Charles Leclerc’s hopes of finally succeeding at his home grand prix were ended for another year in late, frustrating fashion at Monaco on Sunday. Leclerc set the fastest time in qualifying but then crashed, cutting short the session to secure pole position yet leaving his Ferrari damaged.
The Scuderia tested Leclerc’s gearbox on Saturday and again on Sunday, attempting to avoid a change that would mean giving up their place on the front row with a grid penalty.
The Monegasque star was cleared to take his position on pole less than three hours before the race, but Ferrari’s determination not to replace the gearbox seemed to have proved costly.
A driveshaft issue was revealed when running the car, which meant Leclerc was unable to start the race, leaving his precious pole position vacant.
The problem was “impossible to fix in time for the start of the race”, Ferrari said just 18 minutes before the scheduled start.
Charles will not start the race due to an issue with the left driveshaft which is impossible to fix in time for the start of the race. #MonacoGP
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) May 23, 2021
Max Verstappen had a clear run from second on the grid, as Leclerc rued another painful weekend at his home event.
His previous two Monaco appearances saw him fail to finish, although he completed enough of the 2018 grand prix to come 18th. At no other circuit has Leclerc had to retire twice.
The 23-year-old was denied the opportunity to surpass Louis Chiron’s result as the best from a Monegasque driver at their home race.
Chiron came third for Maserati in 1950, the first ever Formula One Monaco Grand Prix.