Charles Leclerc insists Ferrari's late decision to change tyres was the right one despite him ultimately missing out on a podium finish at the Turkish Grand Prix.

The Monegasque driver recorded a fourth-place finish for the fifth time this season, though he did close the gap on team-mate Carlos Sainz to just half a point in the battle for sixth in the Drivers' Championship.

After starting third on the grid, Leclerc took the lead at Istanbul Park when eventual champion Valtteri Bottas returned to the pits in lap 37.

However, the two-time Grand Prix winner was boxed himself 10 laps later to replace his used intermediate tyres.

That ultimately cost Ferrari in Turkey as Leclerc struggled to build pace with the new intermediates – as well as what would have been a ninth podium finish for the team.

Nevertheless, the 24-year-old maintains that he and his team have no complaints with the consequences of their decision.

"It was a great race. On the first stint, we were very, very competitive. Then unfortunately, we were a little bit out of phase with the others on the second stint, stopping later," he said.

"At first, in the first five, six laps of the others on the new inters, we were quicker than them on the used inters. 

"But after six laps, I think they cleared the graining, and then they found a lot of performance – around three seconds a lap – and then we had no choice, we had to stop.

"For the last 10 laps, I was just trying to switch on those inters that never really came to life. It's a bit of a shame because that made us lose the podium, but I don't regret anything.

"In Russia, I think the communication was not great, but this time the communication was very good. I had a clear picture of the race, and we did the right choice, or what we thought was the right choice at the time."

Max Verstappen faces a battle to retain his lead in the Formula One world championship standings after being relegated to the back of the grid for the Russian Grand Prix.

Red Bull have opted to install a fourth engine of the season in the Dutchman's car ahead of the race at the Sochi circuit, meaning Verstappen must take a grid penalty.

Verstappen, who leads reigning champion Lewis Hamilton by just five points, had a three-place grid sanction hanging over him following his part in a collision with his Mercedes rival in Italy.

The news is a reprieve for Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who had been demoted to the rear of the grid after the Scuderia chose to debut a new power unit this weekend.

Verstappen finished second in Russia last year, when Valtteri Bottas took the honours and team-mate Hamilton was third.

The 23-year-old has claimed seven race wins this season, with Hamilton on four.

Charles Leclerc will start the Russian Grand Prix from the back of the grid as Ferrari give a debut outing to a new power unit.

The Scuderia have long been teasing a "significant" engine component development, and it will now be put to the ultimate test this weekend.

With regulations restricting Formula One engine manufacturers to one upgrade per component each year, Ferrari have been running a hybrid system based on 2020 specifications.

In Sochi, the team will showcase an improved hybrid power unit and Leclerc will be the first to get to grips with it, as Carlos Sainz waits his turn.

"Its main purpose is to gain experience for the 2022 car project," Ferrari, who will unveil an entirely new car next year, said in a statement.

"A great deal of effort has gone into this, both technically and logistically, and so as to be able to use it as soon as possible, its introduction will be staggered between the drivers.

"Charles will be the first to have the new hybrid system. This decision is a precautionary measure relating to the potential risk of using the battery pack damaged in his Hungarian GP accident.

"In Sochi, Leclerc will have a brand new power unit and will therefore start from the back of the grid.

"As to when the updated hybrid system is fitted to Carlos' car, that will be decided following an evaluation of the right compromise between competitiveness and the impact of the penalty."

Leclerc sits sixth in the driver standings on 104 points, just ahead of his team-mate, who has 97.5 points.

Lewis Hamilton will start the Italian Grand Prix in fourth after being made to pay for a slow start to Saturday's sprint race at Monza, which saw Valtteri Bottas come out on top.

Mercedes driver Hamilton started in second but dropped to fifth early on and only managed to recover one place in the half-hour 18-lap race.

Bottas took control of the sprint – just the second ever after the inaugural event at Silverstone in July – and finished in front of Max Verstappen to take three points.

However, the Finn will start from the back of the grid on Sunday after taking a penalty for a power unit change, meaning that Verstappen moves into pole position.

With his second-placed finish, Verstappen also extends his World Championship lead over Hamilton by two points, while Daniel Ricciardo completed the top three.

