Former World Champion Jacques Villeneuve says Charles Leclerc has only himself to blame as his Monaco curse continued.
Leclerc went into the Monaco Grand Prix sceptical about his chances on home soil. This is a venue which champions driver ability, but this time around he had expected the influence of the machinery to be too strong for that.
“I think that was the case at one time, it is still a bit the case today but, unfortunately, there are so many differences and the drivers are so well prepared for circuits like Monaco,” he had told Codesport Monaco in the build-up to the race weekend.
“Let’s be realistic – if Mercedes and Red Bull don’t have any problems, it will be very difficult to challenge them.”
Never mind challenge them, Ferrari ended up being among the pace-setters throughout the Monaco GP, with Leclerc putting his SF21 on provisional pole after the first runs in Q3.
From there though, things got a little messy. Pushing to improve further, Leclerc got the chicane at the Swimming Pool section all wrong, sending him crashing into the barriers.
That brought out the red flags as Q3 ticked towards its conclusion, meaning the session ended there and Leclerc was on pole – as long as his gearbox survived the crash.
Ferrari were desperate to avoid the five-place penalty which would have come with a gearbox change and after an inspection cleared it for the race, pole was indeed in the bag for Leclerc.
But on the formation lap to the grid, Leclerc reported a problem and after returning to his garage Ferrari found a broken driveshaft which ruled him out of the race. They confirmed the damage was crash-related, but that area had not been checked before sending him out on Sunday.
That meant that in a run stretching back to 2017, Leclerc still has not seen the chequered flag at his home race – but Villeneuve does not see why anyone should feel sad for the 23-year-old.
After all, the Canadian sees Leclerc’s cruel fate as completely his own doing.
“He can only blame himself, he hit the wall yesterday [Saturday] so we can’t be sad for him, ” Villeneuve explained to RTBF.
“There is also the fact he took the risk that the car would work. He was starting on pole with a great chance of winning. This is Monaco, you have to do a bit of a lottery and if he had changed his gearbox or fixed the car, he would have left the pits, so it was worth it.
“But what was surprising was that it wasn’t even the gearbox that failed, it was a left part [driveshaft] but still due to the collision.”