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Pole with a bang for Charles

Monte Carlo 22 maggio 2021

Today was definitely a very exciting Saturday at the Monaco Grand Prix, leaving Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow smiling, but apprehensive.

In fact, the Italian team was back on pole courtesy of Charles Leclerc, after its best qualifying performance of the past two seasons. The last time it happened was back in 2019 at the Mexican Grand Prix. On his first run in Q3, the Monegasque produced an almost perfect lap on his home track to set the fastest time of the day. However, on his second run, Charles overdid it, clipping the barrier at turn 15 before ending up in the guardrail at the outside of the next corner. This brought out the red flag to end the session a few seconds early. While waiting to find out the extent of the damage to the car, this is nevertheless Charles’ eighth F1 career pole and Ferrari’s 229th, its eleventh at this track. 

Great SF21. Charles is the first Monegasque to start at the head of the pack in a home race counting towards the championship, although Louis Chiron did the same in 1936, before the world championship came into being. In fact, in what can be seen as something of a premonition, this weekend Charles is sporting a helmet design that pays tribute to his predecessor. Carlos Sainz also looked capable of taking pole, but will in fact start from the second row tomorrow, as he, along with several other drivers was trying to improve his time on his last run until his efforts were frustrated by the red flag. Today’s performance is a clear indication of the performance level of the SF21 at a track like Monaco. The complete package has been very quick right from the start of free practice, which has enabled the drivers to fight for the top places. The Monaco Grand Prix starts tomorrow at 15 CET. 

Charles Leclerc #16 

Mixed feelings today. On the one hand, being on pole here is amazing. I was quite happy with my fastest lap in Q3. The first sector wasn’t ideal, but in the second and third, I put it together. I knew I could do better but I pushed too hard on my final lap trying to improve. Unfortunately, I hit the wall and now all we can do is keep our fingers crossed and hope that the damage won’t result in a penalty.
Of course, it is encouraging to see our performance, but I believe that it’s a bit of a one-off as the track suits the characteristics of our SF21 really well. That’s why we were so competitive today. We have to keep in mind that we are still not at the level of the two teams leading the championship, but for now, it does feel great to have extracted the maximum today.
Whatever the outcome, I will give my all tomorrow. It feels great to be at home and to see all the fans around the track. It’s Monaco, it’s very unpredictable, and also challenging for us drivers, especially in the race with so many laps. It’s a great challenge and we will try to put everything together to get a good result.

Carlos Sainz #55

Today was very frustrating for me. I’ve been driving well all weekend and I was very strong in qualifying. I felt confident with the car and I had a very strong pace. Unfortunately, my last attempt was a bit compromised with traffic during the preparation lap and then I didn’t have the chance to finish the flying lap due to the red flag. It was my first chance to put it on pole here in Monaco and lining up P4 is really frustrating. I’m not happy.
Tomorrow it will be tough to overtake, but I will do my best and I will try to maximize our chances. Well done to the team for giving us a strong car to fight up there today.

Laurent MekiesRacing Director

A great qualifying, albeit with the sword of Damocles hanging over the result, dependent on the state of Charles’ car. Whatever the final grid order, it is still satisfying to have one of our drivers on pole after what is the most difficult qualifying of the season. However, there is some disappointment that Carlos was unable to secure a better position, penalised – truth be told, as were other drivers – by the red flag caused by his team-mate.
We came to this event aware that we could do well, but we never got carried away. Our aim was to be just behind the two teams fighting for the championship, but we managed to do much better than that. The result was down to the talent of our drivers and the preparation work from the team both at the track and back in Maranello, as well as the support of our technical and commercial partners. 
Tonight and tomorrow, we will stay focused on preparing as well as possible for the race, when the aim will be to reap the best possible result from what we have sown so far.