Monaco GP Qualifying Top Three Press Conference

Monaco GP Qualifying Top Three Press Conference

Monaco GP Qualifying Top Three Press Conference

Full transcript from the top three FIA press conference after Qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix at, Round 8 of the 2024 Formula 1 World Championship.

Featuring pole-winner Charles Leclerc (Ferrari); second-placed Oscar Piastri (McLaren) and third-placed Carlos Sainz (Ferrari).

Track Interviews conducted by (Conducted by Loïc Duval)

Q: Charles, it’s your third pole position here at home in Monaco. The laps looked amazing. How was it out there?

Charles LECLERC: It was nice. The feeling after a qualifying lap is always very special here. Really, really happy about the lap. The excitement is so high that it feels really good. However, I know more often than not in the past, qualifying is not everything. As much as it helps a lot for Sunday’s race, we need to put everything together coming Sunday. And in the past years, we didn’t manage to do so. But we are a stronger team. We are in a stronger position. And I’m sure we can achieve great things tomorrow. And obviously, the win is the target.

Q: So what do you need then? You know, there’s less than 200 metres from the first row to the first corner. Then there is a long race, of course. You know that it didn’t turn out your way in the past years. What do you need to make sure that this time is going to be the day?

CL: I need a good launch. I need a good launch off the grid. And then once we do that, then hopefully Carlos can have a great start and follow me into Turn 1 and be 1-2. And if we are 1-2, then we can manage that as a team. That would be the perfect scenario. But whatever happens, we just need to bring that victory home.

Q: All right. Congratulations and thank you. Guys, here’s the Prince of Monaco. Charles is in pole position for tomorrow’s race.

CL: Perfect. Thank you very much. Thank you. Merci à tous, vraiment.

Q: Oscar, really close to the first pole here in Monaco. We can see the momentum coming with the team everywhere. You’re getting better, better. It’s so close. So what was missing today to get that pole?

Oscar PIASTRI: Good question. I mean, I think if you took the second half of my first lap in Q3 and the first half of the second one, it would have been enough. But, yeah, just a couple of mistakes at the end. But, you know, credit to Charles. He’s been incredibly quick all weekend. At certain points, I don’t think anyone thought we were going to get close to him. So, yeah, nice to be starting on the front row. I feel like it’s been a good weekend in terms of building momentum. And, yeah, what better colours to do it in than these?

Q: What are you going to do tomorrow to try to beat the home hero here? Is it at the start? Is it all about strategy? We know that it’s difficult to overtake, so what do you need to make this happen?

OP: A bit of both. I mean, a good start always helps. And if you can get into the lead, then you can control it very easily around here. So that’s probably the first goal. And if not, then with strategy. Because, yeah, as optimistic as I want to be, overtaking around here is not easy. So we’ll try our best, but starting from a good spot and yeah, a chance for a good day tomorrow.

Q: Carlos, P1 and P3 for Ferrari, third position for you. Still, everything is possible from there, of course. The car looks really, really good today. How much risk did you have to take to make this happen?

Carlos SAINZ: Yeah, I think overall it was an improvement for me. I’ve been struggling all weekend with confidence and feeling with the car. So overall, to step it up and be P3 was a step forward. Obviously not entirely happy because I wish I could have been fighting for pole position. But the truth is that Charles has been doing an outstanding job. The car has been amazing all this weekend and he managed to extract the most out of it. And yeah, I’m happy for him.

Q: How is the car in long runs? Of course, it’s all about qualifying, but you still have a race to do. How is the car in long runs? Do you think that you have something in the pocket to beat at least one McLaren?

CS: Yeah, definitely. Yesterday, I looked very quick on the long run, so for some reason, this weekend, I’ve been struggling on the short runs, and the long run seemed much better, which is something we will need to look into, but I’m confident that tomorrow the pace in the long run will be good. It’s just a matter of track position here, and we’ve lost it with not a great quali position. But, you know, it’s Monaco. Anything can happen, like always, and we will give it our best shot, but the priority will be to win with Charles tomorrow.


Q: Very well done, Charles. What a lap. You saved your best until last. First up, how special does it feel to take another pole here at home in Monaco?

