Charles Leclerc reveals last-minute issue almost derailed dream Monaco pole positon

Charles Leclerc topped FP3 at the 2024 Monaco GP but it almost cost him pole position for Ferrari

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Charles Leclerc will aim to make it third time lucky at the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix having failing to win twice from pole position previously, but revealed an engine problem almost dealt him heartbreak before qualifying had even started.

After leading FP2 and FP3, Leclerc duly took pole position comfortably ahead of Oscar Piastri as he attempts to take an elusive first win on his home streets, but an engine swap after the final practice session could’ve derailed that dream had any complications cropped up.

A botched Ferrari strategy handed Sergio Perez the win in 2022 while Leclerc was unable to start from pole in 2021 after his crash that secured top spot in qualifying dealt him gearbox damage that was only picked up on his reconnaissance lap before the race.

“It’s been a bit of a roller coaster,” Leclerc told select members of the press, including Total-Motorsport.com. “The weekend has been incredible until after FP3 where there was an issue with my engine. There was an engine swap at the very last minute, which was quite tricky.

“But fortunately for me, there wasn’t any consequence for my weekend. Once you finish the lap and you hear that you’re on pole position, it’s always a very special feeling.

“However, maybe in the past the emotions were staying for longer, but now having started twice on pole and not bringing the victory, which is at the end what matters the most, that’s where my mind is at the moment, just trying to prepare and make everything possible.”

Leclerc also dealt sticker issue in Monaco

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc makes his way around the track at the 2022 Monaco GP.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc makes his way around the track at the 2022 Monaco GP.

Leclerc was also one of many drivers to complain about the sponsor stickers that adorn the crash barriers at Monaco, as several drivers ended up with a sticker stuck under their Formula 1.

It almost ended Lando Norris‘ qualifying in Q1 while Sergio Perez said a similar problem was to blame for his premature exit, but Leclerc said Q3 was his smoothest session of the three.

“In Q1 it was very tricky, I took that sticker, that sponsor sticker on the lap. That was pretty important at that time, which slowed us down quite a bit,” Leclerc added. Then we pitted, we took off the sponsor banner from the front wing and went again.

“So that was already quite tricky, because in qualifying in Monaco you just want to be out and just do normal laps, so I was just praying for no yellow flags or red flags after that. Luckily it was okay, then in Q2 we struggled a little bit more with the balance of the car.

“I couldn’t find the right feeling. But then in Q3, we did some modifications, especially with the front wing and the tools and my driving, and then I found the pace again, so I was a little bit happier in Q3. But the feeling was, for some reason, a bit better in FP2, FP3.”

Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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