(Reuters) – Initial checks of the gearbox on Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari have found no serious damage, the Italian team said, in a boost for their driver’s hopes of retaining pole position in his home Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday.
Leclerc crashed in the last minute of qualifying on Saturday, securing pole but dashing the hopes of rivals who had to abort their final flying laps.
The impact raised fears that the 23-year-old could lose the pole if the gearbox needed replacing, triggering a penalty that would drop Leclerc to sixth on the grid and promote Red Bull’s title contender Max Verstappen to pole.
A Ferrari spokeswoman said further checks would be carried out on Sunday to decide whether the same gearbox could be used in the race.
Team boss Mattia Binotto assured reporters the team would put safety first.
“We will not gamble,” he said. “For us what’s important after such a qualifying is to try to maximise the number of points for the championship, and obviously to maximise we need to finish the race.
“Reliability remains the priority. If we have any doubts, we will certainly change and fix it.”
The pole was Leclerc’s first in Monaco and eighth of his career. The last Monegasque to take a home pole was Louis Chiron in 1936, before the world championship came into existence.
It was also Ferrari’s first since Mexico in 2019.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, Editing by Hugh Lawson)