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Leclerc hopeful of fighting for hat-trick of Monaco poles as Sainz stresses FP2 crash ‘won’t affect’ his confidence

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 26: Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari signs autographs for fans in

Charles Leclerc is optimistic of being in the mix for what would be a third successive Monaco Grand Prix pole position, saying “everything is possible” if he delivers in qualifying, though the home favourite expects Ferrari to be pushed hard by Red Bull and Aston Martin.

Leclerc finished a close second to Max Verstappen during Friday’s second practice session, lapping just 0.065s slower than the reigning world champion, as he looks to add to the poles he achieved in Monte Carlo in 2022 and 2021.

READ MORE: Verstappen leads Leclerc while Sainz crashes during ultra-close second practice in Monaco

Asked to reflect on the opening day of practice, and whether Ferrari are “in the fight”, Leclerc said: “Yes, we are, we are okay, but Aston Martin and Red Bull seem to be very quick as well, so we still need to do a step forward.

“The feeling in the car wasn’t too bad in FP1, a bit difficult… In FP2 a little bit better, but there were some things that were a little bit unexpected on my car, so we’ll work during the night to have the car exactly as I want tomorrow.”

FP2 Highlights: 2023 Monaco Grand Prix

Leclerc crashed out of the last qualifying session in Miami, raising questions over his approach behind the wheel, but the Monegasque vowed to be as aggressive as he always has been this weekend.

“I’ll give it [my] all, qualifying is everything here,” he stressed. “There’s lots of talks about my last race but qualifying has always been one of my strengths so I’m not worried, I’ll go for it and let’s see what happens.”

READ MORE: ‘We need more to stay ahead’ – Verstappen wary of Ferrari and Aston Martin threat despite topping first day in Monaco

Pressed if he thinks pole is on the cards, Leclerc added: “I mean, I don’t think we have the best car. Again, Red Bull is faster, Aston Martin is [there or] thereabouts, but if we do a great job and I put everything [together] in my lap, then everything is possible.”

Finishing just behind Leclerc on Friday’s timesheets was team mate Carlos Sainz, who displayed an impressive turn of pace before crashing at the exit of the Swimming Pool chicane in FP2.

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Sainz gave his mechanics some extra work to do on Friday evening

“It was a very small crash, to be honest,” he explained afterwards. “I just clipped the wall on the inside of [Turn] 16, a typical Monaco miscalculation.

“It’s a shame because I gave the mechanics some extra time [repairing the car] today, but in terms of confidence and in terms of lap time, I’ve been on it the whole day – a small miscalculation in one corner is not going to affect it.”

READ MORE: Hamilton hails ‘amazing day’ in Monaco as Mercedes get first glimpse of upgraded W14 out on track

Asked about his pole chances, Sainz said: “I think we’re on the right track to at least challenge for it. I think the Red Bull is still quick, they’re still leading after today.

“We’ve been closer than any other weekend and we hope that we can at least give them a run for their money, but I think it’s still going to be tricky.”

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