CL: It feels as good as the first one. I think in Monaco, the emotions you get, the tension that you have before getting into the car is so much more than anywhere else on the calendar. So yeah, once you finish the lap and you hear that you’re on pole position, it’s always a very special feeling. However, maybe in the past the emotions were staying for longer, but now obviously having started twice on pole and not bringing the victory, which is at the end what matters the most, is where my mind is at the moment, just trying to prepare and make everything possible. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster. The weekend has been incredible until after FP3 where there was an issue with my engine and there was an engine swap at the very last minute, which was quite tricky. But fortunately for me, there wasn’t any consequence for my weekend.

Q: We will come on to the race in a second, but how smooth was that session for you? And at one point you came on the radio and said there was a problem with the pedals, I think. Could you just clarify what that was about?

CL: Yeah, I mean, I felt something strange, but actually after that, the feeling was fine.

Q: What about the session then? Did it build as you’d hoped going into qualifying?

CL: No, no, we were… In Q1 it was very tricky, I took that sticker, that sponsor sticker on the lap. That was pretty important at that time, which slowed us down quite a bit. Then we pitted, we took off the sponsor banner from the front wing, we went again. So that was already quite tricky, because in qualifying in Monaco you just want to be out and just do normal laps, so I was just praying for no yellow flags or red flags after that. Luckily for me, it was okay. Then in Q2, we struggled a little bit more with the balance of the car. I couldn’t find the right feeling. But then in Q3, we did some modifications, especially with the front wing and the tools and my driving, and then I found the pace again, so I was a little bit happier in Q3. But the feeling was, for some reason, a bit better in FP2, FP3.

Q: Is this the best Ferrari you’ve driven through these streets?

CL: I think 2022, I unfortunately couldn’t finish the lap in Q3, the second lap in Q3, because there was the red flag for Checo. I think this would have been quite a bit better, and I think the car was in an even better place back then, because it was a very smooth qualifying. It’s all about the build-up in Monaco, and maybe in [this] qualifying we didn’t have the smoothest of build-up, but that doesn’t mean I’m not happy with the lap. I’m extremely happy with the lap. I’m very, very happy with the car and it’s been a really good weekend until now. But as I said, we shouldn’t get carried away with the pole position.

Q: So how are you approaching the race tomorrow?

CL: As always, we just try to approach every race the same. Obviously, having in mind that it’s Monaco here, track position is very important, and we’ll try to maximise our race and take that victory. Yeah, all of what I said is very obvious, but we are just trying to approach it as a normal race, and that’s what we’ll do.

Q: How easy is it to protect pole position on the run to Sainte-Devote?

CL: Well, I didn’t see many times people losing into Turn 1, so I guess it’s a very short run down to Turn 1. But never say never. Obviously, we’ll focus on the start and we’ll see what happens.

Q: Very well done today. Thank you, Charles. Oscar, let’s come to you now. Great job by you. You’ve split the Ferraris here at Monaco. How satisfied are you with that session?

OP: Yeah, I think on the whole, very happy with it. We were struggling a little bit through the weekend. We didn’t really know quite where we sat. A bit of work to do after FP3, but the car felt very good in qualifying. I think the last lap of Q3, there are a few corners I wish I could have again, but yeah, when you’re pushing so hard, it’s kind of inevitable that there’s going to be mistakes here and there. So no, very happy with it. I think the pace in the car was good. And yeah, I think for a Monaco qualifying, it went reasonably smoothly. I hit the wall pretty hard in Q2, so that was a bit of a scare. Apart from that, it was a smooth qualifying and happy to be on the front row and hopefully staying on the front row this week.

Q: You say there are a couple of corners which you wished you could have again. The gap between you and Charles was a couple of tenths. Can you visualise where you lost that time?

OP: Yeah, I think Turn 5 and Turn 10, the chicane after the tunnel, were not my best. I think the rest of the lap was pretty solid, just struggled a little bit in those two corners. Whether it would have been enough for pole, I’m not sure. Yeah, I mean, for me, it’s pretty pointless saying if you could have done… Max summed it up very well a few weeks ago. I won’t repeat it, but it’s a good analogy, and I think everybody can say the same. So, yeah, pretty happy with it on the whole.

Q: And, Oscar, this is your second P2 in consecutive weeks on very different race tracks. Does this mean that you and McLaren can now be quick everywhere?

