Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Monaco, 2021

Leclerc’s pole confirmed as Ferrari opt not to change gearbox

2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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Ferrari have confirmed Charles Leclerc will start his home grand prix from pole position after deciding not to replace the gearbox in his SF21 following his crash in the final moments of qualifying.

The team confirmed in a statement they were satisfied Leclerc’s gearbox survived the crash without incurring significant damage.

“Following further in-depth checks this morning, no apparent defects were found on Charles Leclerc’s gearbox, therefore the Monegasque driver will start today’s race from pole position, as per the qualifying result,” the team announced.

Leclerc was on provisional pole position with less than half a minute remaining in Q3 when he clipped the inside barrier on the exit of the Swimming Pool chicane, breaking his suspension and crashing into the outside barrier, bringing out the red flags. With no time left for his rivals to improve their own times, the incident secured pole position for the Ferrari driver.

An initial assessment of the damage on Leclerc’s car by the team revealed “no serious damage”, but Ferrari confirmed in a statement after qualifying that they would conduct further checks on Sunday and “prioritise reliability over pole”.

Following a second assessment on the SF21 this morning, Ferrari are satisfied that Leclerc’s gearbox did not require a change, meaning he will take his place at the front of the grid for this afternoon’s Monaco Grand Prix.

The confirmation means that Leclerc will start on pole position for the eighth time in his career, his first pole since the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix. Max Verstappen will line up alongside Leclerc on the front row.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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44 comments on “Leclerc’s pole confirmed as Ferrari opt not to change gearbox”

  1. Should be interesting into turn 1

  2. Alright. It’s a race then we have.

  3. Victory is Leclerc’s to lose.

    1. More importantly its Max who doesnt need to crash into 1st corner.

  4. Good.

    Leclerc on pole means we get to watch Charles v. Max again, however brief it may be. Much better than if Leclerc was penalised, because Max could probably just run a dominant race, with little action behind.

    1. There is also the added tension of whether Leclerc’s car will survive the entirety of the race.

  5. The hit was hard as we all saw. Even if they don’t see nothing, to have a sure finish (as long Monaco luck permits) they should had be more cautious but they prefer to keep the position and go with it.

    We will see in a few hours if that was a correct decision.

    1. This is the first race they are in contention for victory and there are no guarantees that another opportunity will present itself. Moreover, it is Monaco. A handicapped car can win,
      If there are no safety issues, I am 100% sure I would take the gamble as well.

      1. I think you are right. I don’t know how i didn’t saw this.

  6. Good. Even if the gearbox is not in perfect condition, it would have been foolish to throw away the chance to start from 1st in Monaco.

    1. True, but only if that lack of perfection doesn’t mean he has to park it up halfway through the race. I guess Ferrari are using up all their four leaf clovers and rabbits feet on this one. Won’t be long before we know if the gamble pays off.

      Reply moderated
    2. Except, if it causes you to not start the race to begin with…..

      1. IMO it was still the right choice, they’re not fighting for the championship, they’re fighting mclaren for bragging rights for 3rd place and they seem to be on course to win that, imo it makes more sense to gamble on a win than settle for a 6th place.

  7. With Monaco’s nature of demanding lots of gearbox changes I’m not happy or comfortable until I see a Scarlett Red crossing the white line under a chequered flag (like it’s supposed to be)
    Fingers and toes crossed

    1. @jeorge But Leclerc’s advantage is that a car with a problem can still win at Monaco cause they can’t overtake. Think of Ricciardo with his MGU-K in 2018.

  8. Hoping a good and fair race. Leclerc can win if his gearbox holds it the whole race. (Which I doubt)

  9. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    23rd May 2021, 12:29

    I don’t understand how a driver who’s on pole can have an accident, red flag the session, and keep pole. While there wasn’t much time left, it’s quite possible that he may not have been on pole.

    1. @freelittlebirds Simply because he had the fastest time at the end of the session.
      It’s not rocket science.

    2. It feels somehow unjust but I think it’s part of the game (as long as it isn’t on purpose).

      Indycar has the rule that if you crash in qualy you’re best two laptimes will be deleted.
      I don’t think I would like that to be implemented in F1 too. Yet more rules. And in the end everyone had the chance to do better in the first run…

      1. Thats pretty much why you’re given 10 minutes to get your lap. If there’s yellow (or red near the end), well thats it.

        Nothing unfair about it, accidents happen. And writing this as the race has started, Leclerc didn’t been fit from this at all.

    3. In fairness, I would have given an extra time in place of Masi, even rulebook does not foresee it.

  10. Well, that should spicy.

  11. Gearbox gone?

    1. Oh my, looks like it!

    2. It would be a bit unbelievable if so (i.e. terrible decision not to change it).

      1. Still worth the risk. It would be crazy to give up pole at Monaco.

        1. Ask Charles. I doubt he’d prefer not racing to a five-place penalty, though he must have agreed with the decision based on the information given by his engineers. I’m just really surprised that after checking the gear-box it failed on its first lap of the circuit. Anyhow it is what it is. Like you implied below, a huge cost to Leclerc for clipping that barrier.

  12. His gearbox is causing issues on the way to the grid right now.

  13. Any of the conspiracy theorists still thinking it was a deliberate crash?

    1. Indeed, he’d have taken that 5 place grid penalty in a heartbeat if he knew what was about to happen on the way to the grid.

  14. Hope all the conspiracy theorists are happy that we have no action to look forward to, now that Charles is out.

  15. Well, he has only himself to blame. This is right up there with Baku’19 in terms of silly mistakes!

    While his lap 1 shenanigans have calmed down this year, there are still some rough edges to be cleaned up. Never mind, not a championship season anyways. Hope he learns from this and comes back stronger.

    1. Ferrari’s decision not to change the gearbox, though.

      1. Leclerc mistake caused the situation, Ferrari incompetence exaberated it.

        1. Disagree it’s incompetence, I would take a pole position at monaco with a risk of car breaking over a sure 6th place, in a season where I’m not fighting for title.

  16. If they do not fire Binotto, Ferrari won t ever get back up. Today was an obscene lack of leadership we witnessed.

  17. Great to see cheating driver and his team being punished, one way or another. “Oopsie, I touched the barrier, I guess I’ll not react like all other drivers who were in this exact position and at least try to countersteer. Oh, I caused red flag, but I already was on pole position. What a shame, haha”. Beautiful, you love to see it!

    1. @armchairexpert Welcome to motorsport. This is clearly your first time.
      What good is countersteering when the steering arm is snapped and flailing all over the place? In that 1 second prior to impact, to arrest all that inertia? While you’re in the air after having already hit the yellow kerb?

      1. don’t feed them

        1. Steal their armchair.

        2. I really want to see the reply ;)

  18. Well, with hindsight, I guess they should have looked a bit better at the parts on the other side of the car. Surely, had they taken that gearbox apart (and gotten the penalty since they broke the seals) they would have found the broken driveshaft on the other side of the car!

    1. But I can understand why they risked it in the rare chance of a win.

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