Max Verstappen pips Fernando Alonso to pole in thrilling Monaco shootout; Charles Leclerc third

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Max Verstappen edged Fernando Alonso to pole position by 0.084s in a thrilling qualifying session for the Monaco Grand Prix that came down to the final sector of the final lap of Q3.

Verstappen, who said he "hit the wall pretty hard" on his pole lap, was slower than Alonso through the first two sectors of his last attempt, but somehow found the performance in the final sector to beat the Aston Martin driver's best time.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Alpine's Esteban Ocon also held the top spot in the final few minutes of the session as the track conditions seemed to improve with each passing lap, but ended up third and fourth fastest. However, Leclerc will start sixth on the grid after the stewards issued a penalty for impeding Lando Norris at the end of Q3.

Verstappen -- who has won three of the five races so far this season -- appeared to be out of sorts at the start of Q3, with his first attempt 0.2s slower than his best Q2 lap. However, he came out on top in the closest-fought qualifying session of the season and on a track where grid positions often determine the race result.

Verstappen's Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez will start the Monaco Grand Prix from last place after crashing out of Q1. The Mexican failed to slow sufficiently for Sainte Devote on his second flying lap in Q1, sliding sideways and slamming into the barriers on the exit. The hit damaged his Red Bull's front and rear suspension as well as the sidepod of the car, leaving it stranded in the middle of the track and unable to continue in the session.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz set the fifth fastest time but will start fourth on the grid, ahead of Lewis Hamilton in fifth, after Leclerc's penalty is applied. Pierre Gasly was seventh fastest in the second Alpine ahead of Mercedes' George Russell in eighth and Yuki Tsunoda's AlphaTauri in ninth.

Norris will start tenth after making it to Q3 despite breaking his suspension by clipping the barriers on the exit of the Nouvelle Chicane on his final attempt in Q2. The team managed to fix his car, but he only marginally improved in Q3 before being blocked by Leclerc in the tunnel. Norris had beaten teammate Oscar Piastri into the top ten by 0.018s, meaning the McLarens will start tenth and 11th on the grid on Sunday.

Nyck de Vries was 12th fastest ahead of Williams driver Alex Albon, with Lance Stroll set to start 14th following a disappointing performance in the second Aston Martin. Stroll was 0.516s off teammate Alonso in Q2 and will line up on the grid in 14th ahead of Valtteri Bottas in 15th.

Logan Sargeant missed out on a place in Q2 by 0.059s and will start 16th ahead of the two Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg. Zhou Guanyu will start on the back row for Alfa Romeo ahead of Perez in last place.