Defending Formula 1 champion Max Verstappen made a brilliant final lap to take pole position at the Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday and denied Aston Martin veteran Fernando Alonso’s first title in 11 years. year.
Verstappen called his first pole at Monaco “very lovely” but did nothing to cheer for his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez as last year’s race winner was knocked out early.
Alpine’s Esteban Ocon took a surprising lead near the end of the session before 41-year-old Alonso returned to the lead as he chased the first post since the 2012 German GP, when he was still in the competition. fight for Ferrari.
But Verstappen had other ideas as he glided through the walls of the sinewy street to beat Alonso’s time of just 0.084 seconds and claim his fourth milestone of the season and 23rd of his career.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is chasing a third straight column in Monaco but has qualified in third place, 0.106 behind Verstappen. Ocon finished in fourth place and Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari’s is fifth ahead of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes.
Regarded as one of F1’s best drivers on the street, Perez lost control of the rear when he entered Sainte-Devote too quickly, crashing into a fence and bursting a left tire.
His Red Bull skidded across the track, forcing several cars to move around it before the crane picked it up and the debris cleared.
Leclerc had to circle around Sainz at the end of Q1, while Lewis Hamilton – who had a collision near the end of his third and final training session early on Saturday – was left late to move into Q2 on a new set of soft tyres.
Hamilton struggled with his rear suspension and complained about his tires in Q2, leaving it late again to squeeze into Q3 on the final lap.
“This car is difficult to drive,” Hamilton said on team radio.
Alonso started the third quarter with the fastest time and set the stage for a thrilling end.
“I’m pushing like an animal,” he said on team radio.
He came very close, but the Spain veteran was well positioned on Sunday to push for his first win since 2013.