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Leclerc admits risk ‘paid off’ after setting early pace in Monaco as he voices confidence over home pole position chances

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24: Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari prepares to drive in the garage

Charles Leclerc is feeling “confident” after a strong opening day on track at the Monaco Grand Prix, having ended Friday at the top of the timesheets as he looks to secure pole position for his home race.

After setting the fifth fastest time on the medium tyres during the first practice hour, the Ferrari driver looked to be on the pace during FP2 and he subsequently recorded the quickest lap of all with a time of 1m 11.278s.

FP2: Home hero Leclerc sets the pace during busy second practice in Monaco from Hamilton and Alonso

“I think on the medium we were really strong,” Leclerc explained as he gave his take on the day. “On the soft we struggled to put everything together, there was a lot of traffic all the way. All in all, we have a good car at the moment. I feel confident with the car.

“However, it’s super important we keep this rhythm into FP3 because it’s the way Monaco is. I might have taken a bit more risk than the others today which paid off, however it’s all about tomorrow in quali when everybody starts to go on the limit.

“Until now I think we’ve done a really, really good job, but we need to keep working, keep focusing on ourselves. But it’s a positive first day.”

2024 Monaco GP FP2: Onboard with Charles Leclerc for the fastest lap of Friday practice

The Monegasque is also hopeful that there is more speed available in his SF-24, adding: “I think there’s more pace in me just putting everything together. If you look at my three sectors, there was quite a bit of lap time in them when you put all of it together, so that will be the main focus for tomorrow. But let’s say performance and feeling is there.”

While there were mixed fortunes for Ferrari’s rivals – with Mercedes appearing to enjoy a good day around the streets of Monte Carlo, while Red Bull looked to be experiencing some issues – Leclerc believes that he and the team will still need to ensure that they work hard to stay ahead.

WATCH: Ride onboard with Leclerc for the fastest lap of Friday practice in Monaco

“I think we kind of arrived here knowing that anything was possible,” the 26-year-old commented. “As I said in 2021, we didn’t have a particularly good car, but coming into Monaco the characteristics of our car [were] fitting well this very particular track and we were fast.

“This weekend we seem fast. Mercedes have been struggling since the beginning of the season, they are very fast this weekend so we expect them to be just the same tomorrow. Lewis [Hamilton] has been on it all day, so we have to maximise everything tomorrow to put it on pole.”

While Leclerc has previously taken two pole positions in Monaco, he is yet to finish the race higher than fourth. As such, putting himself in the best place to achieve a victory is his target.

“I’ve had two poles in the past, but then the Sunday result wasn’t the one I wanted,” he acknowledged. “So if we manage to do [that], so which is the best starting place for Sunday, we’ll have to focus well on Sunday in order to put everything together to finally get that win.”

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24: Carlos Sainz of Spain driving (55) the Ferrari SF-24 on track during

Sainz has twice scored a podium result in Monaco

For his team mate Carlos Sainz, Friday did not prove to be quite such a smooth day in Monaco, with the Spaniard commenting after FP2: “[I] definitely struggled over one lap today. We were just simply not able to extract maximum performance out of the soft [tyre] over one lap.

“Then for some reason the long run felt mighty quick, so yeah, something to understand there. But hoping for tomorrow to find some answers.

READ MORE: ‘I haven’t made my mind up yet’ says Sainz as he assesses 2025 seat options ahead of Monaco

“We got a little bit lost with the set-up changes at the beginning of FP2 that put me a little bit behind in the whole of FP2. I seemed to catch up a bit too late in the long runs, so tomorrow I should be better, but not the ideal start to a weekend. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be more in shape.”

Having twice finished on the podium at the iconic track, Sainz is hopeful that he can bounce back as the weekend progresses.

“Monaco’s normally been one of my strongest, that’s why it’s weird what happened today in a way,” said the 29-year-old. “At the same time when I see I’m probably the quickest over the whole long run, there’s something there to understand, and if we put everything together we should be okay by tomorrow.

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