Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc says Scuderia Ferrari were convinced that they did enough that would see them go into Qualifying 2, only to find themselves exiting after the first session for the Monaco Grand Prix.
The local driver ended qualifying down in sixteenth place, after Ferrari made a blunder during the session that saw Leclerc make an unlikely exit in the session. Prior to qualifying, Leclerc set the fastest time in Free Practice 3, looking to showcase their strong qualifying pace and take the fight to rivals Mercedes AMG Motorsport and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing.
But both Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel didn’t produce the right times needed and were on the back foot going into the final minutes of qualifying. The twenty-one year old returned to the pits, but missed the FIA weighbridge. He was pushed to the weighbridge when he arrived into his pit box to be checked. Leclerc was investigated but later cleared by the stewards.
Ferrari then decided to not send Leclerc out for another run to save a set of tyres, whilst Vettel who was down in 17th in the final two minutes went out in a bid to save his session. Everyone out on track improved on their time as the track started to evolve and left Leclerc down in 15th place, with Vettel left to complete his lap.
The German crossed the line to go fastest overall as the clock reached zero, but it meant it sent his team-mate out of qualifying. Leclerc’s 1:12.149 proved to not be enough to continue qualifying.
The Italian team’s misjudgment has left Leclerc with work to do for the race on Sunday, starting fifteenth thanks to some penalties to other. Leclerc feels disappointed with the results, admitting that his team was convinced that they would make it into Q2, only to find their session ended much earlier than anticipated in front of his home crowd.
“It’s easy to understand how disappointing was this qualifying, as it significantly compromises my home race,” said Leclerc.
The team was convinced that the time I’d done was good enough to get me into Q2, which would mean saving one more set of tyres, but unfortunately I was the first of those knocked out. It’s a real shame because I think that today I could have got a good result.
“Clearly it will be very difficult to recover in the race, because it’s almost impossible to overtake here. There’s a chance of rain and that would make the race more unpredictable: that could give me a slightly better chance.”