Leclerc: ‘Back to reality’ in Baku for Ferrari

Jon Wilde
Charles Leclerc Ferrari Monaco Grand Prix

Charles Leclerc Ferrari

Charles Leclerc quickly got over his Monaco Grand Prix pole-position heartbreak – but says it will be “back to reality” in Baku.

The Ferrari driver sprang a shock by setting the fastest time in qualifying for his home race two weeks ago, outpacing Mercedes and Red Bull.

But as he tried to go even quicker with just seconds remaining on the clock in Q3, the 23-year-old made a mistake at the Swimming Pool section and crashed into the barrier.

An anxious 24 hours ensued before Ferrari decided a new gearbox, which would have meant a grid drop, was not required, but still Leclerc was unable to take the start as he reported a problem on the installation lap and was forced out with a broken driveshaft.

In front of a home crowd, and with a grandstand set up in his honour, the Monegasque was crestfallen, especially as he now has a DNS to add to the three DNFs he previously had on the streets of the Principality, never having reached the chequered flag.

And with the Ferrari SF21 much better suited to circuits with plenty of slow-speed corners, much more so than Baku with its long straight, Leclerc does not envisage giving the World Championship rivals anything like as much to worry about this time.

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“It’s a lot more high-speed, a lot more straights, so unfortunately we will be struggling more and it will be back to reality here, I think,” Leclerc told Sky F1, speaking about the street circuit venue for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

“It will be a lot more similar in terms of competitiveness to what we saw before Monaco, which was a bit of a one-off.

“But this is a track I really enjoy driving and I think we should be realistic – not targeting to be fighting for pole because it won’t happen this weekend, just to try and maximise our points.”

Leclerc put on a brave face immediately after being ruled out of the Monaco race, playing his part in meeting the dignitaries and even joining the throng at the podium ceremony after his team-mate Carlos Sainz finished second.

He says it took him no more than 48 hours to overcome the anguish.

“There were quite a lot of positives but obviously I cannot forget about the disappointment on the Sunday, which was the most important moment of the weekend. But it’s like this,” said Leclerc.

“It didn’t take me that long to get over it. By the Monday or Tuesday I was over it. It’s always very difficult in the moment, but I will always look forward very quickly.”

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