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Monaco Grand Prix LIVE: Verstappen leads in effort to cut Hamilton gap, Leclerc OUT

F1 preview: A lap of the Monaco Grand Prix

Monaco Grand Prix LIVE updates

– Pole-sitter Charles Leclerc pulls out pre-race after Ferrari suffer problems on formation lap
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen leads from Valtteri Bottas after starting on front row alone
– World champion Lewis Hamilton down in seventh for Mercedes
– Verstappen 14 points behind Hamilton in the championship
– Race gets underway at 2pm UK time

Lap 20: “Let’s show us how much more pace you’ve got,” Bottas is told on the radio.

Not long until the pitstops now. Can they help shake up the order? There’s been no changes since the first lap.

Norris meanwhile gets a black and white flag for track limits at turn 10, presumably cutting the chicane. “No more mistakes,” the McLaren pitwall say.

Lap 17: Williams’ George Russell is still running despite battling power unit issues. The Briton is running down in 15th.

His countryman Hamilton meanwhile says on the Mercedes radio: “These guys are super slow ahead.”

The seven-time world champion is around two seconds behind Gasly still.

Lap 13: “Tyres are good, I’m managing quite a lot. Probably a second if I go all out or more,” says Sebastian Vettel in the Aston Martin.

Seventh-placed Vettel is over six seconds behind Hamilton despite that.

Further ahead, leader Verstappen sets a new fastest lap in his Red Bull with a 1:16.265. Team-mate Sergio Perez soon beats it and goes 1:15.881.

Monaco Grand Prix LIVE

Monaco Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

Lap 9: “Yeah, it’s hard to follow,” says Hamilton as he trails the AlphaTauri of Gasly, who is two seconds ahead of him in fifth.

Hamilton is 10-and-a-half seconds behind race leader Verstappen. It’d be some turnaround for him to win today.

Lap 4: Not a good start for Daniel Ricciardo with the Australian’s McLaren dropping from 11th to 13th.

We’ve got 74 more laps to come in Monaco so let’s hope for some more excitement.

Verstappen a little over a second ahead of Bottas, with Sainz four seconds behind the leader.

Lap 1: Verstappen gets away well on the start on the outside line, coming across to cover off Bottas, who had clean air with no Leclerc ahead of him. 

Bottas locks up into turn one but stays ahead of Sainz, who is being closely followed by McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Pierre Gasly is behind Norris with Hamilton still down in sixth. Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez, Antonio Giovinazzi and Esteban Ocon complete the current top 10.


Monaco Grand Prix LIVE

Monaco Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

1.50pm: Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff tells Sky Sports F1: “I’m surprised because they checked the box. It’s a shame, he’s Monegasque and he deserved it, his lap was spectacular.

“Max can score 25 points, that’s not good for us. We wanted Charles to lead. Let’s see what opportunity it gives to Valtteri.

“Lewis and Valtteri can work together here. Maybe Lewis can play a role. He isn’t happy of course but he’s a fighter. We’ve had setbacks in Monaco before, let’s see how he can climb from P7.”

1.45pm: More disappointment for Leclerc – he will not race at all at his home circuit.

“We’re not racing I am afraid,” Laurent Mekies tells the stewards on team radio. “Sorry to hear,” replies race director Masi.

Ferrari have a problem with the left driveshaft that is impossible to fix before the race start.

Leclerc looks gutted as he walks through the paddock despite cheers from the crowd. Verstappen now has a golden chance to make up ground on championship leader Hamilton.

1.35pm: The pits are closed and that’s it confirmed, Leclerc will be starting from the pits if he can start at all. Devastation for the Monegasque, but those gearbox problems are too much for Ferrari.

“We have an issue. We’re not going to the grid. We try to fix it here. We will not make it to the grid,” Ferrari tell FIA race director Michael Masi.

It’s Verstappen on the front row on his own now, as the grid will not be shuffled up, with Bottas getting clean air in third on the inside of the Red Bull.

Can the Dutchman clinch a race win and overtake Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship?

Monaco Grand Prix LIVE

Monaco Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

1.30pm: Here’s what Hamilton, the last race winner in Monaco back in 2019, meanwhile had to say yesterday after qualifying only seventh.

“It didn’t feel too bad on Thursday and we made some changes and it was pretty terrible today,” he told Sky Sports F1. “We go back to the drawing board.

“It’s almost impossible to overtake here so…. Up front where we are it’s pretty much the case when everyone is on the same speed. Saturday is the day [in Monaco], so obviously that really does put for sure the win out of reach.

“I guess the minimum would be hopefully seventh and then we’ve got to somehow see how we can move forwards.”