"I feel good. It feels like it has been a while to finish first in a race," Bottas told Sky Sports.

"Unfortunately I'm starting from the back tomorrow but the speed is there, so I'll be fighting and coming as high as I can. Today, I enjoy and it was a clean race. We had a good pace. All good.

"Tomorrow is not going to be easy, that's for sure. The train of cars with DRS, it's not easy but obviously strategy-wise, still a free choice of tyres for the start, so let's see if we can do something."

The race got off to a frantic start as Pierre Gasly, who triumphed on this circuit last year, crashed out on Turn 1 after clipping Ricciardo  and losing control of his AlphaTauri.

The safety car was deployed for the next three laps and McLaren pair Ricciardo and Lando Norris were able to successfully stay in front of Hamilton.

Hamilton did not have a chance to attack Norris, though he did at least stay clear of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, the Ferrari duo finishing sixth and seventh respectively.

Lewis Hamilton closed the gap on championship leader Max Verstappen to eight points, but was accused of "dirty driving" after a stunning first-lap crash between the title rivals at the British Grand Prix.

An eighth triumph in his home race for Hamilton came after he passed the Ferrari of long-time leader Charles Leclerc on the 50th of the 52 laps, but it was a highly controversial victory. Leclerc took second place, with Valtteri Bottas third.

The scathing remark about Hamilton's driving at the start of the race came from Verstappen's Red Bull boss Christian Horner, who was furious with the seven-time Formula One drivers' champion.

Pole-sitter Verstappen and Hamilton, second on the grid, came close to making contact before they finally did so at Copse Corner. Hamilton was looking to overtake Verstappen on the inside, but clipped the Red Bull driver's right rear wheel.

The tyre came flying off and Verstappen's car went crashing across the gravel and into the barriers at high speed, crumpling badly. Verstappen was able to walk away, but was said by Horner to be "massively winded".

It caused the race to be red-flagged, with a delay of around 40 minutes before the grand prix resumed, Mercedes star driver Hamilton served with a 10-second penalty.

Hamilton's reaction to the crash had been to declare on team radio: "I was ahead going in there, man. He turned in on me, man. I gave that guy space."

But Red Bull team principal Horner was livid, describing the punishment as "pretty light" and telling Channel 4: "I think it was a desperate move. Copse is one of the fastest corners in the world, you don't stick a wheel up the inside, that's just dirty driving."

Hamilton came in for his time penalty just after halfway through the 52-lap race, returning to the track behind Leclerc, Mercedes team-mate Bottas and Lando Norris of McLaren.

Hamilton surged past Norris at Copse to climb to third place, before Mercedes told their drivers to switch positions with 11 laps remaining. Leclerc was suddenly under huge threat, Hamilton driving exceptionally well and bringing down the Ferrari driver's lead to barely one second with three laps remaining.

He got past at Copse, ironically, as Leclerc ran wide, and was roared home by the British fans.

Valtteri Bottas has hit out at the three-place grid penalty he was given for the Styrian Grand Prix, insisting "everyone tries to screw you" in Formula One.

The Mercedes driver qualified second at the Red Bull Ring, ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton, but will have to start the race in fifth due to a penalty he received before the session.

Bottas spun his car in the pit lane in FP2 on Friday after leaving his pit box in second gear, leading to a punishment from the race stewards for "potentially dangerous driving".

Pole-sitter Max Verstappen and Hamilton will therefore occupy the front row for the first of two consecutive races in Austria.

A penalty was the last thing Bottas needed in a 2021 campaign where he is yet to finish in the top two and facing pressure for his seat amid speculation George Russell could replace him next year.

Since F1 returned to Spielberg in 2014, the eventual race winner has started on the first two rows in all eight races held, while on six of those occasions the victor came from the front row.

"My personal view is [that it's] quite harsh," Bottas said about his potentially costly punishment.

"I never imagined after that that there would be a penalty but of course other teams, when they see the opportunity, they complained that it was dangerous so that we would get penalised. 

"That's how it goes, so everyone is always trying to screw you over in this sport. 

"I mean yes, it can be a dangerous situation if there's many people in the pit lane but no..."

 

Bottas has strong previous form at the Red Bull Ring, with his impressive display in qualifying to beat the time of Hamilton coming at a circuit where he has more poles (three) than at any other in the sport.