OP: Yes, I think so. I think we came into this weekend pretty confident that we could be in the fight for pole and the win again. I think going into qualifying, maybe we weren’t as convinced this week, but no, it felt good. Yeah, pretty hooked up in qualifying. And I think for me, you know, we say Imola and Monaco are very different circuits, but both of them need a lot of commitment. You know, Imola, you get it a bit wrong, you’re in the gravel trap and the wall. Here, there’s no gravel trap, it’s just the wall. So they’re both two pretty big commitment tracks, obviously here being a step above everywhere. But yeah, maybe a bit more similar than people think.

Q: Alright, and Oscar, final one. What about tomorrow then, the race? Where do the opportunities lie for you?

OP: I mean, the run to Turn 1 is always your best chance at any track. Here, obviously, it’s a very short run, like we know. Yeah, the strategy, you can try something because unless there’s a massive pace difference, which I’m pretty sure there won’t be, then overtaking is impossible here. So, yeah, it’ll be won or lost in the pits, probably. So make sure we have a good day.

Q: Alright, very well done to you. Thank you. Carlos, coming to you now. Great job as well. Look, just sum up the session as a whole, first of all.

CS: Well, just summing up the weekend in general, it’s been a bit of a struggle for me right from the beginning. I haven’t been as confident as I normally am around Monaco and I haven’t been at my best. Luckily, we stepped it up for quali and in quali I was feeling one step better. Unfortunately, it was a bit too late and I was still lacking those last couple of tenths from confidence. Anyway, very happy to see Charles putting it on pole and the team having such a strong car around Monaco and being in a position to win the race with Charles tomorrow. Overall, I think I’m very happy for the team. A bit unfortunate that the weekend that I’ve struggled the most with the car has to be in Monaco, where qualifying is so important.

Q: What have been the issues with the car?

CS: Just a lack of confidence. Like Oscar was saying, you need a lot of commitment around here, and maybe this lack of confidence around another track would be half a tenth to a tenth of commitment. In Monaco means it’s two or three tenths. Luckily for quali, as I said, i stepped it up and I was a bit closer but there were stages of the weekend that I was really, really lacking, really struggling, which is a bit of a new thing for me around Monaco because I’ve normally felt really comfortable around here. So something we will have to look into. but yeah, keeping the positives, we managed to save the weekend with a with a decent couple of laps in Q3, and we will go from there tomorrow.

Q: Carlos, sorry to dwell on it, but it’s an interesting point. What is the car doing that is not giving you the confidence you need?

CS: Just a bit of inconsistency. I’ve had a lot of moments in practice, and when you have so many moments of nearly touching the wall, nearly having a session over when you’re so close to the walls, this immediately takes away confidence. And I’ve had a lot of those during the practice, and it meant that for some reason I was just lacking confidence from then onwards. But, yeah, just losing the rear in places where you don’t expect to lose it and then never getting quite close to the walls as I wish, because I had to leave myself a bit of margin in case the rear was snapping on me. So, yeah, as I said, not ideal, but we managed to save it.

Q: OK, and you’ve just said you’d like to see Charles win the race tomorrow. How confident are you of getting ahead of Oscar, at the very least?

CS: We will see what we can do at the start, what we can do with strategy in order to do every single bit possible to help Charles to go and get that win. He’s been driving amazing all weekend. I think part of that delta comes from Charles also being super committed and having a particularly strong weekend. This weekend I think he’s been on it since FP1 and he’s been extremely quick. So yeah, we will do everything we can to win the race tomorrow.


Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Question to Charles, please. First of all, congratulations on pole position. You mentioned the changes you made ahead of Q3 on the front wing and the steering wheel tools. I just wondered, how did it feel different around the lap? Was there a couple of particular places or just better everywhere?

CL: No, it felt better everywhere. I think what we struggled with the most coming to quali and the thing that is most difficult to actually counter, which normally we always try to anticipate the new conditions, but one thing you cannot really anticipate is that you are going faster through a corner. And that means with the bumps they are in Monaco, the wheel lifting and just the amount of time you pass in the air with the wheels not touching the ground is just quite a bit more compared to FP3 because of the increased speed around the corners. And that made it a lot more tricky to actually feel the balance and to just be on the limit and be consistent. So I was a little bit less consistent. Then I started to be a bit more aggressive with the front wing to have a bit more load and help that, and that was a bit better. As I said, I think the best feeling of the weekend was FP2, FP3. However, in quali, it was still good, and it was still the best out of everybody, and I think we’ve got a great car but it was just a bit of a trickier session to put everything together, but I’m happy we did so for Q3.

