Hamilton grabs Monaco pole with last minute lap record

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Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time around the streets of Monaco and is set to start from pole position in tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix. The Championship leader thereby pipped team mate Bottas. Max Verstappen was third quickest.

As expected around Monaco, the track was immediately extremely busy, given that for everyone, a clear stretch of track is extremely difficult to find. A the first minutes of Q1 progressed, it was clear that conditions continued to improve, and that tumbling times would result in a tricky situation towards the end of the session.

Max Verstappen was the first serious candidate topping the times, but later on, it was Hamiton and eventually Bottas who improved on that. For Bottas, that necessary lap came 3 minutes from the end.

At that time, Vettel ended up in a dreadful situation in the standings, and 30s from the end, the German was still out of Q2 with only the 16th fastest time. An outright fastest lap saw Vettel secure a spot in Q2, but at the cost of Leclerc. The home hero became the victim of a string of errors at Ferrari, the most important being a delay due to the team forgetting to weigh his car. This saw Leclerc sitting in the pits while he got eliminated by his own team mate.

In Q2, Mercedes immediately took control of the session as both Bottas and Hamilton put their cars on top of the timesheet after just a few minutes of running. Verstappen slotted into third, and Vettel fourth. Kvyat and Gasly were well in the mix as well, with also both Renaults in the top ten after the first series of runs.

Everybody but Vettel ran again later on in the session, resulting in Verstappen going fastest in 1:10.618, a little less than a tenth quicker than Bottas, and two tenths quicker than Hamilton.

As Magnussen moved up into 5th, Grosjean was eliminated and was very angry at the team when returning back to the pits. Similarly, Renault and McLaren saw one car progress into Q3, leaving Hulkenberg and Norris out in 11th and 12th.

In Q3, the Toro Rosso drivers were the first to set a time, with Kvyat the fastest of them with a lap in 1:12.053. Bottas was up next, going fastest with a new lap record in 1:10.252. Verstappen, Vettel, Gasly and Magnussen failed to improve on the Finn. Hamilton came closest but he too missed a few tenths to beat his team mate.

5 minutes from the end, as the top 5 were still coming into the pits to prepare for the next laps, Magnussen, Sainz, Ricciardo and both Toro Rossos went out for their second outing.

The second series of flying laps didn’t provide many improvements, with Verstappen, Bottas and Vettel all going slower than before. However, Lewis Hamilton did managed to find some improvements, or rather quite a lot, mainly thanks to the first sector to end up 0.086s up on Bottas to take pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Results to follow…

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