After a heartbreaking withdrawal from his home Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc admits he has fully gotten over his disappointment and is now focused on the rest of his season as he predicts Ferrari to struggle a lot more in Azerbaijan.
Two weeks ago, during the Monaco Grand Prix qualifying, four men proved to be able to contest the pole position: Max Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas, and both Ferrari drivers. After everybody had accomplished their first timed lap attempt, Leclerc was standing on top of the rankings.
Nonetheless, Monaco is also renowned for its track conditions improving from one lap to the other, and purple sectors were starting to light up when the drivers took the track for their second attempt.
However, when the Monegasque arrived at the Piscine sequence, his engagement punished him when he entered the corner too aggressively, breaking a suspension and violently smashing his single-seater in a wall. After this incident, the session was red-flagged and nobody out of the four pole position contenders mentioned before could complete their second attempt, putting Leclerc on pole for Sunday’s race.
After inspecting the gearbox of his single-seater, Ferrari came to the conclusion that the car was ready to take the departure of the Monaco Grand Prix, on pole position. This was before Leclerc took the track and noticed a surprising behavior of his single-seater at the entry of the tunnel. After bringing his car back in the pit lane, a left driveshaft issue was discovered, forcing him to retire from his home race.
After this heartbreaking moment, Leclerc was seen cheering with his team and congratulating his teammate for his P2 finish at the end of the race. Two weeks later, the 23-year-old says he has completely gotten over this event and is now 100% focused on the rest of his season.
“They checked everything that was possible to check before Sunday which is quite tricky; the times are short, they put the engine on, everything seemed to be completely fine, so I was quite confident, as the team was to go on track, that everything was going to be fine,” Leclerc said.
“I did the first sector and everything felt good, but then it broke just before the tunnel, if I remember well, the rear-left hub, so I straight away understood that it would be quite difficult to make the start and we confirmed it once we were in the pits.”
“Apart from that though we’ve learned a lot. It’s great. Carlos did the podium, we showed that we were competitive in all the low-speed sections and we confirmed it in Monaco, so that was good.”
“But at the end, I gave it all, I absolutely wanted that pole, but yes, I went too much into Q3, and unfortunately, that cost me the DNS for Sunday. It’s a shame it’s like this.”
“Now I look forward, I love Baku and I’m looking forward to driving here.”
Like Sainz mentioned earlier today, Leclerc thinks this weekend will be more difficult for Ferrari as they will probably be forced to come back to reality after fighting for a race win just two weeks ago.
“I think it will be a bit back to reality now,” Leclerc admitted.
“Even though there are quite a lot of slow-speed corners, I believe we will be back to the normal competitiveness that we had before Monaco.”
“Monaco was a one-off. We were fighting for victory, which was incredible and very nice for the motivation of everyone but now with long straights and it’s a bit more high-speed in general here.”