Monaco GP qualifying: Charles Leclerc CRASHES but still takes pole as F1 champ Lewis Hamilton finishes just seventh

LEWIS HAMILTON will start seventh on the grid after Charles LeClerc took pole in Monaco.

The Brit, gunning for a record eighth world title, struggled after clipping the barriers on his flying lap.

It was a difficult day for Mercedes with team-mate Valtteri Bottas taking third behind Max Verstappen.

Carlos Sainz took fourth, ahead of Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly with Sebastian Vettel behind Hamilton in eighth.

But it was Ferrari driver LeClerc who ran the fastest time to lead the pack for the first time in his home race.

It wasn't all plain sailing for the 23-year-old after crashing at the end of his final lap.

The session was forced to be stopped with just 18 seconds to go meaning Verstappen and Bottas were unable to better their lap times when they were on flying laps.

LeClerc now faces an anxious wait to determine the damage to his car but mechanics are likely to be working long into the night.

The suspension took significant damage and he could be punished with a grid penalty depending on the severity of it.

LeClerc admitted himself he was worried about a potential penalty and revealed his suprise at finishing on pole.

He said: "It's a shame to finish in the wall, it's doesn't feel the same but I'm incredibly happy about my lap.

"I didn't do a great first corner but then in the second and third sector I nailed it. Just very, very happy to be on pole as it was very difficult to manage myself mentally after Q2.

"I could feel I was quite emotional in the car – now it's Q3, now it's time to put everything together. I managed to do so and I'm incredibly happy.

"It's tomorrow that we score points but we are incredibly surprised to be on pole and fourth place (Carlos Sainz) for the race tomorrow.

"I am worried about a penalty [for the gear box]. I've always been very unlucky here, so let's just wait and see."

Hamilton exposed Mercedes' problems on the day and admitted the team will need to get back to the drawing board to pick up success in Monaco.

The 36-year-old said: "The car didn't feel too bad on Thursday and we made some changes for Saturday.

"We go back to the drawing board now. There is a lack of grip, so that leaves you to overdrive the car and unfortunately it just didn't improve.

"It's a difficult one, obviously. Valtteri was able to get something out of it, but we definitely had some problems today.

"I guess the minimum will be hopefully finish seventh, and then hope we can get any higher."

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