Leclerc a late withdrawal from home Monaco GP in huge blow to Ferrari

By Sports Desk May 23, 2021

Charles Leclerc's hopes of finally succeeding at his home grand prix were ended for another year in late, frustrating fashion at Monaco on Sunday.

Leclerc set the fastest time in qualifying but then crashed, cutting short the session to secure pole position yet leaving his Ferrari damaged.

The Scuderia tested Leclerc's gearbox on Saturday and again on Sunday, attempting to avoid a change that would mean giving up their place on the front row with a grid penalty.

The Monegasque star was cleared to take his position on pole less than three hours before the race, but Ferrari's determination not to replace the gearbox seemed to have proved costly.

A driveshaft issue was revealed when running the car, which meant Leclerc was unable to start the race, leaving his precious pole position vacant.

The problem was "impossible to fix in time for the start of the race", Ferrari said just 18 minutes before the scheduled start.

Max Verstappen had a clear run from second on the grid, as Leclerc rued another painful weekend at his home event.

His previous two Monaco appearances saw him fail to finish, although he completed enough of the 2018 grand prix to come 18th. At no other circuit has Leclerc had to retire twice.

The 23-year-old was denied the opportunity to surpass Louis Chiron's result as the best from a Monegasque driver at their home race. 

Chiron came third for Maserati in 1950, the first ever Formula One Monaco Grand Prix.

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  • Euro 2024 Data Dive: Late goals and broken records tee up dramatic finish to Group A Euro 2024 Data Dive: Late goals and broken records tee up dramatic finish to Group A

    Sunday's action at Euro 2024 saw the conclusion of Group A, with late drama ensuring a last-gasp shake up to the standings.

    Germany looked sure to be on the end of a shock defeat to Switzerland until substitute Niclas Fullkrug stepped up to make it 1-1 in stoppage time and send the hosts through as group winners.

    Meanwhile, Scotland crashed out of the tournament without a win after conceding the latest goal ever scored at the Euros, with Hungary keeping their hopes of knockout football alive with their 1-0 victory.

    Here, we run through all the best Opta stats to emerge from the day's matches.

    Switzerland 1-1 Germany: Neuer makes history, but Fullkrug grabs headlines

    Having already qualified for the last 16, the hosts left it late to seal top spot in the group, needing Fullkrug to make a much-needed impact off the bench in Frankfurt.

    Dan Ndoye had given Switzerland a first-half lead with his maiden international goal to become the nation's second-youngest goalscorer at the Euros (aged 23 years 242 days), but Switzerland could not hold on.

    Manuel Neuer was left helpless against the forward's first-time finish on his 18th appearance at the European Championships, the most among goalkeepers at the tournament (overtaking Gianluigi Buffon – 17). At major tournaments, only Cristiano Ronaldo (45) has played in more games than the Bayern Munich stopper (37).

    Julian Nagelsmann named the same starting XI for three consecutive games, the first time Germany have done so in the competition's history, though it looked like tiredness was starting to take its toll as they struggled to break down their opponents.

    Toni Kroos finished the game with a passing accuracy of 92.5%, only averaging lower than that in one game for Real Madrid in 2023-24), but also equalled a record in the late drama.

    Having completed 323 passes so far at Euro 2024, Kroos has made the joint-most on record (since 1980) by a player in the group stage since himself at Euro 2016 (also 323).

    Germany eventually had 18 shots, with Fullkrug picking out the top corner with the final one; the striker has scored 13 goals in just 19 international appearances, while his four as a substitute at major tournaments are more than any other European player.

    Despite ultimately losing out on top spot, Switzerland have now gone unbeaten in their last four games against Die Mannschaft (W1 D3), with no nation currently enjoying a longer unbeaten streak against Germany (England and Spain both have ongoing runs of four).

    Scotland 0-1 Hungary: Csoboth breaks Tartan Army's hearts

    Meanwhile in Stuttgart, it was Hungary celebrating a late strike to seal a 1-0 victory that ensured an early exit for Scotland as they chased what would have been a landmark win.

    Kevin Csoboth cemented his place in European Championship history with his counter-attacking finish as he netted the latest goal ever scored in the tournament's history (excluding extra time), timed at 99 minutes and 32 seconds.

    Despite needing a win to finish third, Scotland failed to have a single shot on target in the game. In total, the Tartan Army had just 17 shots at Euro 2024 – since the group stage was introduced in 1980, it is the joint-fewest by a national team, along with Northern Ireland at Euro 2016.

    Indeed, only twice at Euro 2024 has a team failed to manage a shot on target in the first half of a match and both have been Scotland (also on MD 1 against Germany).

    Scotland pushed numbers forward for their last-minute corner with the hopes of reaching the knockout stage of the Euros for the first time, but instead will leave a major tournament group stage without a win for the sixth time (1954, 1958, 1986 and 1998 World Cups and Euro 2020 and 2024).

    While looking down and out after failing to win either of their opening games, Hungary finally ended a run of eight games in the competition without a win, registering their first victory since beating Austria 2-0 at Euro 2016 – this was also their first clean sheet since that win.

  • Switzerland 1-1 Germany: Late Fullkrug leveller secures Group A top spot for hosts Switzerland 1-1 Germany: Late Fullkrug leveller secures Group A top spot for hosts

    Niclas Fullkrug proved the last-gasp hero as Germany avoided a shock upset to top Group A at Euro 2024 after snatching a 1-1 draw with Switzerland on Sunday.

