Hamilton takes pole and Leclerc out in spectacular Monaco qualifying shoot-out!

25-05-2019 14:13 | Updated: 25-05-2019 15:30
by Nicolás Quarles van Ufford
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Hamilton takes pole and Leclerc out in spectacular Monaco qualifying shoot-out!

Lewis Hamilton has taken pole position in Monaco, as the reigning champion narrowly beat out his teammate Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull's Max Verstappen to start the Monaco Grand Prix from first place as home driver Charles Leclerc went out in Q1.

It's the sixth front-row lock-out of the season for Mercedes, who have previously struggled for one-lap performance at Monaco but looked dominant throughout qualifying.

Hamilton has beaten Bottas again after being beaten by his teammate for three straight times, as the 34-year-old is looking for his third win in the Principality in his F1 career.

The story of the day came out of the paddock of Ferrari, though, as Leclerc crashed out of Q1 as the 21-year-old driver finished in P16, much to his own annoyance.

Q1

In the first of the three qualifying rounds, Mercedes and Red Bull looked right on par. Bottas led the pack, but a mere 6 hundredths of a second separated him and Verstappen in P3, with Gasly following closely in P4. 

Another thing that became apparent is that Racing Point, together with Williams, didn't have the pace to compete. Lance Stroll made it 10 straight times without getting out of Q1, and still has never made it out of Q1 in Monaco.

However, the shock of the day came at Ferrari. While everyone was fixated on Vettel, who was in the elimination zone in the final few minutes before he improved, Leclerc was dropping like a stone and eventually got into the elimination zone. The Monegasque didn't have time for another lap either, meaning he will just have to start from P16 tomorrow. What a massive shock! This was supposed to be his best weekend in front of his home fans! Just seven tenths between him and the quickest lap in Q1, highlighting the small margins.

Q2

In Q2, none of the Big Three teams dared to run on the medium compound, as margins in Monaco are simply too small. Again, it was Mercedes topping the time tables, with Bottas leading Hamilton this time. Until Verstappen came along, that is, as the Dutchman put in a 1:10.618 to leave the Silver Arrows behind him. Vettel followed in fourth.

In the elimination zone, Alfa Romeo couldn't squeeze out a good enough lap, as they manned the last two places of the session, with the Haas of Romain Grosjean in P13. The Frenchman claimed his hot lap got interrupted, as he finished seven tenths slower than teammate Kevin Magnussen, who topped the midfield in P5. 

The other two drivers who missed out on the shoot-out were Lando Norris and Nico Hülkenberg in P12 and P11 respectively, as they both couldn't replicate their teammates' form to get into Q3.

Q3 

Q3 in Monaco is widely regarded as one of the best moments on the Formula 1 calendar, as it highlights the best drivers in the world in the quickest cars in the world driving on the absolute limit without an inch of margin on this punishing track. This session didn't disappoint either.

Bottas took first place after the first run of the drivers, beating Hamilton by two-tenths of a second with a rapid 1:10.252. Verstappen was off by almost four-tenths of a second, and Vettel over half a second.

The second run saw Hamilton improve on his time significantly, beating Bottas by a tenth with a whopping 1:10.1. Bottas couldn't beat it, nor could Verstappen or Vettel, who both made small mistakes during their final runs.

It's the first pole position for Hamilton since Australia, the first Grand Prix weekend of the season.

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