by: JEROME PUGMIRE, Associated Press
MONACO (AP) — Charles Leclerc positioned himself to reclaim the Formula One points lead from defending champion Max Verstappen by taking pole for the Monaco Grand Prix.
Leclerc was already at the top of the standings on Saturday when a Sergio Perez crash stopped the session with around 30 seconds left. Perez had spun his Red Bull and was blocking the course, and Carlos Sainz Jr. saw it too late to avoid hitting Perez.
Despite contact with Perez, Sainz qualified second as Ferrari locked down the front row for Sunday’s race.
For Leclerc, he actually has to finish a race at his home circuit.
He took pole a year ago but was unable to start due to damage to his Ferrari during the warm-up. Leclerc, winner of two of the first three races of this F1 season, lost the championship lead to Verstappen in Spain last week when Verstappen won his third consecutive race.
Verstappen will start fourth on Sunday alongside Perez, who was third before his late qualifying lap.
McLaren’s Lando Norris qualified fifth, one place ahead of George Russell for Mercedes. Russell’s teammate, seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton, qualified eighth and couldn’t improve his position due to the red flag caused by Perez’s rotation.
Fernando Alonso qualified seventh, while Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Ocon finished ninth and 10th.
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