What happened in Q1?
The first session was missing Mick Schumacher, whose Haas F1 team couldn’t repair the car in time after his big shunt at Casino Square in Free Practice 3, although he will be allowed to start the race.
Bottas produced the first meaningful P1 time, at 1m11.794s, which was soon eclipsed by Verstappen’s 1m11.552s and then Sainz’s 1m11.341s. McLaren’s Lando Norris briefly grabbed top spot with 1m11.321s, before Verstappen produced 1m11.124s.
Bottas was the first man to dip under the 1m11s barrier, lapping in 1m10.938s – which remained the fastest time of the session, 0.175s quicker than Leclerc, with Verstappen close behind in third. World championship leader Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, was only seventh in his Mercedes.
Falling at the first hurdle were just the four cars due to Schumacher’s absence: AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda (missing Q2 by 0.018s), Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, Nicholas Latifi (who did well considering his hefty FP3 crash) and the second Haas of Nikita Mazepin.
What happened in Q2?
In Q2, the pole position-hunting protagonists eschewed the usual practice of running medium tyres – with all drivers sticking with the softs.
Verstappen led the way initially on 1m11.040s, which was narrowly pipped by Leclerc on 1m11.037s, before Sainz lowered the bar to 1m10.806s. On his second push lap, Verstappen produced a barrier-shaving 1m10.650s to retake the top spot.
Leclerc grabbed P1 back with a late lap of 1m10.597s, 0.053s faster than Verstappen, who fail to improve on his final run. Bottas did go faster on his final lap, getting within a tenth off the pace in third. Again, Hamilton was only P7 in this session, but did get almost two-tenths closer to the quickest time than he managed in Q1.
Knocked out at this point were Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) and George Russell (Williams).
What happened in Q3?
In the top-10 shootout, Verstappen set the bar at 1m10.576s, 0.06s faster than Bottas. Leclerc wrested P1 away with a laptime of 1m10.3456s, 0.23s faster than Verstappen.
Sainz went P3 on 1m10.611s but had that stolen away by Bottas, who went for a second push lap, on 1m10.601s, with Norris in fifth.
On the final runs, Verstappen made an error at Portier on his first lap and was forced to abort. He was up on his fastest time on his final lap when poleman Leclerc shunted heavily at the exit of the Swimming Pool, bringing out the red flags and scuppering Verstappen’s pole hopes.
Bottas stayed third, ahead of Sainz, Norris, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, Hamilton (who clipped the barrier on the approach to Portier), Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez (whose Red Bull clipped the wall at the Swimming Pool) and Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo).