Charles Leclerc claims ‘no mistakes’ as Ferrari chase home victory from pole

Charles Leclerc claims ‘no mistakes’ as Ferrari chase home victory from pole

Charles Leclerc claims ‘no mistakes’ as Ferrari chase home victory from pole

Charles Leclerc has urged Ferrari to end their run of mistakes and help him turn pole position to victory in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.

Leclerc sent Monza wild as he saw off Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to take the switch over a lap. Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton came next.

But Verstappen, Sainz, Perez and Hamilton will all be sent down the grid for exceeding their allocated number of engine parts.

That means George Russell, who finished sixth, will join Leclerc on the front row. Lando Norris qualified seventh but is set to start third in his McLaren when the grid penalties are applied.

Verstappen is on course to secure his second world title in as many seasons after winning the last four races, and 10 of the 15 rounds completed so far.

But Leclerc, 109 points behind the Red Bull driver, will be out to restore pride in a season where Ferrari – through human and machine error – has failed to deliver on its early promise.

After the final round at Zandvoort a week ago, 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg said fundamental changes needed to be made at Ferrari after Carlos Sainz was farcically greeted by just three tires when he arrived at a pit stop.

Ferrari rushes to find a fourth tire for Carlos Sainz during the Dutch Grand Prix

Ferrari rushes to find a fourth tire for Carlos Sainz during the Dutch Grand Prix (Christian Bruna/AP)

The presence of Ferrari boss John Elkann, Italian president Sergio Mattarella and 125,000 expectant fans will only increase the pressure on the team from Maranello.

And Elkann did not mince words in a Gazzetta dello Sport interview on the eve of Ferrari’s home run.

“There is no doubt that the work in Maranello, in the garage, on the pit wall and at the wheel needs to be improved,” he said.

“We have to keep making progress, and that goes for the mechanics, the engineers, the drivers and of course the whole management team, including team principal Mattia Binotto.

“We have seen that there are still too many mistakes when it comes to reliability, drive and strategy. I’m not satisfied because I think we can always do better.”

Charles Leclerc, right, and Max Verstappen, left

Charles Leclerc, right, beat Max Verstappen, left, to pole (David Davies/PA)

Leclerc, 24, is the man Ferrari hopes will end a championship drought that stretches back to 2007.

And while he has no hope of catching Verstappen this term, Leclerc’s pole lap and the world champion’s grid penalty at least gives him a shot at victory in Ferrari’s backyard for Monza’s 100th anniversary.

“We have to finish this tomorrow, otherwise it’s pointless to get pole,” said Leclerc. “After every mistake we’ve learned from them and we’re trying to get better as a team.

“It is not because we are here in Monza that it is more important than other races not to make mistakes. We have to become a team that doesn’t make mistakes wherever we go.

“It’s a special weekend for us, but the goal doesn’t change. We just need to have a clean run and a good run.”

A minute’s silence was observed ahead of practice on Friday, and another was to be observed on the grid in the moments before Sunday’s race.

Hamilton’s yellow 44 on the side of his Mercedes has been turned black in honor of the Queen, with a flurry of tributes up and down the paddock for the long-serving monarch.

Hamilton will line up from the back after donning his fourth power unit of the season – one more than he is allowed.

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