Fernando Alonso, Max Verstappen, Monaco, 2023

Verstappen pips Alonso to take Monaco Grand Prix pole in qualifying thriller

2023 Monaco Grand Prix qualifying

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Max Verstappen denied Fernando Alonso pole position by just 0.084s after a thrilling qualifying session for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Alonso looked as though he may be about to secure his first pole position since 2012 until Verstappen managed to snatch it from him by less than a tenth. Charles Leclerc qualified third but is under investigation by the stewards for impeding Lando Norris at the end of Q3.


Conditions could hardly have been better for drivers as the opening phase of qualifying got underway. After crashing at the end of third practice, Lewis Hamilton emerged from the pit lane alongside team mate George Russell soon after the session began, the Mercedes mechanics having successfully repaired the damage to his W14.

Verstappen was the first driver to set a lap time under 1’14, posting a 1’13.784 to go straight to the top of the times. Team mate Sergio Perez was just over half a tenth slower in second place, followed by the Aston Martins of Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll in third and fourth after their first runs.

The two McLarens went quickest of all, with Lando Norris putting in a 1’13.485 to go quickest and team mate Oscar Piastri moving to second. But as Perez began his next flying lap, he lost the rear of his car on the entrance to Sante Devote, sliding into the barrier and destroying the left-rear suspension on his car. The session was immediately red-flagged as Perez climbed out of his car unhurt.

Once the crashed Red Bull was cleared, the session resumed with 11 minutes still remaining. The field filtered back out onto the circuit, with Verstappen immediately going significantly quicker, jumping back to the top of the times with a 1’13.038 as Russell moved second, two tenths behind the Red Bull.

Alonso then took over the top spot, becoming the first driver into the 1’12s. The two Alpines of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly also beat Verstappen’s time, dropping the sole remaining Red Bull down to fourth. Verstappen responded with a 1’12.644 to take back the top spot, a quarter of a second quicker than Alonso’s previous best.

With three minutes remaining, the four drivers in danger of joining Perez in elimination were Zhou Guanyu, Logan Sargeant and the two Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg. Both Haas drivers improved to drop both Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz Jnr into the drop zone, with Hamilton sitting on the bubble in 15th. Hamilton tried to improve but a mistake at the harbour chicane ruined a lap that looked likely to improve, giving him only one final opportunity to do so.

The chequered flag flew and Bottas improved to tenth, dropping Hamilton into danger in 17th. Sainz managed to get himself free on his final lap, with Hamilton also improving at the death to avoid an early exit. That dropped the two Haas drivers back into elimination, while Zhou also could not get himself safe and was out in 19th. Sargeant did improve on his final effort, but not by enough. He finished as the first driver eliminated in 16th.

Q1 result

11Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’12.38612
222Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’12.6420.25613
323Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW451’12.7060.32013
455Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-231’12.7170.33112
518Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’12.7220.33612
663George RussellMercedesW141’12.7690.38312
744Lewis HamiltonMercedesW141’12.8720.48613
84Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’12.8770.49112
914Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’12.8860.50010
1016Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’12.9120.52611
1131Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5231’12.9670.58112
1281Oscar PiastriMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’13.0060.62012
1310Pierre GaslyAlpine-RenaultA5231’13.0330.64712
1477Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’13.0380.65213
1521Nyck de VriesAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’13.0540.66811
162Logan SargeantWilliams-MercedesFW451’13.1130.72713
1720Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-231’13.2700.8849
1827Nico HulkenbergHaas-FerrariVF-231’13.2790.8938
1924Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’13.5231.13713
2011Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’13.8501.4644

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Verstappen and the Mercedes pair were first out of the pits as the second qualifying session got underway, soon joined by the Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz. The sole remaining Red Bull driver set the initial benchmark time with a 1’12.038, which neither Russell nor Hamilton could get within seven tenths of.

Leclerc fared better on his first run, but was still over three tenths behind the Red Bull. Sainz beat his team mate’s first attempt by half a tenth, but both Ferraris were displaced by the two Alpines of Gasly and Ocon, who were then split themselves by Alonso’s Aston Martin.

The two Mercedes quickly fell to the edge of the top ten, with Hamilton only able to improve to ninth place on his second push lap, while Russell dropped to 11th after failing to improve on his second effort. Verstappen had no such difficulties and broke into the 1’11s for the first time to reaffirm his position at the top of the times.

Russell chopped seven tenths off his personal best time to jump from 11th to third, while Mercedes team mate Hamilton was only able to improve by one position to tenth. With under three minutes remaining, Yuki Tsunoda – who lost an early effort due to a track limits infringement – bumped Hamilton into danger by improving, while Bottas, Alexander Albon, Stroll and Nyck de Vries were also needing to find time to avoid elimination.

