Ferrari duo divided on Monaco GP chances with SF-24 ‘not optimised’ for Monte Carlo

Henry Valantine
Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc on the Australia podium.

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc have enjoyed a productive partnership together as Ferrari team-mates.

Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz offered differing views on how they feel the team may do this weekend.

Leclerc is “confident we will be strong”, while Sainz urged caution over the strengths of the SF-24, believing the car is better suited to circuits with higher-speed corners.

Ferrari drivers assess Monaco Grand Prix chances in different ways

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

While Leclerc is looking to secure his first podium at his home race, a three-place grid penalty last year putting paid to any chance of that after a run of bad luck at Monaco.

But having set a time good enough for pole in 2021 and a strong car underneath him this season, he hopes the upgraded Ferrari can challenge at a track where qualifying is crucial.

“Monaco is so specific that we need to start a little bit from a blank page. Free practice is super, super important to build the pace little by little. But I’m confident we will be strong,” Leclerc said ahead of the weekend.

“Monaco is very special for me. True that it hasn’t been the most successful race for me until now. However, the pace was always there and that gives me the confidence that it will be the case this year too.

“The good thing is that everything we expected from those upgrades [in Imola], we had it. In terms of data, it did exactly what it was supposed to do, which is always a good thing.

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“For some reason, we had a slightly different power strategy compared to McLaren and Red Bull in Imola qualifying, and we lost everything on the run down to Turn Two. Max, on top of that, had the slipstream. But this is something we’ll have to look into, because especially on a track like this, track position is absolutely everything.

“When you only have a tenth in between Red Bull, McLaren, and ourselves, we need to do everything perfect.”

As for Sainz, while he thinks Ferrari are a good match for the other top teams in race trim, he believes Red Bull and McLaren “have a bit more” in qualifying.

At a circuit as tight as Monaco, that would hamper the Scuderia in the race – and he feels the current car is better-suited to circuits with more medium and high-speed corners compared to the narrow, twisting nature of Monte Carlo.

“I think Charles showed some good pace and it meant that we were in the race,” Sainz said to media including after the chequered flag in Imola.

“We seemed like we can fight with these guys just seems like in quali they have a bit more than us, which is something that we need to look into and something that we need to keep improving because there’s going to be circuits where you cannot do anything with strategy or with overtaking, like we’ve seen in Imola, and we need to improve the one-lap pace, but it’s encouraging to see in the race pace we remain strong.”

When asked about his prospects for Monaco specifically, he added: “[It’s] all about quali, so we’ll have a look at what we can do there.

“This package is not optimised for Monaco, it’s more medium-high speed tracks, so I don’t expect nothing huge.

“What we need to make sure on our side is that we get into the detail of what we saw [on Saturday] on my side of the garage, and have a good look at what it could have been.”

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