F1: Charles Leclerc claims Monaco pole position after Sergio Perez crashes out in chaotic end to qualifying

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 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Charles Leclerc took pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix with Max Verstappen languishing in fourth place after a chaotic end to qualifying on Saturday.

Sergio Perez spun into the barriers at Portier in the final minute of Q3, and found Carlos Sainz sliding into him moments later as the title contenders’ two teammates finished the session by climbing out of their cars at the entrance of Monte Carlo’s famous tunnel section.

Verstappen was next to arrive and stopped in time to witness Perez’s wreckage blocking his chances of taking first place on Sunday’s grid, around a circuit notoriously difficult to overtake on.

The incident meant Ferrari secured a front-row lockout with Sainz second and just over two-tenths of a second behind Leclerc - who nonetheless was improving on a hot lap having already secured provisional pole.

Perez, who backed up Verstappen in a Red Bull one-two in Barcelona a week ago, was left in third with Verstappen fourth and only seven hundredths of a second off the front row.

The early end to qualifying meant a series of what-ifs lay further down the timesheet, although not for Lando Norris who led his McLaren safely into fifth place. That was in contrast to Daniel Ricciardo’s as his woes continued with just 14th on the grid.

George Russell put his Mercedes sixth ahead of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton as the seven-time world champion battled overheating rear tyres in another difficult session in his team’s fightback.

In Q1, a controversial red flag was brought out after Yuki Tsunoda punctured his tyre clipping the barrier at the Nouvelle Chicane. The AlphaTauri made it home comfortably and yet, ironically, the session was halted only moments before Pierre Gasly completed his hot lap.

In the mayhem of the final two-minute shootout after the restart, Gasly failed to make the chequered flag to go again and was dumped out of qualifying to start the race in 17th.

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