Fernando Alonso joins Max Verstappen on the front row in Monaco, and hopes there will be a wobble for the Dutchman off the line.
Having not started from pole in Formula 1 since the 2012 German Grand Prix, Alonso for much of Q3 was giving every reason to believe that this streak was coming to an end.
And having seen off the threat of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and former Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon who had at one point held provisional pole, the only driver left who could stop Alonso snapping this streak was Verstappen.
The first two sectors were far from ideal for Verstappen, but a monster final sector saw him regain the three-tenths needed on Alonso to snatch pole from the Aston Martin driver.
Alonso acknowledged the potential importance of that, with overtaking often at a premium around Monaco, but he goes into the race very much intent on winning, especially since there is also a threat of thunderstorms making their mark.
“Obviously pole position means a lot here in Monaco, but today, Max was a little bit faster, which is a shame,” said Alonso immediately after qualifying.
“But I think first row on the grid for us is quite a big thing here. [The] last sector seems our weakest point of the circuit.
“Let’s see tomorrow what we can do in terms of a strategy, if there is any weather coming or something, but we will try to win.”
Considering Red Bull’s all-conquering race pace so far in F1 2023, Alonso may well require a change in weather or a big slice of good luck to beat Verstappen if the Dutchman keeps his lead at the start.
And this is an area which Alonso highlights as a strength for him, and an inconsistency for Verstappen, meaning it could well be a dramatic short dash down to Turn 1.
“It’s very short into Turn 1 but yeah, we have normally a good start,” said Alonso.
“This year Max is a little bit inconsistent, so maybe it’s one of those bad ones tomorrow.”
If Alonso could secure the win, then it would be his first since Spain 2013 and would shatter the record for the longest gap between victories.