The Finn knows overtaking is difficult in Spielberg but hopes he will be able to join Verstappen and Hamilton at the front. 

"I don't think it’s the easiest," Bottas said when asked about overtaking, with Hamilton, Lando Norris and Sergio Perez promoted ahead of him in the grid order.

"The middle sector, the high-speed corners and the last two corners is a tricky part to follow closely.

"But there's long straights and, if you have the pace, if you have the right strategy for sure we can move up – and that's of course going to be the aim. 

"In terms of strategy we're starting with the medium tyre. Some guys I'm battling with who are starting on the soft, so that can play a part."

Hamilton vowed to fight championship leader Verstappen hard but maintains Red Bull have more pace despite his team chipping away at the advantage.

"We gave it everything and we've got a long race so I hope that the balance works for us," said the seven-time world champion.

"It's going to be a tough battle with these guys - they've generally had the edge throughout the weekend and the analysis last night was that they are a quarter of a second ahead on long run pace.

"I hope through work we've closed that gap but finding the next two-tenths [to Red Bull] is a little bit difficult. We will not leave any stone unturned."

 

AlphaTauri had a good day with Pierre Gasly in sixth and Yuki Tsunoda qualifying eighth either side of Charles Leclerc.

But another grid penalty was handed out ahead of Sunday's race, with Japanese driver Tsunoda demoted to 11th – ironically for blocking Bottas – meaning Fernando Alonso, Lance Stroll and George Russell benefit.

Triumphs for Verstappen and Red Bull team-mate Perez were impressive at the street circuits of Monaco and Baku.

But the Dutchman's win at the more traditional French Grand Prix last time out – a race Mercedes had dominated in the previous two years – was a huge statement that gave him a 12-point lead in the standings.

Verstappen continued his momentum to take pole and is now chasing his third career triumph in Spielberg, which would make this his most successful track in terms of wins.

Bottas and Hamilton won the two grands prix here last year, though there were sweet home successes for Red Bull in each of the two years prior.

Lewis Hamilton has cast doubt on prospects for a Mercedes victory at the Styrian Grand Prix but promised to "give it everything" to challenge Max Verstappen.

Pole position went to Verstappen on Saturday as the Red Bull team showed impressive pace at their home circuit in Spielberg, Austria.

Championship leader Verstappen, who heads Hamilton by 12 points after the opening seven races of the season, expressed satisfaction as a job well done.

Hamilton reacted to being only third quickest, behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas, by saying Mercedes simply do not have the speed that Red Bull are showing at present.

A three-place grid penalty for a pit-lane spin on Friday means Bottas will drop to fifth, with Hamilton bumped up a spot, spared having to start on the second row.

Hamilton said: "Well done to Max. I've been giving it absolutely everything. It just wasn't the greatest of sessions, but nonetheless I'm still on the front row.

"I did everything I could and we go into the race on Sunday for a fight.

"Generally they [Red Bull] had a quarter of a second on us all weekend. I don't think we have the raw pace to overtake them, that's for sure."

 

But Hamilton added: "We'll be giving it everything. Maybe Sunday we'll be surprised, maybe it rains, who knows."

Verstappen has won two of the last three races to power ahead at the top of the drivers' standings, giving him early season hope of a first world title.

"It's been a very good weekend," said Verstappen. "Again in qualifying the car was really good to drive. I'm super happy to be on pole here at home. It's nice to see a Red Bull car first here.

"The lap, when you look at the track you think there are not many corners, but the corners you have are quite difficult. It's a small track but it's hard to get a good lap out of it. The first lap in Q3 was not too bad. It's never perfect, but it was good enough."

Looking ahead to race day, Verstappen said: "It's never easy – I wish sometimes it was easy. I'm sure again it will be very tight. Hopefully again it will be as interesting as it was in France."

Verstappen won after an undercut as he delivered victory last weekend at the French Grand Prix. Hamilton took second place there, with Sergio Perez third and Bottas fourth.

Bottas said his grid penalty this weekend was "a shame", adding: "It's a new day on Sunday with a race ahead and anything is possible."

 

Lando Norris (McLaren) and Verstappen's Red Bull team-mate Perez will form the second row, with the relegated Bottas alongside Pierre Gasly on row three.

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc struggled for pace with Ferrari in qualifying, and Sainz was bumped out of the top 10 close to the end of Q2, qualifying only 12th quickest.

Leclerc clambered to seventh on the grid, with Gasly's AlphaTauri team-mate Yuki Tsunoda eighth and Fernando Alonso ninth.

Sainz still qualified ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel – 13th and 14th respectively – with George Russell just a sliver away from making it through to Q3. Williams driver Russell was 11th, a mere 0.008 seconds behind Lance Stroll's Aston Martin.
 

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:03.841
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0.194secs (has three-place grid penalty)
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.226s
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) +0.279s
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.327s
6. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +0.395s
7. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0.631s
8. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) +0.673s
9. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +0.733s
10. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +0.867s

Remarkable late drama at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix saw Sergio Perez handed victory after Max Verstappen crashed out and title rival Lewis Hamilton incredibly finished outside the points.

Verstappen looked to be coasting to a second consecutive Formula One win and seventh straight podium – both career firsts.

The Red Bull driver, four points ahead of Hamilton in the standings prior to the race, was well in the clear after earlier benefitting from a slow Hamilton pit stop.

But Verstappen's left-rear tyre blew out and ended his race, prompting the furious Dutchman to kick his car in anger.

Lance Stroll had encountered the same issue with the hard Pirelli tyres, swerving out of control when he had been fourth, albeit without pitting.

A red flag – requested by a concerned Red Bull team – followed Verstappen's crash with just three laps remaining, meaning a standing start with Perez ahead of Hamilton on the front row of the grid following the delay.

In another twist, Hamilton and his smoking brakes careered off the circuit from the restart and Perez raced away to lift Red Bull spirits.

With Hamilton way back in 15th, it meant a positive end to the day for Verstappen's team, even if the season leader will continue to rue his misfortune.

Both Verstappen and Perez jumped ahead of Hamilton when he was delayed in the pit lane by Pierre Gasly, having quickly caught pole-sitter Charles Leclerc.

Stroll's mishap threw a spanner in the works, yet Verstappen pulled ahead clear from the restart following the safety car, with Perez again getting the better of Hamilton.

Sebastian Vettel's climb to fourth and attempt to reel in old foe Hamilton looked the most likely source of intrigue in the closing stages, only for Verstappen's blow to bring the race to a standstill.

Hamilton admitted his error when his restart sensationally failed, though, and Perez hung on, his car breaking down moments after crossing the line before Vettel – who achieved a first Aston Martin podium.

Charles Leclerc joked "it was quite a s*** lap" after he clinched pole position for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Formula One championship leader Max Verstappen.

In a qualifying session littered with crashes on Saturday, it was Ferrari's Leclerc who came out on top, recording a time of one minute and 41.218 seconds.

The frantic session on the streets of Baku saw four red flags raised, equalling the record for the most in qualifying, which was set ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2016.

Indeed, it was the fourth red flag which all but sealed Leclerc's pole, his second in a row after he started at the front of the grid in Monaco last time out – he is the first driver to take back-to-back poles this season.

World champion Hamilton struggled in practice, but was second when Yuki Tsunoda's crash into the barriers ended qualifying and came in a tenth of a second quicker than Verstappen, who had crashed out in the final practice session.

Leclerc was not best pleased with his efforts, but had no qualms about securing pole.

"It was quite a s*** lap I thought!" Leclerc, who set his fastest time with the help of a slipstream from Hamilton, joked to Sky Sports.

"There were like two or three corners where I did mistakes, but of course I had the big tow from Lewis in the last sector which helped me a little bit.

"But overall I think we would have been there or thereabouts for pole without the slipstream, so it's a good day. I did not expect to be as competitive as we were today. I was improving again [before] the red flag but it's like this, another pole, and I'm happy anyway."

Meanwhile, Hamilton was left to reflect on what he labelled a "monumental" result for Mercedes, with the team having struggled throughout the week – indeed, Valtteri Bottas will start in 10th on Sunday.

"We definitely weren't expecting that and this is such a monumental result for us because we've been struggling like you couldn't believe all weekend. You can see it," Hamilton said.

