Charles Leclerc has been ruled out of Formula 1’s Monaco Grand Prix before the race even started after he encountered a gearbox issue on his way to the grid.
The Ferrari driver claimed a sensational pole position at his home race but crashed out on his final lap of qualifying, leaving him concerned about potential damage to his gearbox.
Ferrari confirmed on Sunday morning that it had found “no apparent defects” with Leclerc’s gearbox following several checks ahead of the race.
It opted not to change the gearbox so that Leclerc could start from pole and avoid triggering a subsequent five-place grid penalty.
But during the reconnaissance laps to the grid, Leclerc reported an issue with the gearbox.
“No, no, no, noooo. Guys, the gearbox,” Leclerc said over team radio.
The Monagasque returned to the garage so Ferrari could attempt to fix the issue, but the team failed to get Leclerc’s car back out before the pitlane was closed.
Leclerc at best was set to be consigned to a pitlane start, but Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies told FIA race director Michael Masi that his driver will start the race.
Ferrari confirmed the problem related to the left driveshaft that was impossible to fix before the race start.
It continues a torrid run of bad luck at home for Leclerc, who is yet to finish a Monaco Grand Prix since starting in F1.
Max Verstappen will now lead the field away at the start of the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix.