Monaco Grand Prix LIVE: Verstappen leads in effort to cut Hamilton gap, Leclerc OUT

F1 preview: A lap of the Monaco Grand Prix

Monaco Grand Prix LIVE updates

– Pole-sitter Charles Leclerc pulls out pre-race after Ferrari suffer problems on formation lap
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen leads from Valtteri Bottas after starting on front row alone
– World champion Lewis Hamilton down in seventh for Mercedes
– Verstappen 14 points behind Hamilton in the championship
– Race gets underway at 2pm UK time

Lap 20: “Let’s show us how much more pace you’ve got,” Bottas is told on the radio.

Not long until the pitstops now. Can they help shake up the order? There’s been no changes since the first lap.

Norris meanwhile gets a black and white flag for track limits at turn 10, presumably cutting the chicane. “No more mistakes,” the McLaren pitwall say.

Lap 17: Williams’ George Russell is still running despite battling power unit issues. The Briton is running down in 15th.

His countryman Hamilton meanwhile says on the Mercedes radio: “These guys are super slow ahead.”

The seven-time world champion is around two seconds behind Gasly still.

Lap 13: “Tyres are good, I’m managing quite a lot. Probably a second if I go all out or more,” says Sebastian Vettel in the Aston Martin.

Seventh-placed Vettel is over six seconds behind Hamilton despite that.

Further ahead, leader Verstappen sets a new fastest lap in his Red Bull with a 1:16.265. Team-mate Sergio Perez soon beats it and goes 1:15.881.

Monaco Grand Prix LIVE

Monaco Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

Lap 9: “Yeah, it’s hard to follow,” says Hamilton as he trails the AlphaTauri of Gasly, who is two seconds ahead of him in fifth.

Hamilton is 10-and-a-half seconds behind race leader Verstappen. It’d be some turnaround for him to win today.

Lap 4: Not a good start for Daniel Ricciardo with the Australian’s McLaren dropping from 11th to 13th.

We’ve got 74 more laps to come in Monaco so let’s hope for some more excitement.

Verstappen a little over a second ahead of Bottas, with Sainz four seconds behind the leader.

Lap 1: Verstappen gets away well on the start on the outside line, coming across to cover off Bottas, who had clean air with no Leclerc ahead of him. 

Bottas locks up into turn one but stays ahead of Sainz, who is being closely followed by McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Pierre Gasly is behind Norris with Hamilton still down in sixth. Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez, Antonio Giovinazzi and Esteban Ocon complete the current top 10.

IT’S LIGHTS OUT AT THE MONACO GRAND PRIX!

Monaco Grand Prix LIVE

Monaco Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

1.50pm: Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff tells Sky Sports F1: “I’m surprised because they checked the box. It’s a shame, he’s Monegasque and he deserved it, his lap was spectacular.

“Max can score 25 points, that’s not good for us. We wanted Charles to lead. Let’s see what opportunity it gives to Valtteri.

“Lewis and Valtteri can work together here. Maybe Lewis can play a role. He isn’t happy of course but he’s a fighter. We’ve had setbacks in Monaco before, let’s see how he can climb from P7.”

1.45pm: More disappointment for Leclerc – he will not race at all at his home circuit.

“We’re not racing I am afraid,” Laurent Mekies tells the stewards on team radio. “Sorry to hear,” replies race director Masi.

Ferrari have a problem with the left driveshaft that is impossible to fix before the race start.

Leclerc looks gutted as he walks through the paddock despite cheers from the crowd. Verstappen now has a golden chance to make up ground on championship leader Hamilton.

1.35pm: The pits are closed and that’s it confirmed, Leclerc will be starting from the pits if he can start at all. Devastation for the Monegasque, but those gearbox problems are too much for Ferrari.

“We have an issue. We’re not going to the grid. We try to fix it here. We will not make it to the grid,” Ferrari tell FIA race director Michael Masi.

It’s Verstappen on the front row on his own now, as the grid will not be shuffled up, with Bottas getting clean air in third on the inside of the Red Bull.

Can the Dutchman clinch a race win and overtake Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship?

Monaco Grand Prix LIVE

Monaco Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

1.30pm: Here’s what Hamilton, the last race winner in Monaco back in 2019, meanwhile had to say yesterday after qualifying only seventh.

“It didn’t feel too bad on Thursday and we made some changes and it was pretty terrible today,” he told Sky Sports F1. “We go back to the drawing board.

“It’s almost impossible to overtake here so…. Up front where we are it’s pretty much the case when everyone is on the same speed. Saturday is the day [in Monaco], so obviously that really does put for sure the win out of reach.

“I guess the minimum would be hopefully seventh and then we’ve got to somehow see how we can move forwards.”

He added on social media: “Failure never feels good but it provides us with opportunities for growth. We have struggled this weekend, for many different reasons but we win and we lose together.

“Tomorrow will be tough, so if you got time, do a little rain dance for me. Let the heavens open.”

1.25pm: Pre-race drama! “No, no, no, the glovebox guys,” Leclerc says on his team radio as he crawls round the track on the formation lap.

Leclerc heads back to the pits and is going through the gears as Ferrari look to get to the bottom of their problems. Will he have to start from the pits?

There’s not long for Ferrari to change the gearbox if they have to.

Monaco Grand Prix LIVE: Ferrari's Leclerc starts on pole ahead of Verstappen, Hamilton 7th

Monaco Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

1.20pm: Leclerc’s collision with the barriers, which left him with front and side damage, means today’s starting grid looks like this…
1st: Charles Leclerc, 2nd: Max Verstappen
3rd: Valtteri Bottas, 4th: Carlos Sainz
5th: Lando Norris, 6th: Pierre Gasly
7th: Lewis Hamilton, 8th: Sebastian Vettel
9th: Sergio Perez, 10th: Antonio Giovinazzi
11th: Esteban Ocon, 12th: Daniel Ricciardo
13th: Lance Stroll, 14th: Kimi Raikkonen
15th: George Russell, 16th: Yuki Tsunoda
17th: Fernando Alonso, 18th: Nicholas Latifi
19th: Nikita Mazepin, 20th: Mick Schumacher

It’s certainly an intringuingly mixed grid. Might we get some Monaco drama after all? Let’s hope so.

1.10pm: Ferrari’s social media statement on pole-sitter Leclerc earlier was as follows…

“Following further in depth checks this morning, no apparent defects were found on @Charles_Leclerc’s gearbox, therefore the Monegasque driver will start today’s race from pole position, as per the qualifying result.”

1pm: Good afternoon and welcome to Express Sport’s live coverage of the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix!

Charles Leclerc starts on pole after Ferrari confirmed no gearbox damage to his SF21 despite his shunt into the wall at swimming pool at the end of qualifying.

The Ferrari crash meant Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas were denied a chance to snatch pole as the session was red-flagged.

And that means it’s advantage to the Monegasque in Monaco, a tricky notoriously tricky to overtake on.

Of the other big stories, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton starts well down in seventh after a dreadful Saturday.

The Briton has ruled out taking a race win today but he’ll hope to lessen the damage as Verstappen looks to cut the gap to the championship leader.

Today’s race gets underway at 2pm and we’ll have live lap-by-lap updates for you once the lights are out.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

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