"We kept our composure. We've continued to have difficult discussions in the background and challenging one another, and just never taking no for an answer. We've moved around, made so many changes, over these two days. Just chasing our tail and it's been so difficult.

"It has been the biggest challenge in a long time. It has been a bit of a disaster."

Verstappen won in Monaco, with Red Bull aiming for consecutive race victories for the first time since 2014, but the young Dutchman could not hide his frustration with how the session panned out.

"It was just a stupid qualifying to be honest, but it is what it is," he said. "It's a street circuit so these things can happen, our car is strong so hopefully tomorrow we can score good points."

Pierre Gasly was in fine form during practice and took the momentum into qualifying, clinching fourth on the grid, while Carlos Sainz completed an impressive showing from Ferrari by coming in fifth.

The day ultimately belonged to Leclerc, who will be hoping for better luck than he had in Monaco, when a mechanical issue meant he could not build on his pole position and had to drop out of the race.

 

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:41.218
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.232s
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.345s
4. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +0.347s
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.358s
6. Lando Norris (McLaren) +0.529s
7. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.699s
8. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) +0.993s
9. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1.109s
10. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +1.441s

Charles Leclerc found it "very difficult to feel okay" after his latest failed attempt to finish a Monaco Grand Prix, in which he was unable even to take his place on the grid.

Leclerc had qualified fastest on Saturday but crashed in the process, giving the Ferrari mechanics work to do to get his car in shape to start from pole position.

The Scuderia announced three hours before the race they would not have to replace the gearbox, ensuring Leclerc would not face a grid penalty.

However, the 23-year-old quickly ran into trouble driving the car ahead of the start, as Ferrari identified "an issue with the left driveshaft" that meant he had to be withdrawn around 20 minutes prior to the grand prix.

The Monegasque was making his third Formula One appearance at Monaco having retired from the prior two.

But for this mishap, Leclerc might have produced the best result of a home driver in the principality, a feat that still belongs Louis Chiron, who came third at the first ever F1 Monaco GP in 1950.

"In the garage, it was very, very difficult to feel okay," Leclerc told Sky Sports.

"I guess now I'm getting used to this feeling here, unfortunately. I've never finished a race here. This year I don't start it starting from pole.

"It's a difficult one to take, but I also feel for the team, to be honest. The mechanics have done such a hard job yesterday to try to check everything.

"The mechanics were finally a bit happy this morning to see that everything seems fine and all the parts were fine, and then this happens. It's a shame for everyone."

Max Verstappen, who started from second but had a clear run with Leclerc's position vacant, won at Monaco for the first time, finishing ahead of Carlos Sainz in the second Ferrari car.

Sainz delivered Ferrari's 54th Monaco podium, extending their record haul.

Max Verstappen went top of the Formula One drivers' standings for the first time in his career but admits he faces a huge fight to stay ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

The Red Bull star earned a maiden Monaco Grand Prix victory as Hamilton trailed in seventh, with the Mercedes team as a whole enduring a desperate day.

Valtteri Bottas was forced to retire from the race while running second when the pit crew were unable to remove a tyre, with Verstappen and fourth-placed Sergio Perez nudging Red Bull above Mercedes at the summit of the constructors' standings.

Neither Verstappen nor his team would be presumptuous enough to suggest this changing of the guard at the top of each championship is anything but potentially fleeting though, given the margins are so tight and this was just the fifth stop-off in a 23-race season.

"It's so special around here to win and to be for the first time on the podium here," Verstappen said. "It's an amazing race and you really have to keep your focus, but it's really cool.

"You never know what's going to happen, but it was all about looking after your tyres and finding a good stop gap of course. The others went earlier so that made it a bit easier for me, but it was pretty much in control.

"Of course you always want to win this grand prix. I remember when I was very little watching this grand prix and to be standing here of course I'm very proud.

"But I'm also thinking ahead. It's still a very long season, but this is a great way to continue."

Hamilton has won the last four championships and six of the last seven, while Mercedes are chasing an eighth consecutive team title.

They will have many better Sundays in the coming months, and a team statement on Twitter summed up their dismay at the Monaco outcome.

