Charles Leclerc was the surprise winner of qualifying last year at the Monaco Grand Prix – and thinks another upset is possible this time.
Pretty much out of nowhere, the Ferrari driver recorded two consecutive qualifying P1 results in Monaco and Azerbaijan in 2021, although of course he was unable to start from pole position in his home race as he crashed at the end of Q3 and could not take his place on the grid.
The 24-year-old established himself as favourite for both pole and the race victory when he went fastest in both of this year’s Friday practice sessions, as his World Championship rival Max Verstappen claimed only fourth place each time.
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But rather than expecting it to be the same story on Saturday, Leclerc suggested someone may yet be able to rip up the form book as he did 12 months ago.
“This is a special track and we may have some surprises,” Leclerc told Sky Italia.
“Last year we got here and the car worked. That’s why maybe it could go like this for other teams.
“The car was not great in FP1, a bit better in FP2. I really think we need to do another step for tomorrow because I’m pretty sure everyone has quite a bit of margin on a Friday and also us drivers, so it’s a bit the unknown for now.”
On a day when the bumpiness of the circuit was a key talking point, drivers found themselves having to gradually step up their pace and their risk level in between the barriers.
Having said “hopefully we can do the step we want to do”, Leclerc was asked what that step would entail.
“Overall, mostly driving,” he replied. “I took it step by step and for now it’s all going well, but once you put the last step in that’s where the risks are becoming higher and we will only do that in qualifying tomorrow.
“It’s very tricky because the track is very bumpy, a lot of kerb-riding too, so you can really feel it’s a big difference to last year’s car for everyone and it makes it even more challenging than before.
“I would say there are no big changes of driving line compared to last year, it’s just you need to deal with the trickiness of the kerbs and the bumps overall on the track.
“But it’s fun, I’m enjoying it and for now we are competitive, so I’m happy.”
Additional reporting by Luca Brambilla