Max Verstappen has snatched pole for the Monaco Grand Prix following a thrilling qualifying session overnight.
The Dutchman was made to work for top spot, his final lap, completed after the chequered flag, pipping provisional pole sitter Fernando Alonso by just .08 seconds.
Pole-sitter for the past two events, Charles Leclerc, could only manage third fastest this time out. The hometown driver, however, received a three-place grid penalty for impeding Lando Norris in the tunnel and will start from sixth.
This elevates Esteban Ocon up to third, with Carlos Sainz moving onto the second row for fourth. Lewis Hamilton, who returned to action in qualifying following an FP3 crash, starts fifth, with Leclerc starting alongside from grid spot six.
Alpine were the surprise package of qualifying, benefitting from a rapid track evolution to take third for Ocon and seventh for Pierre Gasly.
George Russell starts eighth, with Yuki Tsunoda and Lando Norris rounding out the top 10.
Sergio Perez will start from the back of the grid, the Mexican crashing out in the first session, while Lance Stroll was another early elimination, putting good points up for grabs for several of the mid-field teams once the lights go green on a track notorious for its difficulty for overtaking.
Drama was quick to unfold on the iconic circuit, Perez entering Turn 1 too hot and hitting the wall hard with his left-rear. The Red Bull driver sat fifth in Q1 at the time, but 11 minutes remained in the run as the red flag came out for retrieval of his car.
Track evolution was rapid once running resume, the times continuing to tumble and relegating Perez to 20th to make for a difficult day of racing tomorrow.
While the track was ramping up, so was tyre degradation, putting the likes of Hamilton and Sainz under pressure with minutes remaining in the session. Hamilton proceeded to cut the chicane on his final flyer, but had time remaining for a final run. Both were able to better there times after the chequered flag had flown to ensure their safety.
A dramatic Q1 ended with Verstappen on top over Yuki Tsunoda and Alex Albon, with Zhou Guanyu, Nico Hulkenberg, Kevin Magnussen and Logan Sargeant joining Perez in the bottom five.
Q2 was a much tamer affair until the closing stages when Lando Norris made contact with the wall. He was able to return to the lane but was out of time to set a final flyer.
Lance Stroll was a casualty of the session, lacking in pace and unable to progress. He was joined by Valtteri Bottas, Nyck De Vries, Alex Albon and Oscar Piastri as those knocked out in Q2. Norris was able to hold on for 10th, his crew left rapidly working on repairs ahead of Q3.
The track continued to evolve in Q3, and with two minutes remaining it was Ocon who held provisional pole, threatening the top four teams with a blistering lap. Leclerc would be the first to better this on his final flyer, only for Alonso to go better still and hold top spot with only Verstappen to come.
The Dutchman was two-tenths down on Alonso after two sectors, but pieced together a quick final section to come home for pole by .08 seconds.
2023 Monaco Grand Prix Starting Grid
|12th||Nyck De Vries|
Header Image: Sky Sports UK