He added on social media: “Failure never feels good but it provides us with opportunities for growth. We have struggled this weekend, for many different reasons but we win and we lose together.

“Tomorrow will be tough, so if you got time, do a little rain dance for me. Let the heavens open.”

1.25pm: Pre-race drama! “No, no, no, the glovebox guys,” Leclerc says on his team radio as he crawls round the track on the formation lap.

Leclerc heads back to the pits and is going through the gears as Ferrari look to get to the bottom of their problems. Will he have to start from the pits?

There’s not long for Ferrari to change the gearbox if they have to.

Monaco Grand Prix LIVE: Ferrari's Leclerc starts on pole ahead of Verstappen, Hamilton 7th

Monaco Grand Prix LIVE (Image: GETTY)

1.20pm: Leclerc’s collision with the barriers, which left him with front and side damage, means today’s starting grid looks like this…
1st: Charles Leclerc, 2nd: Max Verstappen
3rd: Valtteri Bottas, 4th: Carlos Sainz
5th: Lando Norris, 6th: Pierre Gasly
7th: Lewis Hamilton, 8th: Sebastian Vettel
9th: Sergio Perez, 10th: Antonio Giovinazzi
11th: Esteban Ocon, 12th: Daniel Ricciardo
13th: Lance Stroll, 14th: Kimi Raikkonen
15th: George Russell, 16th: Yuki Tsunoda
17th: Fernando Alonso, 18th: Nicholas Latifi
19th: Nikita Mazepin, 20th: Mick Schumacher

It’s certainly an intringuingly mixed grid. Might we get some Monaco drama after all? Let’s hope so.

1.10pm: Ferrari’s social media statement on pole-sitter Leclerc earlier was as follows…

“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.”

1pm: Good afternoon and welcome to Express Sport’s live coverage of the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix!

Charles Leclerc starts on pole after Ferrari confirmed no gearbox damage to his SF21 despite his shunt into the wall at swimming pool at the end of qualifying.

The Ferrari crash meant Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas were denied a chance to snatch pole as the session was red-flagged.

And that means it’s advantage to the Monegasque in Monaco, a tricky notoriously tricky to overtake on.

Of the other big stories, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton starts well down in seventh after a dreadful Saturday.

The Briton has ruled out taking a race win today but he’ll hope to lessen the damage as Verstappen looks to cut the gap to the championship leader.

Today’s race gets underway at 2pm and we’ll have live lap-by-lap updates for you once the lights are out.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Charles Leclerc heartbreak as Ferrari driver retires from Monaco Grand Prix before race

Ferrari ace Charles Leclerc has dramatically been ruled out of the Monaco Grand Prix after suffering an issue with his left driveshaft on his out lap ahead of the race.

Leclerc discovered the issue as he circulated the Monte Carlo circuit to take up his place at the front of the grid for today’s race after qualifying on pole position yesterday.

As the Ferrari driver was heading towards the grid to line up on pole position, a despondent Leclerc shouted over the radio, “No! No! No! No!” as the car started slowing.

The Ferrari driver limped the car back to the pits to be checked by the team, but ultimately ran out of time to get to the grid and the pit lane closed, and the hometown hero climbed out of the car and retired from the race before he even took up his place on the grid.

After crashing heavily at the end of Saturday’s qualifying session, the team confirmed in a statement they were satisfied Leclerc’s gearbox had survived the crash without incurring significant damage.

“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,” the team announced.

An initial assessment of the damage on Leclerc’s car by the team revealed “no serious damage”, but Ferrari confirmed in a statement after qualifying that they would conduct further checks on Sunday and “prioritise reliability over pole”.

The Monegasque driver topped the timesheets in both Q1 and Q2 and was once again the fastest in Q3 in the first run and had put his car on provisional pole in the first run with Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas just behind him.

Most cars were out in the final couple of minutes to try and improve on their time, but Leclerc’s collision with the wall with just 18 seconds left on the clock effectively halted any hot laps from his rivals as he sealed his first pole position of 2021. 

However, there was some concern Leclerc would suffer a five-place grid penalty after the heavy impact, which saw the scarlet Ferrari planted into the wall towards the end of the lap at the swimming pool complex, with many pundits expressing concern that Leclerc’s gearbox may have incurred damage serious enough to force a replacement.

Leclerc would have been given an automatic five-place grid penalty, and would have lost his maiden hometown pole, if the team had opted to replace the gearbox.

But, despite the car subsequently being given a clean bill of health, Leclerc’s dream of winning Formula 1’s most iconic race in his home town was wiped out before he even saw the starting lights as an issue with his left drive shaft forced him out of the Grand Prix.

It meant that the rest of the grid formed up in the same spots as before, with Leclerc the notable absentee from the pole position spot, as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took over at the head of the field.