Q: (Fred Ferret – L’Equipe) Question to Charles. Have you planned something different for tonight compared to the other Saturdays where you get pole?

CL: No. No, no, no. Nothing different. At the end, we did the job on the Saturday and then the only thing I can do is to try and focus on the Sunday’s race and do the best we can do as a team. But as I’ve said, I think in the past there were some mistakes. We were in different situations. I think the team has got a lot stronger since then. As I said, we’ll approach this race as all the others, and I’m confident that we’ll do a great job.

Q: (Diletta Colombo – Auto Motor) A question for Charles. Confidence is key here in Monaco. Did you think you could be a strong contender for pole position as soon as you hit a track in free practice?

CL: In FP1, yes. But I prefer to have FP2, FP3 as positive as it was. But when you have such a good FP2, FP3, and also FP1, you go into quali knowing that you’ve got everything to lose. And if you don’t take pole position, then you look completely stupid. The pressure was still quite a lot on, but we managed to pull it off, which was really nice. And obviously, as I mentioned earlier, with the change of engine at the last minute, that wasn’t making me any more calm. So it was a bit of a tense quali going into qualifying.

Q: (Carlo Platella – Another question for Charles. Last year after qualifying, you said that the biggest negative difference between SF23 and the 2022 car here in Monaco was bump riding. So what’s the biggest difference from last year to now?

CL: I think just the same, but in the good direction this time. And this year, I think we’ve had a very good kerb riding compared to the others. I think this is a strength. So yeah, kerb riding has been very good since the beginning of the weekend. And I think that gave us a lot of consistency around a track like here, especially in low-grip conditions like this was the case in free practices. So that was positive.

Q: (Giles Richards – The Guardian) Just a question for Charles again. This will be third time for you starting from pole here. Do you feel any added pressure given the bad luck you’ve had from pole in the past and that this might be finally the time you throw the monkey off your back?

CL: No, not at all. I think the tension, the peak of the tension actually of the whole season, I would say, is in qualifying in Monaco. Then for the race, it’s not like you are more relaxed, but, well, yeah, actually you are more relaxed just because the race, you’ve got to focus on the start, you’ve got to focus around the pit stop, because obviously the laps around the pit stop are extremely important, but… Yeah, the qualifying in Monaco is a big part of the job. It is true that in the past we didn’t have the success that we wanted, but I don’t want to think about that anymore. And I’m pretty sure that it will be a good one this weekend.

Q: (Luke Smith – The Athletic) Oscar, question for you. Last couple of races, the pace has clearly been there, but things maybe haven’t quite gone your way. How important would a big result be tomorrow, to kind of set the season on the right track and show that the pace has always been there, just needed a bit more luck?

OP: I don’t think it changes the world. For me, I always try to not think about the end results so much. I think for me, leaving a weekend satisfied with what I’ve done in my control is a more important thing. I think the last two weekends, especially Imola, have been very much the case. I think I’ve put myself in a good position for a good result tomorrow. Yeah, you know, I’m not really concerned with whatever the result is. I want to get through the race, getting to the end of the weekend going, ‘I don’t think I could have done anything more than that’. So that would be more meaningful to me. Of course, if you get a trophy at the end, especially the biggest one, then it feels nice, but I think the momentum in the last few weekends is definitely already helping with results that in the history books mean not a lot. So, it would be nice, but if I can leave this weekend thinking I’ve not been able to do anything more that would mean more to me.

Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Question for Charles. Charles, have you allowed yourself to think how you would feel if you actually won here in Monaco? And if you do win tomorrow, do you think that puts you back in the frame for the championship, given Max is way back in sixth?

CL: I haven’t thought about it too much. I had lots of other things to think of until now. And my priority was to have the right qualifying position, which now is done. However, now we have to focus on the race and I cannot afford to start thinking about how it will feel if this happens. I think I have more to gain in focusing on the process to get there and what can we do in what we control until tomorrow’s race to put everything together and to give us the best chances in order to win the race tomorrow. The championship is still long. I don’t think one race is going to change everything for us. So, yeah, we’ve got to stay calm. And I think it’s too early to think about that. I think Red Bull has still got the strongest car on the grid. However, it’s true that on a track like this that is so specific, they didn’t have the best car and they struggled a lot more. But that doesn’t mean that it will be the case until the end of the season. So, yeah, too early to say.

