Leclerc fears losing pole after qualifying crash

The damaged Ferrari SF-21 of pole sitter Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari, who crashed out at the end of qualifying. 22.05.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Monaco Grand Prix
© XPB 

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc succeeded in delivering the pole position promised by a strong build-up performance in practice, following a dramatic end to qualifying for this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix.

The session ended with Leclerc going into the wall at the exit of the Swimming Poor causing significant damage to his car - which could cost him pole position if repairs include having to change to a new gearbox.

"I am, but let's see," he told the media in parc ferme after the end of qualifying, when asked whether he was worried about the gearbox repercussions. Needing to take a new one would see him handed a five place grid penalty for Sunday.

It was just one reason why the celebrations were somewhat muted, despite the team having secured its first pole since Leclerc topped qualifying in Mexico in 2019.

"It's a shame to finish in the wall, it doesn't feel the same," he admitted. "But at the same time, I'm incredibly happy about my first timed lap.

"The first corner was quite tricky. I didn't do a great first corner. But then second and third sector, I nailed it, and just very, very happy to be on pole."

It's Leclerc's eighth career pole in Formula 1 and confirms a significant return to form for the team which had an abysmal season in 2020 but has been on the comeback trail since the start of the campaign.

Pole sitter Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari in qualifying parc ferme. 22.05.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo

Even so, Leclerc admitted that the realisation that pole was genuinely in reach this weekend had been almost overwhelming after coming top of Q2.

It was "very, very tricky to manage myself mentally," he admitted. "I could feel I was quite emotional in the car. But I told myself it's Q3, now it's time to put everything together.

"I managed to do so, so I'm incredibly happy," he added. "But I have to say that it's a big surprise to be on pole and [teammate Carlos Sainz] in fourth place for the race tomorrow.

"It's tomorrow that we score points," he pointed out. "I've always been very unlucky here, so let's see."

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