Despite hitting the barrier hard in the closing seconds, Charles Leclerc has taken pole for Ferrari at Monaco – the first time the Prancing Horse has tasted such qualifying success since Mexico in 2019.
In a nip and tuck qualifying battle with Max Verstappen, Leclerc had put in a beautiful lap to steal the ascendancy early in Q3.
On his first run in Q3, the Monegasque produced an almost perfect lap on his home track to set the fastest time of the day. However, on his second run, Charles overdid it, clipping the barrier at turn 15 before ending up in the guardrail at the outside of the next corner.
This brought out the red flag to end the session a few seconds early. While waiting to find out the extent of the damage to the car, this is nevertheless Charles’ eighth F1 career pole and Ferrari’s 229th, its eleventh at this track.
Leclerc is the first Monegasque to start from pole in a home race counting towards the championship, although Louis Chiron did the same in 1936, before the world championship came into being.
In fact, in what can be seen as something of a premonition, this weekend Leclerc is sporting a helmet design that pays tribute to his predecessor.
Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz also looked capable of taking pole, but will start from the second row tomorrow, as he, along with several other drivers was trying to improve his time on his last run until his efforts were frustrated by the red flag.
Today’s performance is a clear indication of the performance level of the SF21 at a track like Monaco. The complete package has been very quick right from the start of free practice, which has enabled the drivers to fight for the top places.
Mixed Feelings For Charles Leclerc
it was a case of mixed feelings for Charles Leclerc, who had the joy of setting the fastest lap and taking his eighth career pole, before the disappointment of crashing out and a nervous wait to see what repairs are needed, and if he will indeed start from first place on the grid.
‘Mixed feelings today. On the one hand, being on pole here is amazing. I was quite happy with my fastest lap in Q3. The first sector wasn’t ideal, but in the second and third, I put it together. I knew I could do better but I pushed too hard on my final lap trying to improve. Unfortunately, I hit the wall and now all we can do is keep our fingers crossed and hope that the damage won’t result in a penalty.
‘Of course, it is encouraging to see our performance, but I believe that it’s a bit of a one-off as the track suits the characteristics of our SF21 really well. That’s why we were so competitive today. We have to keep in mind that we are still not at the level of the two teams leading the championship, but for now, it does feel great to have extracted the maximum today.
‘Whatever the outcome, I will give my all tomorrow. It feels great to be at home and to see all the fans around the track. It’s Monaco, it’s very unpredictable, and also challenging for us drivers, especially in the race with so many laps. It’s a great challenge and we will try to put everything together to get a good result,’ said Leclerc.
Frustration For Carlos Sainz
It was a frustrating day out for Carlos Sainz, the Spaniard had been fast all weekend, and was himself hoping to be on pole. It wasn’t to be however, after his teammates crash curtailed his flying lap right at the death.
‘Today was very frustrating for me. I’ve been driving well all weekend and I was very strong in qualifying. I felt confident with the car and I had a very strong pace. Unfortunately, my last attempt was a bit compromised with traffic during the preparation lap and then I didn’t have the chance to finish the flying lap due to the red flag. It was my first chance to put it on pole here in Monaco and lining up P4 is really frustrating. I’m not happy.
‘Tomorrow it will be tough to overtake, but I will do my best and I will try to maximize our chances. Well done to the team for giving us a strong car to fight up there today,’ added Sainz.