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  • Writer's pictureBen Waterworth

Verstappen steals Monaco pole in qualifying of the season contender

They say the race is won in Monaco on a Saturday and if that is true, then we might've seen the best 'race' of the F1 season in 2023 so far.


An incredible qualifying filled with action all around saw Max Verstappen steal pole position at the death from Fernando Alonso, with the Dutchman pulling out an incredible third sector to take his first ever pole around the streets of Monaco.


The sentimental favourite Alonso looked to have secured his first pole in over a decade with a stunning lap of 1.11.449, with Verstappen more than 2 tenths behind the Aston Martin driver heading into the final sector.


But you can never write off the reigning two-time World Champion as he pulled out the time needed while literally banging off the walls to secure his 23rd career pole, ironically putting him one ahead of Alonso's 22 career poles.


The dramatic end of Q3 was only enhanced further by two stunning laps by the drivers lining up in 3rd & 4th; Charles Leclerc & Estabon Ocon.


Leclerc drove a stunning lap at the death to sit in provisional pole and looked set to deliver Ferrari a much needed boost of confidence and the home town hero his third consecutive pole around the streets he grew up on. It was a lap that bumped down the surprise packet of the Alpine of Ocon, who perhaps set the biggest shock of the session with his provisional pole time with only a few minutes remaining.


Despite the fact that neither driver did enough for the pole, they will be very satisfied with their starting positions.

(Photo by Business Insider)


Carlos Sainz wasn't able to match the pace of his Ferrari teammate and will start in 5th, ahead of the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and the second Alpine of Pierre Gasly. George Russell, Yuki Tsunoda and Lando Norris round out the rest of the top 10. Aussie Oscar Piastri will start in 11th.


Outside of the dramatic final Q3 session, the other big talking points were Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll, with both unable to capitalise on the pace of their teammates.


For Perez, the reigning Monaco champ, a crash in Q1 ended his qualifying session and he will line up last on the grid, an extra disappointment for the street circuit specialist.


Stroll meanwhile aborted a fast lap in Q2 after being the faster of the Aston Martins in Q1, setting a time only good enough for 14th. He may also face further scrutiny by the stewards ahead of the race after missing a weighbridge inspection during Q2 which saw his team work on his car briefly before pushing him back towards the inspection zone.


With the excitement of qualifying over, all eyes will turn back to Monaco for the race. With the chance of rain and the knowledge that starting second has been more lucky for a win than first in the last decade, could we finally have our first non-Red Bull winner in 2023 and see Fernando Alonso finally break his decade long wait for a win in F1? Aussie eyes will be able to find out at 11pm AEST tonight.


QUALIFYING TIMES

1 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull 1:11.365

2 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +0.084

3 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.106

4 Esteban OCON Alpine +0.188

5 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +0.265

6 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +0.360

7 Pierre GASLY Alpine +0.568

8 George RUSSELL Mercedes +0.599

9 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +0.717

10 Lando NORRIS McLaren +0.889

11 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren 1:12.395

12 Nyck DE VRIES AlphaTauri +0.033

13 Alexander ALBON Williams +0.132

14 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +0.228

15 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +0.230

16 Logan SARGEANT Williams 1:13.113

17 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas +0.157

18 Nico HULKENBERG Haas +0.166

19 ZHOU Guanyu Alfa Romeo +0.410

20 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull +0.737

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