Scuderia Ferrari‘s team principal Mattia Binotto says it was an ‘error of judgement’ that saw Charles Leclerc‘s shocking exit in Qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix.
The Italian team’s session ended in disappointment as Monegasque driver Leclerc was left ending qualifying in 16th place whilst team-mate Sebastian Vettel recovered from a crash in Free Practice 3 and will start the race in fourth place.
Ferrari were on the back foot into the final minutes of Qualifying 1, when Vettel was in the drop zone and needed to set a lap in order to be safe. Leclerc on the other was in tenth, but Ferrari made a call to stay in the garage and save a set of new tyres.
Vettel returned to the pits after kissing the barrier at the Swimming Pool section with less than two minutes remaining. The German made it out in time to set final time. The track became to evolve and everyone was improving on their times. Leclerc was down in 15th and with Vettel left to set a lap. The German went fastest of all, but knocked Leclerc in the drop zone.
Leclerc produced the best time in FP3 ahead of qualifying, but never got to utilise their pace as they were convinced he would be safe in Q2, only to find that wasn’t the case and led to an early exit for the twenty-one year old.
With one Ferrari left in qualifying, Vettel managed to put himself in fourth place behind Max Verstappen. Vettel couldn’t improve on his final lap as he hit the barriers at Tabac, the third time on Saturday he has made contact with the barriers.
Due to late penalties to Alfa Romeo Racing‘s Antonio Giovinazzi, Leclerc is promoted to fifteenth place for the race, but expects a tough job due the tough challenge of passing around the streets of Monaco.
Ferrari boss Binotto feels disappointed for his young driver in that the teams’ error of judgement saw his early exit and hopes Vettel can aim for a good race for Sunday.
“Definitely not a good day. In Q1 we made an error of judgement,” said Binotto. “We thought Charles’ time would have been good enough to get into the next part of the session and so we kept him in the garage, sending out just Sebastian who, at that moment, was one of those who was excluded.
“Track conditions evolved more than we expected the drivers were finding more grip on track. This meant many of them improved their times and as a result, Charles was eliminated.
“It’s a real shame and I am very disappointed for him, especially as it’s his home race. Sebastian managed to qualify on the second row and that means he can aim for a good result in the race.”