Norris hit the barriers on the exit of the harbour chicane, damaging his McLaren which resulted in him hitting the barriers a second time at Tabac. He recovered to the pits, while the field queued in the final sector to prepare for their final runs.

Despite cool tyres and an unremarkable first sector, Hamilton improved over the final two sectors to jump to fifth behind team mate Russell, knocking Oscar Piastri down into elimination.

The McLaren driver would be the first car knocked out of Q2, joined by De Vries and Albon. Stroll’s Aston Martin dropped out in 14th – he fell into the bottom five after his first run, then lost time in the pits when he failed to stop at the weigh bridge when instructed to and had to be pushed back. He made it out for a final effort but was unable to join his team mate in the final 10, and ended Q2 with only Bottas’ Alfa Romeo behind him.

Q2 result

11Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’11.90821
216Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’12.1030.19520
314Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’12.1070.19919
463George RussellMercedesW141’12.1510.24322
544Lewis HamiltonMercedesW141’12.1560.24824
610Pierre GaslyAlpine-RenaultA5231’12.1690.26119
755Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-231’12.2100.30222
831Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5231’12.2480.34020
922Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’12.2490.34121
104Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’12.3770.46919
1181Oscar PiastriMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’12.3950.48722
1221Nyck de VriesAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’12.4280.52020
1323Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW451’12.5270.61919
1418Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’12.6230.71519
1577Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’12.6250.71722

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Verstappen was once again the first car out on the track as the most important qualifying phase of the entire season began. Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes all opted for fresh soft tyres for their first runs of the session, with Verstappen setting a target time of 1’12.102 – slower than he had achieved in Q2.

Alonso immediately jumped into provisional pole with a 1’11.706, almost four tenths faster than Verstappen. Then it was the turn of the Ferraris, but neither could beat the Aston Martin with their first runs, with Sainz closest of the pair by just 0.029s, while Leclerc was only half a tenth from Alonso.

Hamilton could only manage seventh with his first run, while Russell’s first attempt of the top ten shootout put him in fourth, ahead of Verstappen but a quarter of a second behind Alonso’s provisional pole time.

As most of his rivals returned to the pits, Verstappen remained out on his used tyres and attempted a second push lap. He managed to post a 1’11.654 to claim provisional pole by just 0.052s, while Hamilton moved up to third in the Mercedes.

Then, with just over three minutes remaining, Ocon unleashed a stunning lap to put his Alpine on top, a tenth of a second ahead of Verstappen. Ferrari and Aston Martin returned to the circuit on another new set of soft tyres, with Leclerc taking provisional pole with a 1’11.471. Sainz failed to match his team mate, but Alonso managed to go even faster than Leclerc to take pole by just 0.022s.

Only Verstappen could deny Alonso his first pole for many years as the chequered flag flew. Despite being slower than the Aston Martin over the first two sectors, Verstappen managed to just pip Alonso by just under a tenth to secure pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Leclerc was third in the Ferrari, but was involved in an incident in the tunnel when he appeared to impede Norris. The stewards said they will investigate it after the session.

Ocon split the Ferraris in fourth place, ahead of Sainz and Hamilton sixth. Pierre Gasly will line up seventh ahead of Russell in eighth, with Tsunoda in ninth. Norris qualified in tenth after his McLaren mechanics successfully fixed the damage he sustained in Q2 and sent him out for a single run towards the end of the session.

Q3 result

11Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’11.36530
214Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’11.4490.08425
316Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’11.4710.10626
431Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5231’11.5530.18826
555Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-231’11.6300.26528
644Lewis HamiltonMercedesW141’11.7250.36030
710Pierre GaslyAlpine-RenaultA5231’11.9330.56825
863George RussellMercedesW141’11.9640.59929
922Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’12.0820.71729
104Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’12.2540.88923

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2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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    Author information

    Will Wood
    Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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    61 comments on “Verstappen pips Alonso to take Monaco Grand Prix pole in qualifying thriller”

    1. What is the regular penalty for impeding, ie what could it cost Leclerc? Gridplaces??

      1. 3 places

        1. And thats what was delt.

    2. Ouaou, what Max did in the last 3 turns was unbelievable. Impressive gas control and huge respect from me really.
      Kudos to the old fart Alonso for his performance.

      We all say Monaco is boring but what a qual what a qual was that really, i loved it and no matter what will happen in the race, in the rating i will start from 7 and up this time.

