Charles Leclerc reveals “last minute” engine drama ahead of qualifying

Charles Leclerc says Ferrari were forced to change his engine ahead of qualifying in Monaco.

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari celebrates his pole position in qualifying parc ferme. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8,
Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari celebrates his pole position in qualifying…

Charles Leclerc has revealed Ferrari were forced to make a “last-minute” engine change ahead of qualifying at the F1 Monaco Grand Prix.

Home hero Leclerc, the in-form driver all weekend, beat McLaren’s Oscar Piastri to a crucial pole position around Monte Carlo’s tight and twisty streets by just 0.154 seconds in a competitive qualifying.

But it has now emerged there was a brief panic at Ferrari when they discovered an issue with Leclerc’s power unit after final practice on Saturday, prompting a precautionary engine change.

“It’s been a rollercoaster,” Leclerc said. “The weekend has been incredible, until after FP3 when there was an issue with my engine.

“There was an engine swap at the very last minute which was quite tricky. But fortunately for me, there wasn’t any consequences on my weekend.”

Asked if he was able to build up as he hoped to during qualifying, Leclerc replied: “No, no. In Q1, it was very tricky.

“I took that sticker, that sponsor sticker on a lap that was pretty important at that time which slowed us down quite a bit. Then we pitted, we take off the sponsor banner from the front wing, we went again.

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-24. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8, Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo, Monaco,
Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-24. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8,…

“So that was already quite tricky, because in qualifying in Monaco, you just want to be out and just do normal laps. So I was just praying for no red flags or yellow flags after that. For me it was OK. Then Q2 we just struggled a bit more with the balance of the car, we couldn’t find the right feeling.

“But then in Q3 we did some modifications, especially with the front wing and the tools, and my driving, and then I found the pace again. I was a little bit happier in Q3. But the feeling was for some reason a bit better in FP2 and FP3.”

Leclerc now has three pole positions around Monaco but he is yet to win - or stand on the podium - at any race he has contested at his home venue.

“It feels as good as the first one,” he added. “I think in Monaco, the emotions you get, the tension that you have before getting into the car is so much more than anywhere else on the calendar.

“So yeah, once you finish a lap and you hear that you’re on pole position, it’s always a very special feeling. However, maybe in the past the emotions were staying for longer.

"But now obviously having started twice on pole and not bringing the victory, which is at the end what matters most, is where my mind is at at the moment, just trying to prepare and make everything possible.” 

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