“It’s a great challenge and we will try to put everything together to get a good result” – Charles Leclerc
The grid for the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix was decided in the final shootout this afternoon with Charles Leclerc taking pole position after a lap in 1:10.346s.
Lining up in P2 will be Red Bull’s Verstappen after a desperate attempt to improve his time which ended prematurely when the session was red-flagged – he remained 0.230s off the pace.
P3 will be filled by the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, followed by the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz taking off from P4, and McLaren’s Lando Norris will start in fifth.
Here’s what the top five had to say ahead of tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix:
P1 – Charles Leclerc – Ferrari
“Mixed feelings today. On the one hand, being on pole here is amazing. I was quite happy with my fastest lap in Q3. The first sector wasn’t ideal, but in the second and third, I put it together.
“I knew I could do better but I pushed too hard on my final lap trying to improve. Unfortunately, I hit the wall, and now all we can do is keep our fingers crossed and hope that the damage won’t result in a penalty.
“Of course, it is encouraging to see our performance, but I believe that it’s a bit of a one-off as the track suits the characteristics of our SF21 really well. That’s why we were so competitive today. We have to keep in mind that we are still not at the level of the two teams leading the championship, but for now, it does feel great to have extracted the maximum today.
“Whatever the outcome, I will give my all tomorrow. It feels great to be at home and to see all the fans around the track. It’s Monaco, it’s very unpredictable, and also challenging for us drivers, especially in the race with so many laps.
“It’s a great challenge and we will try to put everything together to get a good result.”
P2 – Max Verstappen – Red Bull
“Qualifying around here is a lot of fun. I did a decent first lap in Q3 but the tyres weren’t quite in the window and I knew it was going to come down to the last run.
“My last lap felt really good as I was going into the tunnel, but because of the red flag, I couldn’t finish it which was frustrating as I felt so comfortable in the car and I knew pole position was on.
“Obviously Charles is driving very well so I knew it would be tight but everyone back at the factory and here at the track has done an amazing job to get the car to where it is now, especially after we struggled so much on Thursday.”
P3 – Valtteri Bottas – Mercedes
“On Thursday and even in practice this morning, I didn’t have the greatest feeling in the car – we were still struggling with the tyre warm-up and mechanically, the car just isn’t made for tracks like this.
“But I think we maximised everything set-up wise for Quali, we made some changes and I felt comfortable.
“As qualifying progressed, I saw that we had a chance for pole position so it’s a shame I never got to finish the last run – I guess we’ll never find out if it was enough but it was a good lap up until the red flag, I was a tenth or two up.
“It is great to see many teams out there competing at the front, it’s exciting and we are all pushing so much on the track, trying to make every small gain we can. I am sure tomorrow will be a tight battle.”
P4 – Carlos Sainz – Ferrari
“Today was very frustrating for me. I’ve been driving well all weekend and I was very strong in qualifying. I felt confident with the car and I had a very strong pace.
“Unfortunately, my last attempt was a bit compromised with traffic during the preparation lap and then I didn’t have the chance to finish the flying lap due to the red flag. It was my first chance to put it on pole here in Monaco and lining up P4 is really frustrating. I’m not happy.
“Tomorrow it will be tough to overtake, but I will do my best and I will try to maximize our chances. Well done to the team for giving us a strong car to fight up there today.”
P5 – Lando Norris – McLaren
“Really good qualifying – I’m very pleased to be P5. We were only two tenths off pole and just half a tenth off P2 – which isn’t a lot – so it was really close.
“But I feel like I did a good lap and I don’t think there was anything more in it. I’m really happy – although knowing that by doing something different you could’ve maybe gained that half a tenth and quite a few positions is tough, but I’m still pleased with how we did. It was a good day.
“It’s been a good weekend for us, and we extracted everything we could out of the car. On my final Q3 lap especially, we took quite a few risks, but it all paid off and it was definitely one of the best laps I’ve done in my career.
“We did a good job today as a team and we just need to try to finish it off tomorrow.”
Lights out in Monaco on Sunday, May 23 is at 2:00 pm Irish time.