Leclerc takes Monaco GP pole

Charles Leclerc
The Monaco Grand Prix is live on 5 Live and the BBC Sport website at 14:00 BST [Getty Images]

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix from McLaren’s Oscar Piastri.

Leclerc, the form driver all weekend and looking at one with the circuit in his Ferrari, beat the Australian by 0.154 seconds.

World champion Max Verstappen, struggling all weekend in his Red Bull, could manage only sixth place after hitting the wall at the first corner on his final lap.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was third, ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and Mercedes George Russell, whose team-mate Lewis Hamilton was seventh.

The scale of Leclerc’s achievement was apparent from the lap times - his margin over Piastri was bigger than the gap separating the McLaren driver from Verstappen in sixth.

Both Piastri and Sainz paid tribute to the level of Leclerc’s performance through the weekend, saying they recognised going into qualifying that he would be difficult to beat. Sainz said: “Charles has been amazing all weekend.”

It was Leclerc’s third pole in the last four races in Monaco, but despite the importance of starting at the front on a track where overtaking is the most difficult on the calendar, he and Ferrari have not managed to convert the previous two.

Leclerc said: “It was nice. The feeling after a qualifying lap is always very special here. Really, really happy about the lap, the excitement is so high but it feels really good.

“But now I know more often than not in there past qualifying is not everything, as much as it counts, we need to put everything together coming the Sunday, and in the past years we did not manage to do it, but we are a stronger team now and I am sure we can achieve the target.”

Sainz faces an investigation for impeding Williams’ Alex Albon - who qualified an impressive ninth in the team’s best performance of the year - in the first session.

RB’s Yuki Tsunoda and Alpine’s Pierre Gasly - in his team’s first appearance in the top 10 in 2024 - sandwiched the Williams.

This is the first race this season at which Verstappen has been beaten to pole position.

Quick in the first sector, the car was losing time over the bumps and kerbs in the second and third sectors of the lap and Red Bull never found a solution.

Although Verstappen hit the wall at Sainte Devote on his final lap, he had been only third - also behind Leclerc and Piastri - on his first attempt and did not look to have the pace to challenge for pole.

His team-mate Sergio Perez fared even worse - the Mexican was knocked out in the first session after suffering with traffic and will start 18th.

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso was another to suffer in the same way and starts 16th.

Charles Leclerc
Leclerc is a hero on the streets of Monaco... [Getty Images]
Charles Leclerc fans
And on the yachts [Getty Images]