Leclerc to start Monaco GP from pole after Ferrari gearbox check

Charles Leclerc will start from pole position for Formula 1's Monaco Grand Prix after Ferrari gave the all-clear to his gearbox on Sunday morning.

Leclerc to start Monaco GP from pole after Ferrari gearbox check
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The Monegasque driver had faced an anxious wait overnight to see whether or not his gearbox would need replacing following his Q3 crash.

Had he needed a new gearbox fitted, it would have meant a five-place grid drop, handing pole position to Max Verstappen.

Ferrari gave the gearbox a quick inspection on Saturday evening before parc ferme restrictions began, and were satisfied that it had suffered no serious damage in the impact with the barriers at the end of qualifying.

However, it wanted to hold fire until more detailed checks had taken place on Sunday morning to see whether or not there was a risk of it failing.

That evaluation concluded that the gearbox had escaped unscathed from the impact with the barriers, and that means Leclerc will be able to take up his pole slot.

A statement from Ferrari said: "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."

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Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto had been clear after qualifying that the team would not take a gamble on pushing on with the gearbox if it felt there was a risk of it failing in the race.

The team is locked in a tight battle for third place in the constructors' championship with McLaren, and is just five points behind its Woking rival.

Speaking about Ferrari's views on the gearbox situation before the checks were complete, Binotto had said: "No, we will not gamble,

"I think for us what's important after such a qualy is to try to maximise the number of points for the championship, and obviously to maximise we need to finish the race.

"So reliability is key, reliability remains the priority. If we have any doubts, we will certainly change and fix it."

Confirmation of Leclerc taking up his pole position slot means that Verstappen will start from second place on the grid for Red Bull, ahead of Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari's Carlos Sainz.

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