Q: (Matt Coch – Speedcafe) One to Charles and one to your brother, Oscar. Going into Turn 1 tomorrow, how do you balance aggression versus conservation, given that’s realistically the only chance you’ve got to either gain or lose a place short of strategy or something untoward happening?

CL: I mean we are we are family. So starting on the front row both of us will have a meeting with my mum tonight and I’m sure she will calm us down and hopefully I can get through Turn 1 in the first position and Oscar in the second place. But yeah, let’s see. Obviously I think… [To Carlos] Do you want me to adopt you as well? Don’t be jealous, Carlos.

CS: You know, I need a haircut from your mom here. I need to find a new hairdresser in Monaco.

CL: Whenever you want. Whenever you want. I think she has availability. And she will find some for you, for sure. So, yeah, I think that we just need to focus on ourselves. We can only control what we can do best, and that starts with a good start. If we have a good start, I have little doubt that we’ll keep that position into Turn 1. And we’ve had good starts recently, so I’m not too worried.

Q: Oscar, I think Matt was directing that question at you as well, just the run to Turn 1 with your brother?

CL: I mean, it’s a short run compared to everyone else. I don’t know. I might try and bribe your mum to let me go through, but I don’t know. It’s a short run, obviously, and, you know, it is Monaco still, but the race isn’t all won and lost at Turn 1. There’s still some things you can do. You can put pressure on and make the right strategy calls, and it can still get you through. So, yeah, it’s not the be-all and end-all, but it would certainly make life a bit easier.

Q: (Carlos Miguel – Diario Marca) A question for Sainz. Carlos, because we know it’s impossible to overtake in Monaco, do you have any chance to win tomorrow?

CS: I think in a normal race it’s impossible and then the focus will be, like I said before, to see what we can do with the two cars to win the race with Charles, that he’s in the best possible position to do so. Then obviously Monaco, you never know, all sorts of things can happen, but if I win tomorrow it’s probably because something weird has happened with Charles with strategy or with Safety Cars that I hope they don’t in a way. Obviously, we all want to win, but at the same time, I feel like Charles deserves to win in Monaco after his unlucky run. He’s been extremely strong all week, all weekend, and here in the past, so, yeah, tomorrow is a day to kind of wish that nothing happens and see if we can win with Charles.

Q: (Laurie Vermeersch – The level of adrenaline is, we guess, very high after such a quali. It’s a question to all of you. Higher than anywhere else. How do you manage this in order to be in good shape tomorrow, to be in the good mindset? Are you even able to sleep after such a high intensity qualification?

OP: I think I got the start of the question. For me, Monaco qualifying is the most exciting session of the whole year. I think for us as drivers, I think for the fans watching, Yeah, I think if there’s one session you want to watch for the whole year, it’s the session we just had. So yeah, for me, it gives you a feeling like nowhere else, especially when you put a good lap together. It’s very, very satisfying here. And yeah, I don’t really have more than that.

Q: Can you sleep?

OP: Will I sleep? I hope so. Yes, I mean, of course I will. I think the adrenaline is always there on a race weekend. But yeah, I should be fine, I hope.

CL: Yeah, I don’t struggle too much to sleep, so I think I should be fine.

CS: Same. I’m a good sleeper. Seven, eight hours should be fine for me. If there’s one day maybe you don’t sleep, it’s Friday to Saturday after Friday I had, but I managed to sleep, so all good for tomorrow.

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Charles, you just said Monaco qualifying is the peak of tension for the whole season. Every time the camera cut to you between Q1, Q2 to Q3, when things were a little bit closer than they might have looked in practice, you mentioned you look a bit stupid if you dominate practice and then don’t get pole position. Were you able to stay calm in the car at that moment?

CL: Yeah, yeah. I mean, once you are in the car, actually, you feel so good. Or at least I felt so good and everything goes away. It’s more the two hours in between FP3 to quali, that there you start to feel a little bit the tension, that you know that you need to prepare everything, that you need to anticipate track conditions, and all of this. But as soon as I put the helmet and then I’m in the car, I’m completely fine, and I really don’t feel anything anymore.