Charles Leclerc ruled out of Monaco Grand Prix after gearbox gamble backfires

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc (AP)
14:06pm, Sun 23 May 2021
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Charles Leclerc has been ruled out of the Monaco Grand Prix after Ferrari’s gamble not to replace his gearbox spectacularly backfired.

Leclerc became the first Monegasque to secure pole position in the principality since Louis Chiron 85 years ago, but his 110mph crash with just 16 seconds of qualifying remaining derailed his chances.

Following hours of examination, Ferrari believed that Leclerc’s gearbox was not damaged in his shunt and elected against taking on new parts to avoid a five-place grid penalty.

But Leclerc hit trouble on his way to the grid before parking up in his Ferrari garage in the moments before Sunday’s race.

“No, no, no, no, the gearbox, guys,” said Leclerc over the radio as he emerged from the tunnel.

“We have an issue and we will not make it to the grid,” a member of the Ferrari team confirmed to FIA director Michael Masi.

Leclerc sat in his cockpit for several minutes before his Ferrari team told him his race was over before it had started.

Leclerc left his cockpit before heading to the back of the garage to speak to Ferrari chairman John Elkann.

A Ferrari spokesperson said: “Charles will not start the race due to an issue with the left driveshaft which is impossible to fix in time for the start of the race.”

Spectators stand over a poster of Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc before the Monaco Grand Prix (AP)

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will start from the front ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas with Lewis Hamilton promoted to sixth.

Leclerc crashed in qualifying after his front-right tyre brushed the Armco on the entry to the swimming pool chicane, destabilising his Ferrari and sending him over the kerb and into the barrier on the opposing side of the track.

A Ferrari statement two hours before the race read: “Following further in-depth checks this morning, no apparent defects were found on Charles Leclerc’s gearbox, therefore the Monegasque driver will start today’s race from pole position, as per the qualifying result.”

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