Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Monaco, 2021

Ferrari will prioritise reliability over pole as team inspect Leclerc’s gearbox

2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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Ferrari will not take a gamble with Charles Leclerc’s gearbox following his crash in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix, team principal Mattia Binotto has said.

Doubt hangs over whether the Ferrari driver will be able to start his home race from the pole position he qualified in. He crashed heavily at the end of qualifying, and if his gearbox needs to be replaced, he will incur an automatic five-place grid penalty.

Binotto said he has “no idea” at this stage how serious the damage to Leclerc’s gearbox is. “The mechanics and engineers now are checking Charles’ gearbox and Charles’ chassis. I think that within a couple of hours, we’ll have clarity on that, but for the moment, I don’t think there is anything else.”

However he made it clear that if they have any doubts over its condition, they will not hesitate to fit a replacement, even if it means starting from sixth position instead of pole.

“We will not gamble,” said Binotto. “What’s important after such a quali is to try to maximise the number of points for the championship.

“We need to finish the race, so reliability is key. Reliability remains the priority. So if we have any doubts, we will certainly change and fix.”

He admitted the team had mixed feelings over the outcome of qualifying because the crash cost Carlos Sainz Jnr the chance to qualify higher on the grid.

“It’s always a shame, crashing a car that’s first,” he said. “Disappointed as well as. I think the entire team was somewhat disappointed, not [just] for the crash, certainly not for the pole, [but] because we believe that Carlos could have done better overall.

“We felt that could have been the case, so as team, we could have done even maybe better today. And so we feel a bit disappointed with that.”

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13 comments on “Ferrari will prioritise reliability over pole as team inspect Leclerc’s gearbox”

  1. Leclerc overdid it. Schumacher underdid it. Rosberg is still the master.

    Surely something has to change given it’s the third time this happens in a decade, purposefully or not?

    1. @Postreader 15 years since the infamous Rascasse-gate, but I don’t think anything needs to change. The only one definitely intentional was the 2006 incident, but the others were merely errors.

      1. LOL ya Nico just outbraked himself in a spot nobody ever does in 2014. Totally an accident.

      2. @jerejj errors, strictly speaking, they might have been, but recklessness and negligence can also be considered components of being culpable of something.

        Except for the rare case of gearbox or suspension damage, the driver who is ahead after the first attempt can overdrive to his heart’s content with no consequence whatsoever. Whether he crashes or he improves, he ends up being benefitted.

      3. Has it been proven it was definitely intentional in 2006? Not from the articles I’ve read.

    2. He He

      I think Leclerc was perfect. they obviously had the eng in quali-mode and knew it wasn’t sustainable for the race. On this track all they need to do is qualify, then sit infront knowing they can’t be over taken.

      Crashing the car mean they can reset the engine to its normal slower race mode. Job done.
      In previous years you didn’t have this extra issue to manage, so a crash would not have been ‘necessary’.

      They may even have a special flexi qualifying wing to put back in its box now.

  2. I hope he keeps P1 as he would offer VER more of a challenge than BOT. Looking forward to lights out!

  3. Any ideas when we will know?

    1. Could take a couple of hours more. The mechanics need to thoroughly check the gearbox, suspensions and the floor to evaluate whether and if so, to what extent the parts are damaged.
      Right now, everything is possible: start from pole, get a 5-place grid penalty for a damaged gearbox to start from P6 or even starting from the pitlane can’t be ruled out at the moment

  4. Binotto doesn’t like Charles, does he?

    The “now you are forgiven” comment at Monza 2019. Now saying that he prioritizing points for the championship rather than the potential home win for Charles.

    1. If he doesn’t like Charles, why to extent his contract until 2024? ;)

  5. What? If the gearbox only has 1st and 4th they could probably still win. They should prioritize the pole.

    1. Agree, sounds a very silly reasoning from ferrari, they’re not fighting for the title, they’re a bit like ferrari 2019, or red bull 2017, 2018, 2019, they have occasional (maybe only 1) chance (s) of victory this year, I would risk it.

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