    Dan Ndoye's first international goal seemed set to seal a famous win for Switzerland and ensure them top spot in Group A, but Germany's towering substitute stepped up in the dying seconds in Frankfurt.

    Ruben Vargas thought he had doubled Switzerland's advantage late on, only to be denied by the offside flag, and that decision proved pivotal when Fullkrug headed in his 92nd-minute leveller.

    That late intervention ensured Germany finished top of the group and will face second place in Group D in the last 16, while Switzerland's top-two finish sets up a meeting with the runners-up of Group B.

    The host nation started brightly once again and thought they had taken another early lead when Florian Wirtz teed up Robert Andrich, who squeezed his shot past Yann Sommer into the near post.

    However, the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder was denied his first international goal after a VAR check as Jamal Musiala was deemed to have fouled Michel Aebischer in the box during the build-up.

    Nagelsmann's team instead found themselves behind for the first time in the tournament just before the half-hour mark after Ndoye crashed Remo Freuler's whipped cross past the helpless Manuel Neuer.

    Just moments later, Ndoye offered Germany another scare, racing past Antonio Rudiger before fizzing an angled shot just wide of the far post. 

    Nagelsmann's half-time message was clear as Musiala looked to make it three goals in three games with a powerful hit from the edge of the box, but Sommer was equal to the attempt.

    Toni Kroos drilled a low shot wide under pressure before Kai Havertz glanced a header over the bar as Germany failed to find their clinical edge.

    Joshua Kimmich had the best chance to equalise from close range in the 71st minute, but an incredible last-ditch block by Manuel Akanji denied him.

    Vargas was left one-on-one with Neuer shortly after and slotted into the far corner, but the assistant referee was quick to flag for offside as Switzerland celebrations were short-lived.

    Havertz's looping header bounced off the crossbar as Germany sought a response, which arrived when Fullkrug made his impact off the bench, thumping a header home from David Raum's left-sided delivery.

    Neuer's record-breaking day salvaged by Fullkrug

    Neuer had already made history in their opening game at Euro 2024 as he became Germany's outright top appearance maker at major tournaments, surpassing Philipp Lahm.

    Now, on his 37th start for his country, only Cristiano Ronaldo (45) has played more games across the Euros and World Cup than him, while he has also made the most appearances among goalkeepers in the history of the competition (18, moving ahead of Gianluigi Buffon).

    The 38-year-old could not mark a special day with a win, though, as Germany's long wait for a comeback victory when trailing at half-time stretched to 11 matches in the competition (D2 L9).

    Their last such win came at Euro 1976 against Yugoslavia (2-0 down at half-time, won 4-2), but Neuer and Co. can at least celebrate top spot after late drama in Frankfurt.

    Ndoye steps into the spotlight

    Xherdan Shaqiri grabbed the headlines in Switzerland's 1-1 draw with Scotland last time out after scoring in a sixth consecutive major tournament, but with him on the bench on Sunday, the Red Crosses needed others to step up.

    In his 14th start for the national side, Ndoye netted for the first time, becoming Switzerland's second-youngest goalscorer in the history of the Euros at 23 years and 242 days, after Johan Vonlanthen against France in 2004 (18y 141d).

    Despite going off in the 65th minute, Ndoye had the most shots for Switzerland (two of their three), creating an expected goals tally of 0.52 as he proved their biggest threat.

    Though Switzerland will rue their late concession, they are now unbeaten in their last four meetings with Germany – a promising sign as the last-16 awaits.

  • Verstappen lauds rapid start as key to Spanish Grand Prix success Verstappen lauds rapid start as key to Spanish Grand Prix success

    Max Verstappen pinpointed a rapid start as the key to his fourth Spanish Grand Prix triumph on Sunday.

    The Red Bull driver secured his seventh Formula One victory of the 2024 season in Barcelona, but needed to hold off charges from McLaren's Lando Norris and seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.

    Verstappen started the race behind pole-sitting Norris but soon fell down to third after George Russell surged to the front into the first corner.

    Yet the Dutchman seized control after bursting past Russell a few laps later, referencing his early pursuit as pivotal to his seventh triumph in 10 races this campaign.

    "I think what made the race was the beginning, I took the lead [at the start of Lap 3], and that's where I had my buffer then in that first stint where I could eke out that gap a little bit," Verstappen said.

    "I think after that, we had to drive quite a defensive race. Lando and McLaren, they were very, very quick today, especially on degradation, it seems always the last few laps of the stint, they were very, very fast.

    "But then I think we did everything well, we drove quite, I think, an aggressive strategy, but luckily it paid out until the end – it was quite close until the end but very happy to win here."

    Pressed on those opening moments, Verstappen added: "I had to do a bit of rallying on the straight, I had to go onto the grass a bit, which lost me a bit of momentum, so then of course we braked quite late into Turn 1.

    "Then, of course, I was quite determined to try and get the lead. Once I was in the lead, I could look after my tyres a bit better, and that definitely made my race today."

    This victory extended Verstappen's championship lead to 69 points, with Norris now his nearest challenger and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc dropping back down to third.

    Considering this race success, Verstappen lauded his tyre-management ability.

    "It's just managing the tyres, they get very hot around here with all the high-speed corners, so you're sliding around actually quite a lot," he added.

    "It was just managing the race throughout."

    Verstappen will now prepare for the Austrian Grand Prix next Sunday.

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