MONTE CARLO, Monaco — A frustrated Charles Leclerc was left questioning Ferrari’s strategy after his shocking elimination from the opening qualifying session for the Monaco Grand Prix.
A late period of drama saw Sebastian Vettel escape from the elimination zone, in doing so relegating Leclerc to 16th despite the red cars being comfortably quick enough to proceed. Despite the fact Leclerc had been in a precarious position of his own Ferrari had opted against sending the Monaco native out again on his home race circuit, where he had been quickest in final practice only a few hours before.
Leclerc was shown on TV screens shaking his head and questioning Ferrari’s engineers about what happened. He said the team had assured him there was nothing to worry about.
“I asked whether they were sure [he was safe],” he said. “They told me ‘we think we are’. I said ‘shouldn’t we go out again?’ But yeah, there was no real answer. I think they thought we would go… I don’t know. I didn’t have any explanations yet in detail. Very difficult one to take.
Leclerc had appeared to have been held up by a visit to the weighbridge at the start of the pit-lane but he said there was no reason he should not have gone back out again.
“We had plenty of time, even when we went out of the box to go out again. The weighbridge was not the problem. We still had the fuel to go again and only change tyres. None of this was a problem. I need some explanations.”
When asked what he can hope for from Sunday’s race, starting so low down on F1’s most difficult track for overtaking, he said: “Hopefully rain, and then there will be a bit of lottery in there.
“If it’s dry, it’s going to be boring. I’ll have to take a lot of risks I think, even risking to crash. In the end, that’s the only thing we need to do now, is to try and be extreme in our overtaking because this is a track where it’s basically impossible to overtake, so we will see.”
It means Leclerc faces the prospect of a frustrating afternoon on Sunday, starting from the rear of the grid on the narrow Monte Carlo circuit, the toughest on the F1 calendar for overtaking. Ferrari says a full explanation of the strategy will be issued later.