Charles Leclerc believes he will need to make a “special lap” to beat Red Bull to claim pole position in Monaco, but the local hero is not turning down Ferrari’s other rivals.
After a series of disappointing races, the last of which in Miami he crashed twice, Charles Leclerc finds himself on the brink of his home race with a burning desire to rekindle his racing fortune.
Fueled by the fervent support of his Monegasque fans, the Ferrari driver is determined to deliver an exceptional performance in front of his home crowd.
However, navigating the treacherous corners of Monte Carlo will require perfect play from both team and driver all weekend against the dominant Red Bull RB19 driven by Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, which will start in Saturday’s qualifying.
“Honestly, I think Red Bull is still a team to beat,” Leclerc said on Thursday. “With a special lap, maybe we can beat them in qualifying.”
Leclerc did just that in Baku, where Ferrari’s one-lap pace and clean performance earned him pole position.
But in the race, beating Red Bull to the checkered flag will be a difficult task, not to mention grappling with the ambitions of Aston Martin and Mercedes.
“In the race they are extremely fast,” he added. “But again, overtaking is very difficult on a track like this. And not only Red Bull is fast – Aston Martin will be in the mix, Mercedes came with a completely different looking car which I’m curious to see how it performs.
“We need to see where we are and what is possible.”
Racing past famous landmarks on the streets where he grew up is a unique experience in itself for Leclerc.
But navigating Monaco’s tight lanes in qualifying and going all-in around Casino Square is a thrill like no other, he says.
“Every time we arrive at this track, it’s about pushing yourself to the limit step by step, all the way to qualifying where you’ll give it your all, and it’s an amazing feeling,” explained the two-time Monaco pole position winner.
“The emotions and adrenaline that accompany this track are amazing.
“It reminds me a bit of my karting days where you don’t really have time to think because there are no straights – it’s corner after corner.
“It’s just very exciting and probably the best qualifying of the year.”
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