Charles Leclerc: Ferrari driver wants 'explanation' after early qualifying knockout

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer in Monaco
Charles Leclerc
Lelcerc had topped final practice earlier in the day before being knocked out in Q1

Charles Leclerc demanded answers from his Ferrari team after a strategic error resulted in him qualifying 15th for his home Monaco Grand Prix.

Ferrari chose not to send Leclerc out for a second run at the end of the first session and he was knocked out - by his own team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

Leclerc said: "I asked whether they were sure [I was safe]. They said we think we are.

"I said, 'shouldn't we go again? I need an explanation."

Leclerc had originally qualified in 16th place but a three-place grid penalty for Antonio Giovinazzi, who was penalised for blocking Nico Hulkenberg in qualifying, promoted the home favourite to 15th.

Nevertheless, the result means Leclerc's race is already effectively a write-off, as overtaking is close to impossible around Monaco.

"Hopefully [there will be] some rain," he said. "If it is dry, it will be boring. I have to take a lot of risks, even risk to crash, but it's all I can do to take some risks.

"I'm very disappointed today. Hopefully tomorrow [in the race on Sunday] will be better but I doubt so if it's dry."

Ferrari were struggling in the first session and after the first runs Vettel was not quick enough to get through in the fastest 15 drivers without going for a second run.

But Ferrari felt Leclerc would be all right, despite clear signals that he was at risk.

Leclerc says he is waiting for an explanation from Ferrari with regards to their error in the first part of qualifying

His fastest lap on his first run was 0.3secs slower than the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, gaps are small in Monaco and the track speeds up quickly through the weekend as more rubber gets laid down.

Despite that, they elected not to send him out, and had to watch helpless as Leclerc tumbled down the lists as others improved.

To add insult to injury, Vettel was the man who dealt the final blow.

The German four-time champion, who crashed at the start of final practice and missed much of the session, had only just crossed the line in time to start his final lap.

Ferrari are yet to provide an explanation for the mix-up but the team will face serious questions.

In isolation, the error would be bad enough, but it is simply the latest in a series of questionable operational decisions made by Ferrari in the past two seasons.