Winners and losers: Sergio Perez unquestionably biggest loser in Monaco GP qualifying

Thomas Maher
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari and Sergio Perez, Red Bull, at the 2024 Monaco GP.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Red Bull's Sergio Perez make our list of Winners and Losers for the Monaco GP.

On a day when Charles Leclerc became the toast of Monaco once again, it was the Red Bull drivers struggling to impress.

Charles Leclerc was untouchable in Q3 at Monaco, popping in an unbelievable last flying lap to take pole position for his home race – capitalising on a day where Red Bull failed to fire on all cylinders.

Winners and losers from 2024 Monaco Grand Prix qualifying


Charles Leclerc

The Monegasque driver made full use of his local knowledge to put in the fastest lap when it mattered, and then digging deep to go quicker again on his final run in Q3.

It was a metronomic display from Leclerc, who built up through the day in Verstappen-esque fashion, and took his third Monaco pole position in four years.

While 2021 didn’t go his way due to mechanical failure, and 2022 fell apart due to strategy errors, the pieces are all lined up for Leclerc to finally dispel any notion his Monaco ‘curse’ still exists.

Having come under pressure from Carlos Sainz’s exemplary performances over the first handful of races in 2024, Leclerc is now starting to produce in the same way we’ve grown accustomed to over the past few years – making all the difference to claim pole position just ahead of Oscar Piastri.


Having won in Miami and challenging strongly at Imola, the question mark over how versatile the MCL38 is over a variety of circuits was answered on Saturday at Monaco.

Curiously, it was Oscar Piastri who looked slightly more comfortable throughout the session as he claimed the front-row position alongside Leclerc – a good start on Sunday could set him up perfectly for a maiden win, given how the McLaren kept its tyres alive at Imola.

While Norris hasn’t quite managed the same highs as Piastri so far, he’s not exactly lagging behind either – the Miami GP winner will start from fourth place.

At a track that rewards good mechanical grip, the previous weakness of McLaren – that of slow corner prowess – certainly seems to now be fully rectified. Is the McLaren now the overall most competitive and malleable machine on the grid?

Pierre Gasly

Gasly and Alpine have had a miserable year so far, but it looks like they’re making steps forward in figuring out their troublesome car.

Esteban Ocon has had the better of things over the first quarter of the season and, had it not been for Gasly’s exemplary showing in qualifying, his 11th place position would have been enough to earn him a place on the Winner list by himself.

But Ocon’s achievement, good as it was, paled compared to what Gasly managed as the French driver produced one of the startlingly good qualifying positions he was so good at during his second stint at AlphaTauri.

Gasly has been a rather dour figure throughout 2024, particularly as rumours gather that his time with the team is coming to a close, but there was no hiding his smile as he made it through into Q3.

In the end, he will only start one position ahead of Ocon, but Alpine’s rise into the midfield from the very back has been notable. They had a brilliant weekend in Monte Carlo last year, can they score a decent haul of points this year?

George Russell

Another qualifying session, another day in which George Russell has finished ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

Granted, Russell has the new front wing fitted to his Mercedes – something Hamilton believes gives him a two-tenths of a second advantage, which is a bigger margin than Russell had over Hamilton.

But the momentum is firmly with Russell, who has out-qualified Hamilton on all but one occasion this season so far.

Russell was left rueing the fact he couldn’t make it into the top three, which he felt was possible, and this points firmly to some optimism that Mercedes is finally starting to more consistently unlock the performance it believes is inherent in the W15.

Certainly, the car no longer appears to be evil to drive and is closer to where Mercedes expect to be in the pecking order. If the Brackley-based squad is finally starting to develop its car in the right direction, the potential to join in the fight for race wins might emerge before year’s end.

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Max Verstappen

It’s not often the Dutch driver ends up on this list, but Verstappen’s weekend has been properly compromised by that small error he made at Ste. Devote.

Throughout Q1 and Q2, it looked as though Verstappen had managed to get his Red Bull back in the zone after a tough Friday and, while he might not have taken pole position, he had been ramping up to match the time being found by Ferrari and McLaren.

But, rather than producing one of his usual moments of magic, Verstappen put a wheel wrong through the first corner on his final flying lap and, immediately, backed off as he knew the lap was gone.

While his championship lead is safe for this weekend, he’s in for a Sunday race where he’ll need to be exceptionally patient – the impetus is with his pursuing rivals as several of them start ahead of him on the grid and have the advantage of track position.

Sergio Perez

While Verstappen makes it onto this list after a sub-par day, his travails were nothing compared to Sergio Perez’s.

On Friday, the Mexican said he felt Ferrari were miles ahead but, unfortunately for him, it was pretty much the whole field who got the better of him in qualifying.

Managing just 18th in the session and knocked out in Q1, his final run was compromised by traffic but the onboard footage showed he was far from comfortable behind the wheel.

Even ending up behind Williams’ Logan Sargeant, it was a performance that – when combined with his dodgy weekend at Imola – hints that the same mid-season European slump that plagued him last year has already begun.

It’s hugely bad timing for Perez, coming just as he’s confirmed talks are underway with Red Bull about his future. The message he’s been given since the start of the year has been to perform consistently, which he hasn’t managed recently.

Now that the field has closed up, or perhaps even surpassed Red Bull’s performance, the team can no longer afford to have these blips from Perez – if he can’t rectify things fast, then his days with Milton Keynes are numbered.

Fernando Alonso

Another shock elimination in Q1, Fernando Alonso had looked hugely strong throughout Friday practice. Having been a contender for the victory outright last year, the chance of similar heroics went up in smoke instantly in qualifying as he was knocked out early doors.

The Spaniard pointed the finger of blame at the traffic, although wasn’t angry about the situation.

Putting forward a suggestion for group qualifying for Monaco’s 70-second lap, Alonso explained what had gone wrong for him.

“Obviously, we were not maybe the car to be on pole but I think enough to be P7, P8,” he said after the session.

“I found myself in the wrong place, wrong moment.

“This is Monaco, you know it’s difficult to get a clean lap, but I think I lost three-tenths out of Turn 11 with a car just in front of me, and then another two-tenths in the last corner with three cars that were parked there just to start in the lap.

“No one to blame, I think they cannot vanish in the very last moment out of the last corner, but yeah, a little bit unlucky today.

“[On Sunday, the aim is to] not crash, try to keep the car in one piece.”

After a few shaky performances, Alonso needs a big one again to get his season back on track.

Daniel Ricciardo

On a day when Yuki Tsunoda caught the eye again with a tremendous qualifying display by making it into eighth place, Daniel Ricciardo was knocked out in Q2 in 13th place.

Things appeared to have turned around after the Chinese Grand Prix with the new chassis for his side of the garage but, at a track where the driver can make up for quite a bit of a car’s performance deficit, the Australian was easily beaten by Tsunoda as the Japanese driver went three-tenths quicker in Q2.

“It was a tough day today,” he said afterward.

“Qualifying is very important here in Monaco and it hurts starting outside the top 10 for tomorrow’s race.

“Yesterday we felt we were in a good place, I knew there was a little bit to come for us so I was definitely excited coming into today, but unfortunately, it feels like we took a little bit of a backstep. I’m not disappointed with the way I drove, it just simply wasn’t quite enough to get the most out of it where I needed to.

“The car was slightly trickier in some places and I was struggling a little, but it wasn’t a matter of us making any big mistakes. Personally, I just found it difficult to get the tyres going in the first lap and then, whenever I was able to lift the pace, we couldn’t find as much time as the others. I’ve qualified a few times around this position here and certainly, it won’t make our life easy.”

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