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Formula 1 Monaco GP

Leclerc would have felt "completely stupid" without Monaco F1 pole

Charles Leclerc felt he would look "completely stupid" if he missed Monaco Grand Prix pole after dominating Formula 1 practice in the principality for Ferrari.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Leclerc claimed his third career F1 pole in Monaco after edging out McLaren's Oscar Piastri in Q3 in Monte-Carlo, having topped FP2 and FP3 on his home streets.

He also finished fifth in FP1, which was a session where Mercedes led the way.

Motorsport.com understands the team had decided to complete its main Friday qualifying simulation efforts in FP1 due to a risk of rain that never arrived in FP2.

Mercedes therefore handed first practice pacesetter Lewis Hamilton and George Russell new soft tyres in FP1 and, along with the McLaren drivers, only pushed on used softs in FP2.

There, Leclerc led the way with Friday's best time, and he continued that fine form by leading FP3 on Saturday ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

Leclerc said his early Monaco weekend form therefore increased the pressure on topping qualifying at an event where grid position typically translates into race results.

"In FP1, yes," he replied in the post-qualifying press conference when asked if felt he like a pole contender from the first Friday practice laps.

"I prefer to have FP2/FP3 as positive as it was, but when you have such a good FP2/FP3 and also FP1, you go into quali knowing that you've got everything to lose and if you don't take pole position that you look completely stupid.

"So, the pressure was still on quite a lot, but we managed to pull it off, Which was really nice."

Leclerc also revealed that a post-FP3 "change of engine at the last minute" was not "making me any more calm" and felt he was "a bit tense going into qualifying".

Pole man Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari, celebrates on arrival in Parc Ferme

Pole man Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari, celebrates on arrival in Parc Ferme

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

"There was an issue with my engine [after FP3] and there was a swap at the very last minute," he said of the situation that evoked memories of his 2021 driveshaft DNS after his late Q3 crash here.

"Fortunately for me, there wasn't any consequences on my weekend."

In qualifying, Leclerc reported a strange pedal movement on his team radio during his first laps in Q3, but after climbing from his SF-24 he clarified "after, that the feeling was fine".

Despite having led so much in practice, Leclerc also needed a series of mid-qualifying settings changes to improve from a "tricky" Q1 and Q2, where he was only fifth and fourth respectively.

"[In Q1], I took that sponsor's sticker [from the wall at Mirabeau] on a lap that was pretty important at that time, which slowed us down quite a bit," he explained.

"Then we pitted, we took off the sponsor banner from the front wing, we went again. So, that was already quite tricky because in qualifying in Monaco you just want to be out and do normal laps.

"I was just praying for no yellow flags or red flags after that. Luckily for me it was OK. Then Q2 we struggled more with the balance of the car – I couldn't find the right feeling.

"But then in Q3 we did some modifications – especially with the front wing and the [steering wheel] tools and my driving.

"And I found the pace again, so I was a little bit happier in Q3 but the feeling was for some reason a bit better in FP2/FP3."

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