The Qualifying session in Monaco kept every Formula 1 fan on tenterhooks, as Scuderia Ferrari showed its potential already on Thursday, during the first free practices sessions. For the first time, more than two teams were competing for pole, and in Monaco it's fundamental to be first in order to fight for the win.
The Qualifying session revealed the truth, as Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz kept on clocking fastest laps over fastest lap, fighting with Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas.
It was Charles Leclerc, in the end, the one who conquered pole, but in a very unusual way: the Monegasque clocked a fastest time of 1.10.346s; with two minutes left on the clock, Leclerc tried to improve himself, together with Max Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas and team mate Carlos Sainz, but as he tried to push the limits, he took the kerb at the Swimming Pool, causing the red flag, and then the end of the session, and clinching pole, with the disappointment of all his rivals.
Chalres Leclerc found himself celebrating with all Ferrari fans, while stewards brought his damaged car back to the pits: it is still unclear wheter his car will need a new gearbox or not. If that it the case, Leclerc will receive a 5 place penalty, yielding his pole position to Max Verstappen.
All Ferrari fans, and the team as well, are waiting to understand if Leclerc will keep his pole position: in a statement, the Maranello team revealed that an initial inspection of the gearbox in the SF21 number 16 has not revealed any serious damage. Further checks will be carried out tomorrow, to decide if the same gearbox can be used in the race.
Leclerc must wait to fully celebrate the pole position, something that Ferrari misses since Mexico '19, where Leclerc himself clocked the fastest time overall. Charles is the first Monegasque to clinche pole position in his hometown: Leclerc paid homage to Louis Chiron, a Monegasque who finished on pole in 1936, before Formula 1 even existed.
That pole position lap ⏱ @Charles_Leclerc— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) May 22, 2021
Just a Monegasque driver setting his first ever #F1 pole in Monaco wearing a helmet celebrating Louis Chiron 🇲🇨😍 #essereFerrari 🔴 #MonacoGPpic.twitter.com/zXSaqyDteZ
"Mixed feelings today - Leclerc revealed - 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 - the Monegasque continued - 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".