Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Monaco, 2021

Leclerc fears he missed “one-off” chance for 2021 win in Monaco

2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc suspects the Monaco Grand Prix may have been Ferrari’s only chance to fight for a win in 2021.

The team had their strongest performance of 2021 by far at the track, where Leclerc took pole and Carlos Sainz Jnr finished on the podium.

But while Leclerc headed the field by 0.327 seconds in qualifying, he ended the session by crashing. The damage he suffered ultimately cost him his chance to start.

Sainz therefore effectively lined up third on the grid. He finished second, Ferrari’s first podium in eight races and his first with the team. Leclerc could only rue what might have been if he could have used his track position advantage at the start of his home race.

“Of course it is difficult because it’s at home,” he said. “It’s not every day that we have the chance to be in such a good place.

“But at the end it’s like this, it’s part of motorsports. And these things can happen. As Mattia [Binotto, Ferrari team principal] said, that’s what I will try to remember from this weekend, all the positive signs we’ve had. We are coming back from quite far, if we see last year, so we’ve done a good job by improving races after races.

“Here it might be a one-off to be fighting for the win, but that doesn’t mean that there has been no progress.

Ferrari took just three podium finishes in 2020, having scored 16 the year before, including Sebastian Vettel’s second place in Monaco. Leclerc said it is clear the team has made gains following its poor season last year.

“We are on the good road, we are working well. Surely the luck was not on my side this weekend and it’s life.

“I’ll just get over it, think about Baku, I’m very, very motivated to be back in the car and to hopefully have a very good result.”

Ferrari has not previously won in Baku, which last appeared on the F1 calendar in 2019.

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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18 comments on “Leclerc fears he missed “one-off” chance for 2021 win in Monaco”

  1. That seems accurate.

    I guess Verstappen could have tried either an undercut or an overcut (the latter of which seemed to work provided you had the pace/tyres and a good pitstop) to get past. Apart from that it would have been about keeping the car out of the barriers.

    1. @bascb
      Sainz was equally fast and on a faster Q3 run so Ferrari might have locked the front row. Even with Verstappen 2nd they could have gave him more than a headache in the race with him sandwiched between both their cars with one driver covering his strategy and the other one has the margin to try something different.

      1. Sainz run was not faster!
        I know he insinuated this but the facts are that his sector times already were 0.25 slower to his fastest lap.
        So no, he would not have improved.

        1. I think he meant Sainz’s first run in Q3. He was about 0.07 faster than Leclerc after the first two sectors, but then did a poor final sector (strangely without an obvious error).

      2. Well, Sainz was on a run to improve his lap, much like Leclerc had been until he crashed. But it could also have been Bottas and Verstappen getting ahead, as both were running very solid laps @tifoso1989, so once we take all of them in account, you are actually not making much of a point to show how Ferrari would have started on the front row and/or made it hard (or not) for Verstappen to try and win with strategy or not. And who knows how Bottas would have faired once we get into too many ifs.

        But as you might not have noticed, In general I do think that had he not crashed, Leclerc did indeed throw away their best chance of a win in about 2 years.

  2. I am sure Leclerc knows ultimately he himself is to blame for not starting. But the stuff coming out of Ferrari saying “Ohh, we did not check rear left thoroughly, because the crash was on the other side” sounds a bit amateurish to me as a relative layman.

    1. 100% agree, but there’s a few layers to the event. Ferrari says the driveshaft broke somewhere between Mirabeau and Portier, it was fine in the garage and through S1, and secondly, the teams apparently aren’t allowed to make precautionary changes under parc fermé (i think some journalist tweeted this, not sure how accurate), and given it didn’t look broken in the garage, they couldn’t argue for a change. So all in all a combination of many things. But such an oversight can’t happen in F1 levels, it was Leclerc’s and Ferrari’s race to lose

  3. That really was a missed opportunity for Charles and Ferrari. I don’t see them winning anywhere else on merrit this season. Although Charles is a beast around Baku, I think the long straights will hurt them there. Hungaroring could be an opportunity, but then again the medium speed corners in the middle sector don’t suit the Ferrari (compared to the RB & Mercedes).
    The only other race I see Ferrari having a chance is Singapore, if that race can actually be held. Right now I have high doubts, it’s going to happen.

    1. So eventually the prediction I and some others made at the start of the year that ferrari could win a race weren’t too far off, but I certainly didn’t expect them to have a chance on pace.

  4. Although Charles is a beast around Baku

    Indeed, I remember his crash in the old Town.
    One of his too many “I am stupid” moments.

    1. It’s ok you watch this next race he will be cautious at that section he will not repeat that mistake . Baku is not his hometown and also he has vowed to fight back . I guess the pressure of racing at home is what caused his error

      1. Plus not all drivers are strong at home, leclerc tends to be stronger in bahrain and baku.

  5. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    25th May 2021, 14:01

    He’s right, on outright pace I doubt Ferrari will have another chance of a win. Given it was Monaco, Leclerc had a strong chance of keeping 1st as Verstappen would struggle to overtake. I have a feeling we’ll see Leclerc on the podium somewhere still, but a win? Yeah this is one that certainly got away from him.

  6. But if Leclerc had not crashed Verstappen would have probably taken pole since his second run was showing quicker sector times compared to Leclerc’s first and second run? I think Ferrari could only have won this is Sainz’s final lap would have been good enought for pole.

    1. Yes, that’s certainly a possibility, and I don’t know, people are saying sainz was not doing a good final lap, but all I’m saying is the first lap had potential to be at least 7 hundredths faster than leclerc’s pole lap.

  7. I’d say Singapore might be another chance (though it is unclear if the race will happen or not).

  8. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    25th May 2021, 19:07

    Tough day for Charles, no doubt, especially while seeing Carlos up there on the podium.

  9. Leclerc fears he missed “one-off” chance for 2021 win in Monaco…
    No doubt about it, as there won’t be another Monaco grand prix in 2021 he definitely missed the chance of a 2021 Monaco win.

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