Leclerc topped both of the opening two sessions in the principality, spearheading a Scuderia one-two in FP2.
Just 0.044 secs separated the two drivers, with Red Bull pair Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen third and fourth quickest but considerably off the pace as they both finished around four-tenths of a second back
“It was great to see so many people around the track today, considering that it is only Friday,” said home hero Leclerc whose best lap was a one minute 12.656secs.
“It really makes me look forward to the next two days and hopefully we can give our Tifosi a good result.
“We had consistent running and completed a good number of laps.
“We still have to fine-tune the balance but, all in all, it wasn’t too bad and we just need to make the usual step from Friday to Saturday now.”
Ferrari seek “perfect balance”
The single-lap pace of Ferrari has never been in doubt this year and given the extreme difficulty in overtaking around Monaco, a front-row lockout would put the team in a strong position to retake a championship lead they lost on Sunday in Spain.
“[It was] an encouraging day after completing our programme and performing well on track,” explained Sainz.
“Monaco is always a demanding track, but also a very exciting and fun circuit to push the car.
“Qualifying will be tight tomorrow by the looks of today, but so far we’re happy with the job we’ve done and the way we’ve been improving every time we went out on track.
“Now it’s all about the small details and finding the perfect balance for qualifying.”