      1. People say the race is boring, but that Monaco is the most exciting qualifying of the year.

      2. Quali in Monaco never dissapoint it’s the race who is the problem but with rain we will see….

        1. The race isn’t the problem. The race is exactly WHY the qualifying is so good. It’s the highest stakes qualifying of the year. The qualifying would be utterly ruined if they decided to butcher the track chasing a ‘good race’

          1. The race has sone nice strategic work . But a timingscreen is really needed. Wouldnt watch without

    3. Alonso, 42 in July, aging like fine wine. Still, if he was 32yo Alonso, he’d likely be on pole. Ifs and buts aren’t worth a damn though. If we get the predicted rain tomorrow (and hopefully a bit heavier than predicted), we might actually get an interesting Monaco race rather than just an interesting qualifying.

    4. Leclerc will most certainly lose at least three places (the standard for impeding in qualifying), given how clear-cut the situation is & that definitely affected Norris’ chances for at least P9.
      Xavier mightn’t have warned him, but still, a driver always also has a responsibility in these situations by staying off the racing line, etc.
      He was right in the middle at a blind-ish curve, so unnecessarily risky close-call with the speed difference.

    5. Great qualy, too bad the king of the streets didn’t show up

      1. Schumacher?

    6. Pretty entertaining session, i was not expecting that.
      Unfortunately, that’s likely to be the most interersting point of the weekend.

    7. RandomMallard
      27th May 2023, 16:43

      Fantastic session. Haven’t been on the edge of my seat (sofa) for any other session in 2023 so Monaco can at least do something right…

      Great lap from Max, disappointed Alonso couldn’t have got the pole though. Fantastic job from Ocon though to get to P4, and that could still become P3 if Leclerc gets a penalty.

    8. Let’s talk about what Checo was thinking trying to take T1 at supernatural speed in Q3. An example of not using any strategic thinking.

    9. Unpredictable results, multiple teams having a shot, drivers having to make the difference. Who would think this is what takes for F1 to be exciting? Anyway, tomorrow we resume normal operations.

      1. Unpredictable? Really? The cars who’ve shared the most podiums this season being 1-3. I think 99% of people predicted a Verstappen pole with Alonso and Leclerc in the running. Ocon was a surprise in P4 but the rest of the top 5 is extremely predictable.

        1. Agreed; the gaps were small, but that’s normal on a much shorter track. It also happens in Brazil and Austria.

          Prior to Monaco, the average grid of the season had Alonso lead Leclerc, Sainz, and the two Red Bulls (even with their reliability issues in qualifying) ahead of the two Mercedes. The main stand-out here in Monaco was Alpine, which was nice to see, and with Ocon obviously doing a tad better than Gasly.

        2. Ocon on 3 is a weird one tho. But… its monaco. Not the cars but the drivers are playing the biggest part here

    10. The new camera angles certainly added to the excitement.

      1. Charlie Racing
        27th May 2023, 19:52

        That angle up to the RB floor too 🙃

      2. Did you notive the difference between the Mercedes floor i.c.w. Red Bull floor? Now everyone seen that i expect a revision of many floors!

    11. That last sector was unreal, I kneel to Max.

      1. I disagree. Max is supposidly the faster driver in the fastest car this year yet around a track like Monaco which is all about driver skill he only pipped an aging Fernando by 0.084s. Max is fast but why would you kneel to him?

        1. Lots of ppl kneel for sir lewis, just for doing that what you described. Its not so weird ppl do the same for sir Max

    12. To think people argue for Monaco to be dropped from the calender.

      1. Let’s wait until tomorrow. I’m sure you’ll feel differently after 70 laps of nothing.

        1. It’s the best Saturday of the year by a mile. Variety is spice of life. So no I won’t feel any different. It’s the best track to appreciate the drivers on.

          1. Absolutely. Monaco qualifying is better than a lot of the races we’ll see this year.

            I’ll watch some highlights of the race tomorrow during the build up to the Indy 500.

        2. No, Monaco is one of the classic tracks that must always be on the calendar for Formula 1 to remain Formula 1.

          Can’t lose:

          There are other tracks I love, but the above are the core tracks

          1. Except we probably will lose some of them. Both Silverstone and Spa have teetered on the edge of disappearing multiple times. Other classic tracks have already dropped off the calendar. When new tracks can get massive government backing, it won’t be long before the classics are priced off the calendar.

            1. Yes, the joy of state sponsored races artificially inflating the value of hosting a Grand Prix pricing actual events out of the market. We should all bear this in mind when moaning about increasing ticket prices. Private events have to recoup their investment somehow.

