Home hero Leclerc was untouchable in qualifying as he posted a stunning lap that put him 0.225s clear of Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz to claim his fifth pole of the season. 

Leclerc was set to improve even further on his final run of Q3 but a crash for Perez and Sainz at Portier resulted in a red flag that brought qualifying to a premature end. 

Perez lost control of his Red Bull on the entry to the corner and hit the wall on the outside just before the tunnel. He was then collected by an unsighted Sainz, who did his best to avoid the Mexican by spinning his Ferrari. 

Despite his crash, Perez was able to outqualify Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen by less than half a second, with the reigning world champion left fourth on the grid for Sunday’s grand prix. 

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Lando Norris, still recovering from tonsillitis, was a brilliant fifth for McLaren, ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell and Fernando Alonso, who starred for Alpine before crashing at Mirabeau on his final lap of Q3. 

Lewis Hamilton was on course to improve until the red flag ruined his lap, leaving him eighth, ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Ocon, who completed the top 10 for Aston Martin and Alpine. 

AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda missed out on a place in the top 10 shootout by a tenth, while Valtteri Bottas also failed to make the cut in 12th for Alfa Romeo. 

Kevin Magnussen was the highest-placed Haas driver in 13th, ahead of the under-pressure Daniel Ricciardo, whose rough start to the season continued at Monaco. 

The McLaren driver, who suffered a big crash during second practice on Friday, was knocked out in Q2 with a lap time that was only good enough for P14, ahead of Mick Schumacher’s Haas. 

Alex Albon was 16th for Williams ahead of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, who was the big loser of Q1 as he failed to make the chequered flag in time to start his final flying lap following a red flag period. 

Like Gasly, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, Williams’ Nicholas Latifi and Alfa Romeo’s Guanyu Zhou were also unable to get to make it in time and subsequently suffered Q1 eliminations. 

Leclerc will be looking to reclaim the lead of the world championship and finally end his Monaco curse by winning on home soil for the first time on Sunday.