Principality went to his Mexican teammate from Red Bull, Sergio Pérez, in a race in which Verstappen had to settle for a third position.

‘Checo’ Pérez was the big loser this Saturday. The Mexican driver, second in the World Cup 14 points behind his teammate Verstappen, went into a wall in the first round of the qualifying session (Q1), damaging his car. On Sunday he will start from the back of the grid.

“It’s a big mistake on my part, I’m very sorry for the team. I’m really disappointed with myself. Tomorrow it will be very difficult to achieve something,” he lamented.

Alonso, third, 30 points behind Pérez, has a good chance on Sunday in the fight for that virtual runner-up position.

The Monaco Grand Prix, a historic F1 event, is the occasion chosen by several teams, such as Mercedes, to test or present various improvements, which were initially expected for last weekend in Emilia-Romagna. So it couldn’t be because of the floods in that Italian region.

On Sunday, at 1:00 p.m. GMT, their drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell will start fifth and eighth on the grid.

Mercedes is currently third in the constructors’ World Championship standings, ahead of Ferrari but behind Red Bull and the breakout team at the start of the season, Aston Martin.

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