Scuderia Ferrari have opened up about the “mistake” which led to Charles Leclerc’s disastrous Monaco GP qualifying, as the Maranello team counted the cost of another tough weekend in F1 2019. Charles Leclerc, who had set the pace in practice three, failed to clear Q1 and had to start 15th for his home race on the sport’s most difficult circuit to overtake, which led to his early retirement on Sunday.
Despite Charles making a mistake at Rascasse on the best lap of his first Q1 run, which left him mid-way down the order, Ferrari chose not to send the Monegasque out for a second attempt to sure-up a Q2 position – with damaging consequences. As other drivers improved in the final moments, Charles Leclerc could do nothing but watch on in the garage as he slipped below the cut line to 16th place. That becomes 15th on Sunday’s grid after a penalty for Antonio Giovinazzi, but remains scant consolation for both team and driver.
In a hastily-convened press conference to explain what had gone wrong, team boss Mattia Binotto told reporters: “It is not a good day. We made a mistake. That’s the way we may call what happened, nothing more. When the cut-off time is calculated we normally have a margin on top of it and the margin is good enough to afford for any tolerances whatever may happen during the session. Certainly what happened today is that the margin we applied was not sufficient. The track improvement has been very significant by the end of Q1 and the second [factor] was probably that our margin was not considering enough variability due to drivers feeling confidence [and going faster]. Certainly that margin in the future needs to be increased. The lesson of today is that in Monaco the margin needs to be greater.”
Leading German automobile magazine ‘Auto motor und sport’ enlarged upon the subject of Ferrari’s inexcusable error, offering a possible explanation for the Maranello team’s poor decision: “Inaki Rueda said after qualifying that he actually looked into the matter before a decision was made, to see if was enough or not and he came to the conclusion that it must be “just” enough. But in Monaco you can’t count on “just enough”. Ferrari is still listening too much to what the data says and they also don’t have a strong figure in their pit wall like James Vowles, who has the courage and responsibility to correct the decision which is illustrated by the data.” AMuS’ Michael Schmidt explained.