Charles Leclerc would’ve left the Monaco Grand Prix wondering what could’ve been, after yet another disastrous home race for the Monegasque driver.
After qualifying on pole having dominated the entire weekend, Leclerc took control of the wet race early on, looking all but certain to claim a well-deserved home victory.
However, it wasn’t to be yet again for the 24-year-old, after a number of shocking strategic errors by his Ferrari team.
With all the drivers starting on the extreme wets, most went on to the intermediates before the slicks.
Leclerc told his team that he wanted to wait until he could switch straight to a dry compound, therefore skipping a phase on the intermediates.
The team initially agreed, before suddenly bringing the Monegasque into the pits for intermediate tyres.
This allowed Sergio Pérez to jump Leclerc, with Max Verstappen following suit after a late call to pit Leclerc for slicks a few laps later.
Carlos Sainz on the other hand remained on the wet tyres, making only a single stop straight onto the hard compound.
By the time all the drivers were on a set of slick tyres, Pérez led the race, with Sainz in second, Verstappen in third and Leclerc in fourth.
The race finished in that order, leaving Leclerc “let down” as he told Sky Sports F1 how he felt.
“Let down is not the word, sometimes mistakes can happen but there has been too many mistakes today overall,” began Leclerc.
“Obviously in those conditions we rely a little bit on what the team can see because you don’t see what the others are doing with intermediates, with dry tyres,
“I’ve been asked questions if I wanted to go from the extreme wets to the slicks and I said, ‘yes but not now, a bit later on in the race’, but I don’t understand what made us change our minds and go on the intermediates.
Leclerc went on to explain how the team need to make the most whilst their “pace is strong”, after a race which “hurts a lot”.
“We got undercut then I stopped behind Carlos,” the Monegasque went on.
“There have been a lot of mistakes and we cannot afford to do that. It is hard as it has been in the other years here so I am getting used to it and getting back home feeling disappointed but we cannot do that, especially in a moment that we are in now.
“We are extremely strong now, the pace is strong, we need to take these opportunities, we cannot lose so many points like this, it is not even from first to second, it is from first to fourth, because after the first mistake we did another one.
“I love my team and I am sure we’ll come back stronger, it hurts a lot,”
Confusion and panic was clear over the Ferrari radio, with Leclerc screaming in anger when told not to pit, whilst already being in the pit-lane.
“I think the first one was a very clear decision and a very wrong one and from that moment onwards the mess started,” the Ferrari driver continued.
“I don’t know if it is panic, I don’t know, I obviously don’t hear all of the background radio messages in the team,” he continued. But this is not up to me to judge but obviously the message that I had was not clear and the last one wasn’t clear because I was told to come in and then stay out.
“But I was already in the pitlane so that’s when I let it all out all on the radio and screamed because I couldn’t do anything and I knew that I was done,” concluded Leclerc.
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto could understand the former championship leader’s anger.
Binotto told the media how the Italian team “underestimated” the intermediates’ performance.
“Certainly disappointing I think for the result,” he said after the race.
“I fully understand the disappointment for Charles as well, he was first and finishing fourth means that something was wrong in the decision we made.
“So clearly we need to review it and I think we underestimated the speed of the intermediate at that stage and so we could have called a lap earlier for Charles or later on, maybe we should have left him outside on the extreme wet then going on the dry,
“These are mistakes that may happen but more importantly it is a lesson to learn to try and understand why they happened and I am sure that is a process we will do it,” Binotto concluded.