Australian Daniel Ricciardo will start from 14th place at Sunday night’s Monaco Grand Prix (AEST) after endured another disappointing qualifying session.
A day after crashing into the guardrails in practice, Ricciardo’s nightmare in Monaco continued when he was eliminated after two laps in Q2.
It was Ricciardo’s McLaren teammate Lando Norris who again finished best in qualifying in fifth.
“FP3 (Free Practice 3) just tried to get into a bit of a rhythm again and get back up to speed, and then we also made some car changes for qualifying, and I think we were in a good place,” Ricciardo said. Sky Sports.
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“Q1, I made some good steps [but] also a few mistakes. So I think, all things considered, it actually looked like we were there – let’s say competitive for where it was.
“And then in Q2 it’s just — you can see it on your delta too, you’re just not making the gains you should with the evolution of the track and all this.”
“It just gets really hard eventually to feel where the limit is and how much more to go,” he said. “I don’t know what the word is. It’s frustrating.
“It’s just confusing — confusing not to take these kinds of natural steps one should do.”
Meanwhile, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc will start on pole for Sunday’s race.
On his home track, where he cycles from his apartment to the track, Leclerc hopes to finish first and regain the Formula 1 points lead.
Leclerc would lead the field from pole in the Monaco Grand Prix – the same position as a year ago. But he didn’t even start the race because at the end of qualifying he crashed his Ferrari and the car couldn’t be repaired in time to participate.
In three previous starts on the streets of Monaco, Leclerc had two crash injuries and was unable to start. This Sunday, he hopes a win will put him ahead of reigning champion Max Verstappen in the F1 standings and reject any idea he’s cursing on the streets of his hometown.
“I’m not superstitious at all,” Leclerc said. “We’ve had a smooth weekend so far and we’re starting in the best possible position. Hopefully we’ll have a clean race and finally have a good result at home.”
Leclerc was fastest in two of the three practice sessions, as well as qualifying.
Ferrari closed the front row when Carlos Sainz Jr. qualified second despite falling into the disabled Red Bull of Sergio Perez in Saturday’s qualifying with 30 seconds to go.
“I saw the yellow flag, I realized the car in front of me had crashed and you can’t see where it crashed, so you go into the corner without knowing where it will be,” Sainz said. “I slammed on the brakes harder and managed to clamp it down with the back of the car. It would have been a pretty good save if I’d made it, because there really wasn’t time to save it. But it’s what is happening in Monaco.”
It ended an eventful day for Sainz, who was fined $37,000 for hindering Lance Stroll in final practice. Sainz nearly came to a stop on the track in the final corner with Stroll behind him after what race stewards called “a series of grossly misrepresented messages”.
And Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto acknowledged that reliability issues are a concern following Leclerc’s engine failure at last week’s Spanish Grand Prix. Leclerc led when his Ferrari sputtered to a stop and reigning F1 champion Max Verstappen won his third consecutive race, taking a six-point lead over Leclerc in the standings.
“Reliability is always a concern,” Binotto said. “We are concerned, we are looking at what happened.”
Red Bull, meanwhile, has crushed any internal drama that might have lingered following team orders last week demanding Perez relinquish the lead to Verstappen.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner said the team spoke to Perez after the race in Spain, and Perez qualified third in Monaco alongside teammate Verstappen.
“He’s a great team player, he’s a big part of our team,” said Horner. “We saw the problems that Ferrari clearly had as a team, it was a logical step not to let the drivers fight each other and collect those points.
“We have clearly discussed it, the rationale behind it, which he fully accepted and understood. Now we are trying to compete with Ferrari this weekend.”
McLaren’s Norris qualified fifth, one spot ahead of George Russell for Mercedes. Russell’s team-mate, seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton, qualified eighth and was unable to improve his position due to the red flag of Perez’s spin.
Fernando Alonso qualified seventh, while Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Ocon were ninth and tenth.
Hamilton is on course for an eighth race without a win, which would equal his worst Mercedes run since late 2015 and early 2016. He has a record of 103 F1 wins, and even without the late caution in qualifying, don’t think that he could have improved his position.
“The red flags cost me my last lap, but I don’t think it would be much different,” said the British veteran. “The car feels pretty bad there and we have to take some big risks to get close to the times of the cars in front.”
The weather forecast called for rain on Sunday evening and Leclerc wondered what that would do to the well-known streets.
“City circuits are very difficult. When it is wet I am sure Monaco is even more difficult,” said Leclerc.
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