Max Verstappen became the de facto polesitter of the Monaco GP after Charles Leclerc was unable to start the race due to a problem with the left driveshaft.
Ferrari appeared to take a gamble in choosing not to replace Leclerc’s SF21 gearbox after falling in qualifying after setting the fastest time earlier in the top 10 shots on goal that secured him eighth pole position of his F1 career.
But on Leclerc’s knees towards the grid, the Monegasque proclaimed on the radio: “No, no, no. These are the gearbox guys. “
Back in the garage, Ferrari confirmed to the FIA: “We have a problem. We are not going on the grid. “
A few minutes later, Ferrari confirmed that Leclerc would not start their home race.
A Ferrari spokesperson said: “Charles will not be starting the race due to a problem with the left driveshaft which cannot be fixed in time for the start of the race. “
Leclerc had feared the worst after crashing in the later stages of qualifying, grabbing a barrier at the exit of the pool complex and smashing the suspension arm of his SF21 which sent him to a subsequent guardrail.
Leclerc expressed concern immediately afterwards for the condition of his gearbox which, if damaged, would have required a change and a five-seat grid penalty.
After a first inspection after qualifying, Ferrari said there was “no serious damage” and after further checks this morning Leclerc’s car was given the green light.
But a problem quickly materialized around the grid, as Leclerc exited the tunnel, forcing him to return to the garage.
Following an inspection of the car, the problem was diagnosed within 10 minutes, resulting in the Monaco curse hitting Leclerc again after failing to see the flag in his previous two races around his home circuit.
This means Verstappen will lead the field away from his original second place on the grid, with Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas by his side in the front row.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz starts third, followed by Lando Norris in his McLaren, Pierre Gasly for AlphaTauri, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton starting sixth.
Leclerc always took his place alongside the other drivers for the national anthem, after which he spoke and was consoled by Prince Albert II and FIA President Jean Todt.