Charles Leclerc suffers huge home Monaco GP heartache as pole man drops out before the race
Monaco's first home polesitter for 85 years unable to take the start as driveshaft issue strikes his Ferrari on first lap out of the pits; Ferrari say problem not related to the gearbox that caused concern after qualifying crash
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 23/05/21 5:04pm
Charles Leclerc suffered fresh home heartbreak ahead of the Monaco GP as pre-race technical problems on his Ferrari dropped him out of the race before the start.
The Ferrari driver had been due to start on pole position for the first time since 2019 but was forced out half an hour before the start after reporting problems with the SF21 on his lap to the grid.
As part of a nervy 24 hours after Leclerc had crashed heavily at the end of qualifying, the Monegasque's chances of starting from pole had already hung in the balance while Ferrari checked for damage to the car's gearbox on Saturday evening and then again on Sunday morning.
But while the unit was given the all-clear to run, Leclerc then ran into fresh problems on his first lap out of the pits. After returning to the garage and Ferrari soon confirmed he would be unable to take the start from even the end of the pit lane.
"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," tweeted Ferrari.
Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto said the driveshaft issue was on the other side of the car to the crash damage and not related to the gearbox. They would now analyse what exactly had gone wrong.
"We need to fully understand what happened," he told Sky Sports F1. "The failure is on the driveshaft into the hub on the left-hand side, so it's not a gearbox problem we had.
"The gearbox has been inspected yesterday evening, it has been rebuilt, and the gearbox was ok for the race. What happened is on the opposite side compared to the accident, so it may be completely unrelated to the accident. But something on which we need to carefully understand and analyse.
"We have no answer right now."
Having retired from his first two appearances at his home race in 2018-19, Leclerc is still yet to register a finish in the Principality. He also failed to finish in both his Monaco appearances in F2.
"In the garage it was very, very difficult to feel ok," Leclerc told Sky Sports F1.
"I'm getting used to this feeling unfortunately, I've never finished a race here. This year I don't start from pole, so it's a difficult one to take.
"But I also feel for the team. The mechanics have done such a hard job yesterday to try and check everything. The mechanics were a bit happy this morning to see that everything seemed fine and all the parts were fine. Then this happened, so it's a shame for everybody."
Max Verstappen inherited first place on the grid and went on to win the race for Red Bull, with Carlos Sainz second in the one-remaining Ferrari to open the team's podium account for 2021.
Classily, Leclerc attended the post-race celebrations on the pit straight with the rest of the Ferrari team as Sainz collected his first podium trophy in his fifth race for Ferrari.