It was a shocking turn of events ahead of the biggest F1 race of the year, with Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff sympathising with Leclerc, who missed out on a huge opportunity in his home race.

“I’m surprised because they checked the box,” Wolff told Sky Sports before the race start.

“It’s a shame, he’s Monegasque and he deserved it, his lap was spectacular.”

Wolff also explained that Leclerc’s removal from the front row of the grid also causes his own team additional headaches, with their championship rival Max Verstappen afforded a free run into Sainte Devote.

“Max can score 25 points – that’s not good for us,” he said.

“We wanted Charles to lead. Let’s see what opportunity it gives to Valtteri.

“Lewis and Valtteri can work together here. Maybe Lewis can play a role. He isn’t happy, of course, but he’s a fighter.

“We’ve had setbacks in Monaco before, let’s see how he can climb from P7.”

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc has two Monaco Grand Prix concerns after taking 'surprise' pole

Charles Leclerc admits he’s concerned about the gearbox of his SF21 after crashing out in the Ferrari in the final seconds of Monaco Grand Prix qualifying, though he made sure of pole position in doing so. The Monegasque driver will front the grid in his homeland on Sunday provided he has not damaged his gearbox, which would incur a penalty.
Leclerc would drop to P6 if his gearbox were to need changing and would cancel out all the hard work the 23-year-old put in on Saturday.

His pole was his and Ferrari’s first since the 2019 Mexico Grand Prix and provided he does not take any penalties, offers him an excellent chance of a maiden race win in his home country and only the third of his career. 

But he insists he is incredibly unfortunate in Monaco and also says he’s worried about the state of his machinery, having sustained damage to the front and side of his car.

Leclerc told Sky Sports F1: “It’s a shame to finish in the wall, it doesn’t feel the same. At the same time I’m incredibly happy about my first time lap.

“The first corner was quite tricky, I didn’t do a great first corner but the second and third sectors, I nailed it. Just very, very happy to be on pole obviously.

“It was very, very difficult to manage myself mentally after Q2. I could feel I was quite emotional in the car but I told myself ‘now it’s Q3, now it’s time to put everything together.’

“I managed to do so so I’m incredibly happy. It’s tomorrow that we score points but I have to say it’s a big surprise for everyone to be on pole and in fourth place for the race tomorrow.”

Leclerc crashing out meant Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas could not beat his time, with the session abandoned.

And asked if he now has a real chance to win Sunday’s race, Leclerc said: “I’ve always been very unlucky here so let’s wait and see.”

Then quizzed about whether he’s worried about gearbox damage, the two-time race-winner admitted: “I am. But let’s see.”

Verstappen, who will start second, said: “It’s unfortunate for the red flag. I felt really comfortable building up to qualifying.

“Nobody was really putting a lap time in on the first lap and that’s how we planned it out, to do two laps then the third one was the fastest.

“The second run with the fresh laps we did I was feeling good. I was quite a bit down on my lap time so I’m gutted.

“I think we made good progress throughout the week with the car. Definitely happier with it in qualifying. We should’ve had a shot at pole in the last run.

“We’ll try anything we can tomorrow in the race. It’s Monaco, anything can happen.”

Victory for Leclerc on Sunday would only be Ferrari’s second since 2001, with their last coming via Sebastian Vettel in 2019.

The Italian team endured their worst season in 40 years last season but are looking stronger in 2021 and sit fourth in the Constructors’ Championship ahead of the Monaco race.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Max Verstappen breaks down and Charles Leclerc crashes as Mercedes dominate practice

He told Autosport: “Man, you know it’s super hard, but of course you have to give credit to Lewis.

“[For] the way he has dealt with all the years, to always come back and be honoured and win that amount of races and championships. You definitely cannot go around Lewis.

“But, of course, there are still a lot of other people in F1, I think who are very good, very strong, and would have been very good in that car as well.”

Hamilton meanwhile played down a potential rivalry between the pair ahead of the weekend, saying it’s early days in the season.

“Look, we’re only going into the second race, so I can’t assume and I can’t guess what’s up ahead of us.

This article originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Charles Leclerc aiming to dethrone Lewis Hamilton after Ferrari drop hint over car

“After other people have done their work, we’ll see how it goes on track. So yes I hope we’ll be back in command soon.”

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto is also hopeful that Ferrari can begin to turn things around this season with Carlos Sainz teaming up with Leclerc.

“I think last year the main issue was the speed on the straight line, not only the power but also drag,” said Binotto.

“We’ve worked a lot, both on the power unit and the car aerodynamics, to reduce the drag of the car.

Daily Express :: Sport Feed