It’s considered to be the most important qualifying session of the season, with overtaking being so difficult during the Grand Prix.
There was an immediate rush from some to leave the pits early in Q1, with the chance of a disrupted red flag session increased with the circuit being so narrow.
Verstappen immediately went to the top of the timesheets with a 1:13.784, followed by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who was then displaced by Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.
Fernando Alonso then showed the true potential of his Aston Martin car, rising to third and above the Ferrari of Leclerc, with his team-mate Lance Stroll moving up to fourth on the leaderboard.
Perez brought out the red flag down at Sainte-Dévote, where he slid into the barrier after appearing to carry too much speed into the corner. The left side of his car was heavily damaged and while he was unable to remove himself from the car, he was out of qualifying and would start P15 at best if the drivers below him were unable to improve on their lap times, something that didn’t happen as the track got faster as the session went on.
At the time of the red flag, it was a McLaren 1-2, with Lando Norris leading Oscar Piastri on what was two strong laps for the team sporting a special ‘Triple Crown’ livery this weekend. Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu was also in an impressive third place, although these positions would all change as the session resumed.
With a minute remaining of the session, it was the AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda that was leading, with Hamilton and Sainz both at risk of being eliminated in the first part of qualifying. Verstappen was in second, only 0.002 seconds behind the sister car of his Red Bull.
At the end of the session, Verstappen was the fastest, with both Sainz and Hamilton setting lap times that were fast enough at the end to progress.
Logan Sargeant missed out on Q2 in his Williams with a 16th-place finished, ahead of the Haas pair of Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg. Zhou finished in 19th place, showing just how much the track evolved since the restart. Perez finished last as a result of not being able to set any more lap times following his crash.
With seven minutes remaining in Q2, Verstappen was leading the way ahead of Alonso and Pierre Gasly in his Alpine, wth his team-mate Esteban Ocon following behind in fourth. Hamilton was once again down in the drop zone as he struggled to set competitive lap times in qualifying.
Norris hit the barrier at Tabac quite heavily, but he was able to continue before he slowly headed into the pitlane. Just moments before the incident, he tapped the barrier on the exit from the chicane and this may have caused some damage which may have contriuted to the crash.
As the checkered flag came out, Hamilton had one more attempt to set another lap time. Stroll pulled into the pitlane and was out of qualifying in Q2 as Hamilton set a lap time to take him to fifth on the grid.
Piastri, Nyck de Vries, Alexander Albon, Stroll and Valtteri Bottas were all emilinted at the end of the session as the McLaren mechanics battled against the clock to get Norris’ car ready for the third and final session of qualifying.
Verstappen was the first driver out on track in Q3, and after being fastest in the opening two parts of the session, was many people’s favorite to make it a clean sweep and claim pole position.
However, after going slighly wide at Casino Square, it allowed Alonso to go four tenths faster than Verstappen, with Ocon sitting nicely in third place, followed by his team-mate Gasly.
Leclerc then moved up to second place, before he was demoted of the front-row by his team-mate Sainz. Hamilton struggled early once again, but was on used tires as seventh place on the leaderboard was his best effort in the opening minutes of the session.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the eight-time Constructors’ Champions as Russell moved up to fourth place and ahead of Verstappen, who was now down in fifth place.
McLaren managed to repair Norris’ car and he was able to get out on track in Q3, which was a very impressive effort from the team.
Verstappen then pulled out an incredible final sector on his second run using used tyres, going fastest overall and onto provisional pole position.
However, Ocon then completed a spectaular lap to go fastest and onto pole position, showing that the track was still ramping up as the session came towards a conclusion.
Leclerc then sent the home fans wild as he went to the top of the timesheets, but Alonso was going even faster and would take provisional pole by 0.022 seconds.
However, Max Verstappen was still to complete his final lap with an outstanding final sector, he went 0.084 seconds faster than the Spainish two-time World Champion to claim pole position.
Verstappen and Alonso would line-up on the front-row of the grid, with Leclerc and Ocon behind. Sainz and Hamilton line-up on the third row, followed by Gasly and Russell, with Tsunoda and Norris making up the fifth row on the grid.