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Leclerc thrilled by ‘very special’ run to Monaco pole as he reveals nerves from last-minute engine change

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 25: Pole position qualifier Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari

Charles Leclerc expressed his satisfaction after claiming a third pole position on home soil in Monaco in the last four years, backing up pace-setting efforts in 2021 and 2022 with another stunning qualifying display.

Leclerc, who topped FP2 and FP3 in the Principality, pulled out two brilliant laps in the decisive Q3 phase – his ultimate benchmark being a 1m 10.270s – to fend off McLaren rival Oscar Piastri and Ferrari team mate Carlos Sainz.

READ MORE: Leclerc beats Piastri and Sainz to home pole during Monaco qualifying thriller

It was not all plain sailing for the Monegasque on Saturday, as he revealed during the post-qualifying press conference that Ferrari completed an engine change between final practice and the grid-deciding session.

But nobody could stop Leclerc from securing the top spot as he now looks to convert it into what would be a dream first win at home, having suffered his fair share of misfortune around the streets of Monte Carlo in the past.

2024 Monaco GP Qualifying: Charles Leclerc crosses the line to seal pole position

Reflecting on his session, Leclerc said: “It was nice. The feeling after a qualifying lap is always very special here. I’m really, really happy about the lap – the excitement is so high. It feels really good.

“However, now I know more often than not in the past that qualifying is not everything. As much as it helps a lot for Sunday’s race, we need to put everything together coming to Sunday. In the past years we didn’t manage to do so.

READ MORE: ‘Wrong place, wrong time’ – Perez and Alonso offer their reactions to shock Q1 exits

“But we are a stronger team, we are in a stronger position, and I’m sure we can achieve great things tomorrow. Obviously the win is the target.”

With his hopes of converting pole in 2021 ended by a driveshaft issue ahead of the race start (following on from a crash in Q3) and a pit stop blunder scuppering his efforts in 2022, Leclerc hopes it will be third time lucky tomorrow.

“I need a good launch off the grid, then once we do that hopefully Carlos can have a great start and follow me into Turn 1 and be one-two,” he went on to comment.

Qualifying Highlights: 2024 Monaco Grand Prix

“If we are one-two then we can manage that as a team. That would be the perfect scenario. But whatever happens, we just need to bring that victory home.”

Asked for his take on qualifying, and whether he was pleased to overcome some practice struggles, Sainz said: “Not really. I haven’t been at the top of my game this weekend. I’m struggling with confidence with the car, I had bad moments during the whole weekend.

FACTS AND STATS: Albon scores his first Q3 in 2024 as Williams bag best starting slot in Monaco for 8 years

“In the end for quali it’s all about closing the eyes and going for it. I managed to pull out a couple of decent laps, which are still a bit far from where I wish I could be, but at the same time it kind of saved the day and it means we can start from P3 and go for it tomorrow.”

Leclerc will enter his home Grand Prix searching for what would be a first win since the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix, with Sainz taking Ferrari’s most recent victories in Singapore last season and Australia earlier this year.

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