F1 – Monaco Grand Prix – Charles Leclerc in pole position: “This year, he arrived much more calmly”

F1 – Monaco Grand Prix – Charles Leclerc in pole position: “This year, he arrived much more calmly”
F1 – Monaco Grand Prix – Charles Leclerc in pole position: “This year, he arrived much more calmly”

Lando Norris had already warned Max Verstappen last weekend, after his second place at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix and two weeks after his victory in Miami: “We are now fighting for first or second place”. Qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday, dominated by Charles Leclerc, putting an end to the Dutchman’s hegemony in the exercise this season, confirmed that the debates were tightening up almost everywhere, and in particular at the front.

But this trend will be analyzed with more perspective and the real story of the weekend, so far, is that of Leclerc. Beyond the fact that Red Bull and Verstappen will not start from pole for the first time this season, the Monegasque delighted his audience by setting the best time in the qualifying session on Saturday in 1’10″270, just a short distance away. tenth of the absolute circuit record. This is the third time that he will start in the lead on the Rock.

25 points are tomorrow

“My excitement is so high, I feel great,” enjoyed the 26-year-old pilot at the microphone of Canal+. Before quickly tempering his joy, aware of the heavy liabilities he faces in his garden. “Qualifying isn’t everything, I’ve experienced it in the past. In previous years, we didn’t do it.” Leclerc is obviously referring to 2021, where he did not start due to a problem with his car. And in 2022, where he was a victim of his team’s strategy, with a 4th place result. Two wasted poles.

So many bad memories and one anomaly: Leclerc has never been on the podium at home. “The 25 points are tomorrowcoldly recalled the boss of the Scuderia, Frédéric Vasseur. If things don’t go well tomorrow, the people who congratulate us today will drag us through the mud. There are quite a few accidents and incidents here.”

Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) greets the Monegasque public after qualifying, Saturday May 25, 2024.

Credit: Getty Images

If it is impossible not to recall, for the umpteenth time, all this heavy context surrounding Leclerc in the Principality, we also cannot avoid the very positive atmosphere which has accompanied him since the start of the weekend. Easy during free practice, never making a mistake, the Monegasque then remained calm when things got tough in Q1.

We are a stronger team now

“The feeling with the car was not as good as during testinghe admitted. In Q2, we tried to adapt, to get the feeling back. In Q3, we put everything back in order. It is a relief”.“He’s had an almost perfect weekend so farresumed Vasseur. We were a little tense in Q1, but he was calmer than us. It’s full of serenity this weekend. He wasn’t always very happy in Monaco, because of himself, because of the team. This year, he arrived much more calmly at the start of the weekend.”

It remains to transform the test on Sunday, to put an end to the curse of the Prince of Monaco. For this, he will have to fight with Oscar Piastri, who will start on the front line with him. And hope that his teammate Carlos Sainz, who will start between the Australian and Lando Norris, is a protector of choice.

“We are a stronger team nowassured the Monegasque. I need a good start. I hope Carlos (Sainz) has a good start and can follow me into the first corner. If we are 1 and 2, this will be the ideal scenario. We have to bring this victory home.”

Once again, Leclerc has all the cards in hand to be the man of the weekend in Monaco. But for once, he will have to be the one for the 78 laps on Sunday.

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