            2. I fear you are right. It will be city street tracks all over the world, lined with advertising boards. That’s when the F1 we knew will be dead.

        3. Add a timing screen to your setup and che k out strategies. It makes it way better

      2. Exactly. That was a great qualifying session. I’m probably in the minority here but I would take Monaco over most of the current tracks on the calendar, even if sundays can be a little dull. Seeing F1 cars round those streets is something we have to keep.

        1. It was more exciting then any race this season, I am not joking. It’s a lesson in stakes, heritage and simplicity.

          1. While I agree that those qualifying was more exciting than any race so far this year, I think that’s much more of an indictment of this season than anything else.

            They should cancel the race in Monaco and just award points based on qualifying. That way we wouldn’t need the whole hour and a half procession to see the inevitable result.

            1. No we shouldn’t. F1 has plenty of classic moments in the races. Pit stops are generally much higher risk. There’s crash risk, weather risk etc… and even the odd lunge.

      3. Despite this exceptional Saturday, I hold my opinion that in most years, the whole Monaco GP is a wasted weekend with much more parade than racing. I don’t mean necessarily that it should be dropped altogether, but such a special track should need a special format.

    13. Great to really see how close or even over the Edge the driving was today. On most circuits you don’t really see the cars going flat out. Too bad tomorrow will be a parade (probably…).

    14. Liberty have introduced plenty of things I didn’t think were necessary, but the lick of paint and new angles at Monaco I think look great.

      1. Just skip the awefull helmet cams and we’re golden :)

    15. Thought Max was beat in all honesty. Pretty amazing final sector. Ooft. Great to see Alonso up there, if age has made him weaker then my god.. I’m not seeing it. Great to see how I’m his element he is and how happy. Good times.

      Probably be a dull race tomorrow but you never know what might happen.

      1. *great to see him in his element…

      2. He just genuinely looks like he’s having fun doesn’t he? I’m so glad he’s back and at the sharp end of the field.

    16. Alonso almost emulating Schumi’s 2012 qualifying was great. Hard to believe that was already 11 years ago.

      1. Yes, and the commentators said alonso’s last pole was also at some point in 2012, so that’s also ages ago, 175 races ago they said!

    17. GOATstappen 🐐

    18. Simply Sennesque. The way Max caressed those barriers to get the pole. Just WOW !

      1. Then alonso, ocon and leclerc were sennaesque too lol. Look how close the times are unlike Senna at monaco

    19. This was the best Quali session for a good while. Superb from all drivers…

    20. For the spectators on circuit or on tv it probably is boring, for the drivers it is the most intense and unforgiving circuit, and they love it. From Nr 1 to nr 20. So let them have their fun too.

      1. I still can’t fathom how F1 in Monaco can be considered boring. I find it absolutely thrilling. There’s just no margin for even the tiniest error as Norris and Perez showed today. The speed through the swimming pool is simply phenomenal!

        1. That’s true in qualifying, but not really in the race. It’s unnecessary for the drivers to get that close to the limit on the race, because nobody is going to get past you on track even if you’re driving well within your limits.

    21. Best qualy of the year!
      What a joy!

    22. There’s something about that Red Bull’s rear, and it’s not the floor. Pretty stunning to pull that much of an advantage in just a tiny sector of the track.

      The Tabac-Swimming Pool section is excellently captured on tv. But other than that, this track is not what F1 cars were made for and it just ends up looking a bit silly to see them mucking around around these slow and narrow corners. Still, it’s a unique challenge so I suppose that’s fair enough.

    23. Monaco qualy is often more exciting than the race, maybe they should redo it as a f1 time attack event instead:)

    24. Was indeed an interesting quali but I had the feeling 2 tenths margin before verstappen’s last lap wouldn’t have been enough to beat him, because ocon was slightly faster than leclerc on last sector, he had the purple until verstappen came there the last time, and leclerc was significantly faster than alonso, so 2 tenths margin by the 2nd sector didn’t feel enough, just felt like having a chance at pole for alonso, seeing as verstappen has been strong all weekend on last sector, and indeed. A shame cause would’ve been interesting to have verstappen try to overtake alonso\leclerc here, the red bull so far was significantly stronger in race pace.

    25. Just reading the headlines give the impression many drivers have forgotten how to drive. I wonder why that is. Is Monaco shrinking? :-)

    26. Wow! What an incredible qualy! That final sector by Max was nuts! I thought Alonso had it in the bag. We’ll see what he can do at the start.

    27. Well done Ocon by the way. An incredible lap.
      Will we ever have these cars regulated to the point where a driver can make a difference like we sometimes see at Monaco?

    Comments are closed.