Monegasque fleece Leclerc faces anxious wait for accident-damaged Ferrari – fr

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Monegasque fleece Leclerc faces anxious wait for damaged Ferrari – fr


Monaco (AFP)

Charles Leclerc will start on pole for his Monaco Grand Prix at home after setting the fastest qualifying time on Saturday despite his Ferrari screeching against a wall which could lead to a grid penalty depending on the extent of the damage.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will start alongside the region-born Leclerc at the front row of the iconic Formula 1 street race with world champion Lewis Hamilton in uncharted territory returning to fourth.

Qualifying was signaled late after Leclerc’s smash, depriving players like Hamilton and Verstappen of a chance to improve Leclerc’s time with one lap.

Leclerc, who has an unnecessary record in his local race, admitted he was “worried” about a penalty for a gearbox change.

“It’s a shame to end up in the wall, it’s not the same but I’m incredibly happy with my turn.

“I could feel I was pretty emotional in the car – now it’s Q3, now it’s time to get it all in place. I managed to do it and I am incredibly happy. “

With teammate Carlos Sainz in second alongside Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes after setting the fourth fastest time, Ferrari confirmed their impressive form in training.

“It’s tomorrow that we score points but we are incredibly surprised to be on pole and fourth place for tomorrow’s race,” added Leclerc who gave Ferrari a real chance to secure its first Grand Prix victory since 2019 after a sharp drop last season.

Verstappen, who leads Hamilton by 14 points in the drivers’ world championship, lamented the hanging red flag after Q3.

“The red flag spoiled the chances of pole. Nevertheless, a good weekend and we recovered well from Thursday so not too bad. “

Hamilton, who has won three of the four races this season, said it was “going back to the drawing board now”.

“There is a lack of grip which leaves you overworking the car and unfortunately it hasn’t improved,” said the seven-time world champion.

With tough overtaking on the tight and winding Monaco circuit, Hamilton’s chances of securing 99 Grand Prix wins appear to be in jeopardy.

“I imagine the minimum will be, hopefully, finishing seventh, and then hoping that we can go higher,” he said.

Monaco’s legendary circuit is back on the F1 menu after last year’s race was pulled from the coronavirus-disrupted season.

The presence of 7,500 fans also indicates that a certain level of normalcy is gradually returning to the sports landscape.

The same could be said of Ferrari’s return to form.

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