'We can't afford to do these things' – Unhappy Leclerc on shock Q1 exit in Monaco
He’s been the centre of attention all weekend, and expectations were raised to the roof when he went fastest in final practice. But Charles Leclerc’s first qualifying session on home soil with Ferrari ended in ignominy as he was knocked out in the opening segment following an apparent miscalculation from his team.
The young Monegasque had sat within the top 10 as Q1 entered its final stages – though his best lap had been far from perfect. But as other drivers – including team mate Sebastian Vettel – went out in a bid to improve their times on a track that seemed to be getting faster, Leclerc remained stationary in the Ferrari garage and could only watch on as his name tumbled out of the top 15 and into the elimination zone.
It’s disappointing to be out in Q1 in a Ferrari, but even more so at home and even more on a track like this where you can’t overtake. We can’t afford to do these things
“I asked [the team] whether they were sure [we were safe], they told me ‘We think we are’. I said ‘Shouldn’t we get out again?’ - but there were no real answers,“ said Leclerc as he spoke to the media just moments after his exit, his face etched with a mixture of anger and disbelief.
“I don’t know,” he added. “I didn’t get an explanation yet in detail. It’s a very difficult one to take.
"It’s disappointing to be out in Q1 in a Ferrari, but even more so at home and even more on a track like this where you can’t overtake," he added. "We can’t afford to do these things. It’s just a big, big disappointment."
After his first run, Leclerc had to be wheeled back to the FIA weighbridge after missing a signal to stop upon arriving back in the pits. The 21-year-old, who was born and raised in the Principality, dismissed that as a factor in his early exit.
“We had plenty of time, even when we went out of the box, to go out again,” explained Leclerc.
“The weighbridge was not a problem – we still had the fuel to go again and only [needed to] change the tyres. No, no, this was a problem. I need some explanations – I don’t know for now.”
I’ll have to take a lot of risks in the race - even risking to crash
Leclerc is set to start Sunday’s race – his second at home – from P15, moving up one spot after Giovinazzi was penalised that's one place lower than he qualified for last year’s event with Sauber. And he now says he has no choice but to adopt an aggressive no-holds-barred approach.
“Hopefully it rains 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.
“But at the end that’s the only thing we need to do now is to try to be extreme in our overtaking because this is a track where it is basically impossible to overtake, so we will see.”