Leclerc tries, 5 candidates -

Leclerc tries, 5 candidates -

Of Daniele Sparisci, sent to Montecarlo

Verstappen, Leclerc, Sainz, Perez and Alonso can take pole. Since 1986, in 35 editions out of 36, those who started from the first three positions have always won

“This time, the others have the opportunity. It's nice like this, it's very open. Ferrari is doing very well, Alonso too. They are not the usual qualifications. Whoever manages to come up with a tenth, whoever tackles a curve better can win. They are all attached." Felipe Massa, vice world champion with Ferrari — in search of justice after the revelations about the Singapore-gate of 2008 — sees it this way for the most important Saturday of the year (since 1986, in 35 editions out of 36, those who have always won started from the first three positions) while signing autographs and hugging friends.

READ HERE the chronicle of the free practice sessions

It is a reasoning supported by yesterday's data, because here the free practice sessions are not a bluff, they are really shooting. Verstappen and Leclerc divided by 65 thousandths, fourteen cars collected in less than a second. Perhaps there are even five candidates for pole: in addition to Max and Charles, Carlos Sainz who was very strong until the accident when leaving the swimming pools, "an error of judgment while I was looking for the limit". Fernando, fourth and optimistic: «I feel at ease». Perez, lost in traffic, but always very dangerous on city tracks (he won twelve months here, and this year in Jeddah and Baku).

There is a large group to give uncertainty about a season already in the hands of Red Bull, the real show is expected today. As is the tradition of the Principality, even if history is no longer enough even in these parts to ensure the future of the GP in the face of competition from the Middle East and the United States. Until 2025 the race is on the calendar, then who knows. It will be a long negotiation on the economic conditions. However, it is not a question of the last remaining accommodations: 14,000 euros for a couple of nights in a cabin on a boat in the port of Fontvieille (where cars do not pass), 18,000 for 24 hours in a studio flat in the centre. Among the buildings dotted with red flags with the inscription «Daghe Charles», «Forza Charles» in the Monegasque dialect. This time for number 16 it wasn't an easy start. Changes in set-up, a long search for the ideal combination that left doubts — "because the car still doesn't behave exactly as we would like" — but also hopes. In fact, a flash of kidneys was enough to get close to the summit, is Leclerc's specialty while waiting for the work on the Maranello simulator and the one on the track in today's free practice (1.00 pm) to complete the picture. «But as usual I will give everything: we don't have the best car, the Red Bull is faster and the Aston Martin is there. But I will always attack: pole position is possible».

In a complicated balancing act between feat and disaster, as demonstrated by the one conquered in 2021 (Charles was unable to even start due to the damage caused in his fast lap on Saturday), as Sainz's bang recalled yesterday. "I made a mistake and I apologize to the team and the mechanics, but we are there and we can fight for pole" replies the Spaniard.

The president has also arrived in Montecarlo John Elkann, a sign of proximity to the team? «But I would have liked to be able to go to Imola as well (the GP was canceled due to the flood ed), where our heart beats for all those people» he said before cutting short and taking the road to the pits. For the number one of Exor it was a day full of meetings, the one with Christian Horner, received in the hospitality of Ferrari, was not short. With Red Bull there are several open issues, starting with the case of Laurent Mekies
. The sporting director was announced by AlphaTauri without an agreement on the timing of the transfer. Ferrari has asked for technical compensation to speed up the practice. This too seems like a long negotiation.

May 26, 2023 (change May 26, 2023 | 22:50)

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