Verstappen guns for record F1 pole in Monaco as Leclerc aims to end unlucky streak


Another round of Verstappen vs Norris, or can Ferrari's upgrades deliver a home win for Leclerc? Plus McLaren's Senna livery and the potential for rain. Here's what to watch for at the 2024 Monaco GP

Max Verstappen in qualifying for 2023 F1 Monaco GP

Verstappen is on a run of eight pole positions

Mark Thompson/Getty via Red Bull

Lando Norris finished seven-tenths of a second behind Max Verstappen‘s rear wing in Imola, two weeks after securing his first F1 win in Miami. While McLaren is playing down its chances of success this year, it’s the sort of form that leads to a title challenge.

The pair’s ongoing battle is set to continue on the streets of Monte Carlo, where Charles Leclerc — the Monegasque local who has suffered one heartache after the next on home soil — will hope that further incremental Ferrari upgrades will help add his name to the growing list of winning drivers in 2024.

As always, the race day advantage will swing to the man who can set the track alight on Saturday afternoon, in F1’s most spectacular qualifying session. If Verstappen can fend off his rivals, he’ll set a new F1 record for the most consecutive pole positions (nine).

Held since 1929, and on the very first world championship calendar in 1950, the Monaco Grand Prix has changed little over the decades, although its challenge has evolved. In modern cars, the Principality’s tight and twisting streets demand perfect precision and unwavering concentration lap after lap.

This weekend will also see further tributes to Ayrton Senna, following on from Imola where the 30th anniversary of his death at the circuit was marked. The Brazilian became synonymous with success at the Monaco Grand Prix during his F1 career, winning his first with Lotus in 1987 and a further five consecutively from 1989-1993 with McLaren, which will be running its cars in a yellow, blue and green livery inspired by Senna’s helmet.

Verstappen and Norris will be keen to follow in Senna’s wheel tracks in 2024, but the support of the Monaco locals is likely to be directed solely at Leclerc — a driver who has captured pole twice at the Principality but never stood on the podium. Could a little qualifying day rain break his unfortunate streak?

Here’s everything to watch out for at the Monaco GP.


The fight for pole…or more? 

Max Verstappen Lando Norris 2024 Miami Grand Prix

Could Lando Norris and Max Verstappen square off for the rest of 2024?

Getty Images

Max Verstappen stands on the verge of breaking Senna’s benchmark for the most consecutive pole positions, having secured eight on the trot. A ninth in Monaco would be a record.

But the challenges to his dominant reign are impossible to ignore, following Lando Norris’s victory in Miami and his close second-place at Imola. Repelling McLaren’s increased performance is more likely to be Verstappen’s focus than the prospect of picking up another F1 record — which he has always professed to have little interest in.

Norris has long been identified as McLaren‘s next world champion in waiting, yet until now he hasn’t had the car to exploit his pace. That can’t be said this year. He now has a car that can win races — as was evident on the Floridian coast — at an early stage in the world championship.

His strong performances in Monaco in the past — including a podium finish in 2021 — as well as some red-hot form suggests that Norris — and team-mate Oscar Piastri — should be in the hunt for pole position this weekend if his McLaren can adapt to Monaco’s tight turns after the high-speed corners of Imola and Miami.

If it does, Norris won’t just be in a formidable position to claim his second F1 win — only three weeks since his first. He’ll reduce the current 60-point gap to Verstappen in the drivers’ standings, and the hint of a title challenge will be in the air.

The Dutchman arguably hasn’t had to contend with a challenge to his dominance since Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez found form in the early stages of 2023. But after the Mexican crashed in qualifying and finished a distant sixteenth in the Monaco GP, Verstappen was allowed to streak into the distance. It was a turning point last year; will it prove the same in 2024?


McLaren’s Senna tribute

2024 McLaren F1 car Senna livery main picture

McLaren will run a special Ayrton Senna livery in Monaco


In memory of the great Ayrton Senna, McLaren will race in a special one-off livery this weekend which incorporates the yellow, green and blue of the Brazilian’s legendary helmet. The Senna logo will also appear on the halo and inside the cockpit are Senna’s own inspirational words: “I have no idols, I admire work, dedication and competence”.

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Senna won all three of his F1 world titles with the Woking outfit and remains its most decorated driver, having won 35 races; stood on 55 podiums; and secured 46 pole positions.

“The team is proud to recognise and celebrate the extraordinary life and racing legacy of Ayrton Senna through this livery,” said McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown. “Senna remains revered and respected as Formula 1’s greatest icon, and McLaren’s most decorated driver. His impact on McLaren is enormous, not only through his racing record but also presence within the team, and now his legacy, so it’s an honour to race for him at his most successful circuit in his green, yellow and blue colours.”

Alongside a new on-track colour scheme, Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri will sport similarly themed overalls as well as one-off tribute helmet too.


Could new upgrades end Leclerc’s Monaco heartache?

charles leclerc crashes in qualifying for the 2021 f1 monaco grand prix

Could Leclerc finally score a long-awaited win at home?

Clive Rose/F1 via Getty Images

Few drivers want to win the Monaco Grand Prix more than Charles Leclerc, who grew up a stone’s throw from many of the circuit’s many legendary landmarks. But until now, his fortunes at his home race have been bleak at best.

On debut in 2018, his Sauber suffered a brake failure in the run down to Nouvelle Chicane, forcing him to crash into Brendon Hartley‘s Toro Rosso with just six laps remaining. The following year, he picked up a puncture while trying to pass the Renault of Nico Hülkenberg and was later forced to retire yet again.

In 2021, he secured his first pole position on home soil but did so by crashing on his final Q3 run and ending the session prematurely. The damage his Ferrari sustained ruled him out of Sunday’s race entirely. Leclerc claimed pole position again in 2022 and led from the start, but was once again kept from the top step due to a pitstop strategy error which dropped him to sixth place. Further heartache befell him in 2023, as he missed out on pole position by just over a tenth of a second. But could Leclerc’s luck finally be about to change?

Following the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, where Ferrari introduced a significant upgrade package, Leclerc is now second in the drivers’ standings — trailing Verstappen by 48 points. The Maranello outfit is rumoured to bring further upgrades to Monaco: aiming to make the SF-24 better in low-speed corners which has been one of its greatest weaknesses so far this season. Should they be successful, Ferrari could mount a challenge to Red Bull and McLaren. With a car that’s easier to drive and kinder on its tyres than past iterations, he may in the perfect position to break his unlucky streak.


Is rain on the way?

Red Bull Monaco grand Prix

Could rain shake up the Monaco grid in 2024?

Red Bull

Monaco Grand Prix weekends of late have been generally wet, with sudden downpours creating race day drama in both 2022 and 2023. Could scattered showers during qualifying in 2024 make for a seriously mixed up starting grid order?

According to the current forecast, rain is scheduled to intermittently fall on the Monte Carlo Harbour from 2pm (BST) onwards before the skies clear around 5pm. With qualifying scheduled to take place between 3pm and 4pm, this could present an even greater challenge to drivers on a circuit which will already be testing the very best of their ability.

The last wet start to a Monaco GP qualifying session came in 2013, in which several cars slipped and skated off the road. Could a similar scenario in 2024 make the likes of Verstappen, Norris or Leclerc miss the cut?