The statement said: "Tough one to swallow. This has been one of our hardest days as a team in a very long time. We have to accept it, own the failure, learn from it and move on from here."

Carlos Sainz finished second, with Verstappen keeping the Spaniard at a safe distance.

It was close to a nine-second gap at the finish, as Sainz delivered for a Ferrari side who had to stomach the pre-race blow of withdrawing pole-sitter Charles Leclerc.

Monaco native Leclerc majorly damaged his car with a heavy crash in qualifying, and despite subsequent assurances that he would be on the grid, Ferrari changed their minds just minutes before the race began, citing a problem with the left driveshaft.

As Leclerc licked his wounds, Sainz delivered a sterling drive for his first Ferrari podium finish. Even then, it felt bittersweet.

"It is a good result," said the 26-year-old Spaniard. "If you had told me before coming to Monaco that I would finish second, I would definitely have taken that.

"It's just the whole circumstances of the weekend, having Charles on pole, me missing out in qualifying yesterday on a good lap, it just maybe doesn't taste as good as it should.

"But if I reflect back in the week I will be very happy and proud of the weekend. And I think Ferrari as a team need to be proud about the team and the step they've done this year.

"When you see the other car not starting from pole, all of a sudden the responsibility relies on you, trying to salvage the weekend. I felt the team deserved at least a podium this weekend."

Third place went to Lando Norris, whose McLaren team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, a former winner in Monaco, could only finish in a lowly 12th place.

"I didn't think I'd be here," Norris said, at his post-race interview. "It's always a dream to be on a podium here.

"It's extra special, I didn't think it was going to happen. It's special here, so I'll cherish it."

Max Verstappen roared to victory at the Monaco Grand Prix and jumped above reigning Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton at the top of the drivers' standings.

The Red Bull driver benefited from the shock withdrawal of pole-sitter Charles Leclerc ahead of the race, producing an immaculate drive to stay out of trouble and finish ahead of the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz.

McLaren's Lando Norris completed the podium, securing his second third place of the season, with Sergio Perez, Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly all coming home ahead of Hamilton, who trailed in a distant seventh.

The outcome saw Verstappen, thanks to his first Monaco triumph, move four points in front of Hamilton after five rounds of the 23-race championship. He leads the championship for the first time in his career, a further sign that Hamilton could face a major battle to cling to his crown as he chases a record-breaking eighth title.

Just 20 minutes before the race began, Ferrari dropped the bombshell that Leclerc had been ruled out due to a driveshaft problem.

It was a crushing blow for the Monegasque driver, whose pole was secured in dramatic fashion on Saturday when he crashed his Ferrari in the final minute of qualifying, denying his rivals a clear track and the chance to set a faster time. Leclerc feared gearbox trouble but was initially given the all-clear to race, until he was pulled from the line-up.

What it meant was that Verstappen, second on the grid, had the chance to gain the early ascendancy on the tight circuit where he had never previously achieved a podium finish, and he demonstrated his prowess as a front-runner.

Valtteri Bottas was sitting second when the Finn pitted on the 31st lap, and he joined Leclerc in the bad-luck club when Mercedes were unable to remove his front-right wheel. After a desperate minute of waiting, Bottas climbed out of his car, his race over.

Sebastian Vettel managed to get ahead of Pierre Gasly and Hamilton when the three pitted, the Aston Martin going almost wheel to wheel with Gasly's Alpha Tauri as he completed a stunning overcut.

That moment imperilled Hamilton's leadership of the championship, putting him down in seventh place, as Mercedes suffered a miserable couple of minutes. 

It proved the last major twist of the race, with Hamilton securing a bonus point for a late fastest lap. Small consolation on a dismal day for Mercedes, as Verstappen and Perez's performance also saw Red Bull go ahead of the Silver Arrows in the constructors' standings.

Charles Leclerc's hopes of finally succeeding at his home grand prix were ended for another year in late, frustrating fashion at Monaco on Sunday.

Leclerc set the fastest time in qualifying but then crashed, cutting short the session to secure pole position yet leaving his Ferrari damaged.

The Scuderia tested Leclerc's gearbox on Saturday and again on Sunday, attempting to avoid a change that would mean giving up their place on the front row with a grid penalty.

The Monegasque star was cleared to take his position on pole less than three hours before the race, but Ferrari's determination not to replace the gearbox seemed to have proved costly.

A driveshaft issue was revealed when running the car, which meant Leclerc was unable to start the race, leaving his precious pole position vacant.

The problem was "impossible to fix in time for the start of the race", Ferrari said just 18 minutes before the scheduled start.

Max Verstappen had a clear run from second on the grid, as Leclerc rued another painful weekend at his home event.

His previous two Monaco appearances saw him fail to finish, although he completed enough of the 2018 grand prix to come 18th. At no other circuit has Leclerc had to retire twice.

The 23-year-old was denied the opportunity to surpass Louis Chiron's result as the best from a Monegasque driver at their home race. 

Chiron came third for Maserati in 1950, the first ever Formula One Monaco Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc will be able to start from pole position at his home Monaco Grand Prix, Ferrari confirmed on Sunday.

The Monegasque qualified fastest on Saturday but looked like facing more pain at this event when he crashed dramatically, forcing the session to be halted early.

Although that incident ensured Leclerc remained at the top of the timesheets, he faced a nervous wait for an assessment of his gearbox.

An enforced change would have meant a grid penalty, denying him his first pole at Monaco, where he has retired in his only two previous Formula One appearances in the principality – albeit still finishing 18th in 2018.

But Ferrari reported no "serious damage" in initial gearbox tests on Saturday, and the team could report positive news following further checks on the morning of the race.

"Following further in-depth checks this morning, no apparent defects were found on Charles Leclerc's gearbox," a Scuderia statement read.

"Therefore, the Monegasque driver will start today's race from pole position, as per the qualifying result."

It means Ferrari equal McLaren's record of 11 Monaco poles and Leclerc could become the 10th Scuderia star to win the race, trailing 15 McLaren drivers.

Given his past problems at this grand prix, though, Leclerc might settle for becoming the 54th Ferrari man to finish on the podium.

That would see him at least equal Louis Chiron's third-placed finish at the first ever F1 Monaco Grand Prix, still the best result for a Monegasque driver at home.

Charles Leclerc's chances of starting his home grand prix in pole position appeared to have received a boost on Saturday, with Ferrari finding no gearbox damage in initial checks.

Leclerc took pole for the Monaco Grand Prix in dramatic circumstances earlier in the day when he crashed while top of the timesheets.

The crash forced qualifying to be halted early. Leclerc flicked off one barrier and went hurtling into another just as his rivals – including second-placed Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas in third – seemed ready to mount a challenge in the closing moments of the session.

Leclerc admitted he was worried the impact and the damage to his car may mean its gearbox required replacing, which would see him given a grid penalty.

However, tests conducted by Ferrari found no "serious damage" to the gearbox, though further checks will be carried out on Sunday to ensure it is useable.

This update came after the post-qualifying news conference, in which Leclerc said: "I have mixed feelings a little bit, because with the crash I don’t know where I’m starting tomorrow yet. It depends on the damage on the car."

It was the first time Leclerc had made it to Q3 on his home circuit.

"Well, it didn't feel great to go Q3, as at least we were expecting to go through to Q3," he said.

"It would have been a big disappointment if I was not going into Q3, 2019 was a hard one to take as we definitely had the potential to be up there but we couldn't finalise it after the mistake we have done in Q1. Hopefully we will end up this weekend on a high, which never happened at home."

Meanwhile, two weeks after securing a 100th pole position of his Formula One career, championship leader Lewis Hamilton had to settle for seventh on the grid.

"[The car] didn't feel too bad on Thursday, and then we made some changes and it felt pretty terrible today, so of course we go back to the drawing board," Hamilton said.

"I think from my point I just had such a lack of grip out there, which then leads you to overdrive and start trying to get more from it to no end – it doesn't improve.

"Today was a question of tyres, the tyres were just not working. I was sliding around. I've not spoken to the engineers just yet. Valtteri did a better job at the end of the day."

Hamilton's poor run means that title challenger Verstappen is well placed to take advantage.

"It's always important to score a lot of points, but of course you need to be ahead of your main rivals as much as you can," said the Red Bull driver.

"So today was good – but of course we need to finish that off tomorrow."

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