Formula 1: Max Verstappen pips Fernando Alonso to Monaco pole

Max Verstappen denied Fernando Alonso his first pole position in 11 years, and will fancy his chances of a fourth victory this season in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix. Charles Leclerc starts sixth after receiving a three-place grid penalty.

This was the first ‘normal’ Monaco Grand Prix since 2019. Whilst the grandstands of Monte-Carlo were packed last year, the additional elements that make the event so special returned, notably the fan zone in Place d’Armes.

Saturday is oftentimes more special than Sunday in Monaco. Nowhere else is qualifying so crucial. Sergio Perez won’t want to be reminded of that fact. Last year’s winner took too much speed in Sainte-Dévote and suffered a hefty collision that saw him retire from the session.

“Over the limit” Alonso cruelly denied sentimental pole

The Mexican driver will start from the back of the grid, and with overtaking so difficult around the tight streets of the Principality, scoring points will be a tough ask, even for a car as superior as the Red Bull.

On a track such as Monaco, the speed of the Red Bull is mitigated. The Ferrari and Aston Martin looked primed to profit. Leclerc didn’t show formidable pace in the free practice sessions, but he knows the streets better than anyone.

He understands the risks that need to be taken to take pole; he pushes the car to the limit, and sometimes beyond it. The Monégasque is no stranger to the barriers here.

A massive cheer reverberated around the streets of Monte-Carlo as Leclerc took provisional pole deep in Q3, but his time was so narrowly bettered by Alonso, who was dreaming of his first pole since the German Grand Prix in 2012. Post-session, he said he took an “uncomfortable” amount of risk, admitting that at times across the two laps, he went “a little bit over the limit.”

However, there was to be no dream pole for the Spaniard, as Verstappen then pipped his time at the death by just 0.084 seconds. He therefore starts second. With overtaking so difficult, Red Bull will fancy their chances of continuing their unbeaten start to the season on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Leclerc’s miserable season continues after he was handed a three-place grid penalty for impeding McLaren’s Lando Norris. Esteban Ocon is bumped up to third, and Leclerc now faces a tall order to claw his way back onto the podium at this home Grand Prix.


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Photo by ACM / Magoni / Caenen

Exhibition: The story behind Prince Rainier’s “Noah’s Ark”

Monaco’s Jardin Animalier is soon to launch a behind-the-scenes photography exhibition depicting Prince Rainier III with the creatures great and small that he adopted and cared for. 

Prince Rainier was a life-long lover of animals. As a young boy, he spent many happy days at the Villa Ibéria, in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, surrounded by birds of all feathers as well as two beloved chimpanzees, Clovis and Tanagra.  

During a trip to West Africa in 1954, when Prince Rainier was in his early 30s, he welcomed onto his yacht some 30 orphaned and injured animals from the continent. Chimpanzees, crocodiles, monkeys, ostriches and more… the Deo Juvante II was transformed into a veritable “Noah’s Ark”, as described by the Prince himself.  

A few weeks later, they had all found a new, safe home at the Centre d’Acclimatation Zoologique de Monaco. A young Asian elephant called Buom-Nam, a gift from then-Emperor of Vietnam Bao Dai, and two lions called Pacha and Caïd also joined the exotic crew of animals that the Principality and its young Prince hosted within the safety and security of what would become today’s Jardin Animalier, which can be found in the Fontvieille neighbourhood.  

prince rainier jardin animalier
Monaco’s Jardin Animalier. Photo by Monaco Life

Many had been abandoned, some had been trafficked, others came from circuses, but all received the care and attention of Prince Rainier, who is said to have visited the park each morning to check in on its residents.  

Prince Rainier also personally oversaw a succession of redevelopments and extensions of the park, which will soon celebrate its 70th anniversary. Of course, public opinion and understanding of animals in captivity has changed greatly in these years, but Monaco and its current sovereign and the heir of Prince Rainier, Prince Albert II, continue to aim for the highest welfare standards for the park’s inhabitants. Today it is a verdant one-hectare space in which many creatures live harmoniously and – most importantly – happily.  

On 31st May, as part of the vast commemorative events that honour the centenary of Prince Rainier’s birth, the Jardin Animalier will launch an exhibition depicting the Prince in one of the places he enjoyed the most with a collection of intimate photographs. It will run until the end of this year. 

To learn more about the ‘Le Prince et ses animaux’ exhibition as well as the many other events set to take place in Prince Rainier’s memory, click here.  


Read more:

May 31st: Prince Rainier III’s 100th birthday celebrations


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Intermarché to take over a hundred stores from the Casino group

The Casino group, which has a large presence in the Alpes Maritimes, announced on Friday that it will sell a significant number of its stores to Intermarché, France’s third largest supermarket chain.

Two days after suspending trade on the stock market, the Casino group, which owns the brands Monoprix, Leaderprice, and Spar among others, announced that it had entered into conciliation proceedings to negotiate with its creditors. At the same time, Casino will sell 100 of its stores to the Mousquetaires group (Intermarché), with which it joined forces in 2021.

The deal is set to bring in €1.15 billion in turnover.

The sale will affect more than a hundred hypermarchés, supermarkets and convenience stores “in areas considered non-priority”, the group’s financial director David Lubek told a press briefing, according to Ouest-France.

The core of Casino’s activity is located in the Ile-de-France, the Rhône-Alpes and the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

The deal is expected to strengthen Intermarchés’ presence in the west at a lower cost by revitalising stores that were losing momentum.

Intermarché has reportedly “undertaken to acquire an additional volume of stores representing 500 million euros in turnover”, if Casino so requests.

A long-running French favourite

The Casino Group was founded in 1898 by Geoffroy Guichard and has spearheaded many innovations, including the first distributor’s brand in 1901, the first supermarket to display a sell-by date on consumer products in 1959, and even the first self-service store in Nice in 1957.


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