So yes, it was a fairly good session with lots of tension but right at the moment of climax, well, it turned into an anti-climax, unfortunately. Still, a Ferrari on pole was unexpected heading into this weekend and indeed the season. There was some doubt over whether his crash would have necessitated a gearbox change and thus a grid penalty but Ferrari have said this morning that they will not be changing it. So Leclerc starts on pole in his home race.
Could anyone have beaten Leclerc’s time? Yes, almost certainly. Verstappen and Bottas were both on good laps when the red flag was called and had looked in decent form. Hamilton would have had another crack but – strangely and frankly – he looked so far off the pace that much beyond fifth seemed unlikely.
Verstappen was clearly disappointed but, on the whole, starting five places ahead of Hamilton on a track where it is nearly impossible to overtake and very difficult to make much progress, is a positive. Should the two championship rivals finish where they start then Hamilton’s lead will be down to between one and three points, depending on who gets the fastest lap point.
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Hamilton’s best chance of making up places is through strategy and you may see something a bit unusual from him today to try and make up as many places as possible. But it could be difficult and he has not really looked comfortable with his car all weekend.
The race begins at 2pm BST and we will be here for all the build-up, live updates and reaction from, hopefully, an interesting Monaco Grand Prix.
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