Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Monaco, 2021

Leclerc fears gearbox penalty could cost him pole position

2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc admitted he is concerned about the damage to his car’s gearbox after he crashed heavily while securing pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Leclerc set a time of 1’10.346 before the final runs of Q3, putting him at the top of the times. However on his final timed lap he crashed heavily into the barrier on the exit of the swimming pool section, damaging the rear of the Ferrari.

Qualifying, preventing any further timed runs, and Leclerc therefore secured pole position.

Speaking immediately after qualifying, Leclerc he was worried his gearbox may need to be replaced, which would incur an automatic penalty. “I am just waiting for the mechanics to open the gearbox and find out whether it’s damaged or not,” he said.

Leclerc’s crash was very similar to the one Nicholas Latifi suffered during final practice. The Williams driver did not require a new gearbox when his car was repaired ahead of qualifying.

The Ferrari driver admitted the circumstances of the eighth pole position of his career felt strange. “It’s a shame to finish in the wall,” he said, “it doesn’t feel the same.

“But at the same time, I’m incredibly happy about my first timed lap, the first corner was quite tricky. I didn’t do a great first corner, but then second and third sector, I nailed it and I’m just very, very happy to be on pole.”

Ferrari showed potential in Thursday’s practice sessions. Leclerc was quickest in second practice. He said he had to manage his expectations ahead of qualifying.

“Obviously it was very, very difficult to manage myself mentally after FP2. I could feel I was quite emotional in the car.

“I told myself ‘now it’s Q3, now it’s time to put everything together’ and I managed to do so, so I’m incredibly happy. It’s tomorrow that we score points but I have to say that it’s a big surprise for everyone to be on pole and in fourth place for the race tomorrow.”

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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8 comments on “Leclerc fears gearbox penalty could cost him pole position”

  1. I would love to see Ferrari on pole for a change, but I think gearbox penalty would be justice. It’s ridiculous that a driver can secure pole position by crashing out.

    1. Ayrton Senna did so once at Magny Cours. He realised the finish line was so close to the exit of the final corner, that just throwing the car into there (even if it means crashing the car and destroying it completely) would be the fastest way. He actually did it and got pole.

      1. That is an amazing story, thanks for sharing.
        And really clever from Senna: the fastest way across the line is if you can’t complete the corner like you normally would.

        1. As the great Colin Chapman of Lotus once said: “The ideal race car breaks down just after the finish line.” :)

  2. If it’s just the gearbox, then Charles should consider himself lucky. Starting from P6 gives him at least a tiny chance of a podium finish, if he nails the start/the first lap.
    I fear there might be enough damage on the car to start from the pitlane, but we’ll see.

    1. @srga91 A similar amount of exterior damage to Latifi, and he didn’t need a monocoque change. Perhaps Leclerc doesn’t either. We shall find out.

  3. Latifi was involved in a similar mishap at the same spot and he required no gearbox change so I believe CL will do likewise.

    1. depends on who hard the rear hit the wall looks at Mick his rears also hit the wall but his gearbox was thrashed.

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