Charles Leclerc finally realises Monaco destiny after massive Sergio Perez crash

Under the blazing Mediterranean sunshine and crisp blue skies on this most prestigious of racing Sundays, this famed principality’s prodigal son finally realised his day of days. Charles Leclerc’s procession started long before the chequered flag; in fact, from lap one’s crash chaos and red flag, this grand prix victory could hardly have been simpler. No pit stops. No incidents. No Ferrari meltdown.

The curse is well and truly over.

Of course, by the curse, we mean that Leclerc – the Monegasque star who has never claimed a podium at his home race, let alone a win – had been here before. Pole positions in 2021 and 2022 were butchered by a drive shaft issue and strategy blunder but 2024 felt like his year from practice on Friday. Armed with the quickest car, Leclerc has been rapid all weekend and this victory felt somewhat pencilled in after he topped qualifying, in impressive fashion, on Saturday.

On race day, a dramatic first-lap pile-up at the back involving Sergio Perez and the Haas pairing of Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg triggered an early stoppage. It allowed the whole field to fulfil their mandatory pit stop, with the front four all switching to the long-lasting hard tyre. And, despite seeing second-placed Oscar Piastri in his wing mirrors throughout most of the remaining 77 laps, nobody was taking this triumph away from Leclerc on this occasion.

It has been 93 years since Monaco’s most famous day basked in the sweetness and satisfaction of a homegrown winner. That goes back to pre-Formula 1 days and Louis Chiron – a dancer turned driver in between the two world wars – carried that honour for so long.

Now though, Leclerc stood grandly in the middle of the royal box with Monaco’s national anthem, Hymne Monegasque, belting out. He received the first place trophy from Albert II, Prince of Monaco, who himself then sprayed Leclerc with champagne. This was a moment not just for Leclerc, but for every citizen of the world’s second-smallest country.

The 26-year-old was emotional, uncharacteristically so, on his team radio on his victory lap. His first win in 22 months comes on the streets of Monte Carlo where he grew up, dreaming of such a day. It is, unquestionably after six years, his proudest day in Formula 1.

“I think [because of the] twice that I’ve started on pole position and couldn’t make it makes it better of course,” he said afterwards. “It was a difficult race emotionally. I was thinking of my dad [who died in 2017] a lot more when I was driving, he was giving everything for me to be here. It was a dream of ours.”

Charles Leclerc celebrates winning his home race in Monaco (Getty Images)
Charles Leclerc celebrates winning his home race in Monaco (Getty Images)
Sergio Perez’s Red Bull was smashed up after a first-lap collision (Getty Images)
Sergio Perez’s Red Bull was smashed up after a first-lap collision (Getty Images)


1. Charles Leclerc

2. Oscar Piastri

3. Carlos Sainz

4. Lando Norris

5. George Russell

6. Max Verstappen

7. Lewis Hamilton

8. Yuki Tsunoda

9. Alex Albon

10. Pierre Gasly

Overtakes at the start heading into turn one Sainte-Devote are not common and so it proved here. Leclerc got off the start line comfortably, taking the inside line to swoop into a lead he held for the next two and a half hours. Piastri got his elbows out to fend off Carlos Sainz in third, who sustained damage to his tyre and crashed lightly at the top of the hill. He saved his race, however, as he navigated his way back to the pits.

But the real drama occurred at the back of the pack. Magnussen – one incident away from a race ban which may now come his way for the next race – thought he saw a gap on the right steaming up the hill. He didn’t. Perez, who only has himself to blame after qualifying a dismal 18th on Saturday, had his rear right wheel clipped and was left spinning and smashing into the barrier, collecting Magnussen and Hulkenberg with him.

His wheels flew off onto the pavement and his car was completely smashed. All three drivers escaped unharmed but with the circuit covered in debris, the stewards threw red. The race was suspended for just over 30 minutes and Sainz’s third place was restored, as was the starting order.

It is a peculiarity of the F1 rulebook that a red flag allows drivers to change tyres and, here, it rendered the rest of the race largely irrelevant. Once Leclerc got off the line smoothly again, he kept his cool and composure despite Piastri’s presence on his gearbox.

It is near impossible to overtake at Monaco and this year confirmed it: for the remaining 77 laps after the red flag, there was not one overtake in the top 10 and for the first time in F1’s 74-year history, the top 10 did not alter from the starting grid to the finish line. In an era where F1’s American owners want the sporting spectacle to be as engrossing as possible, it may well be something the old-fashioned Automobile Club de Monaco has to rectify.

As for Leclerc, who occupied the podium with teammate Sainz on a brilliant day for Ferrari, he has made up some crucial ground this season too. The gap to championship leader Max Verstappen – finishing in sixth, his worst position since November 2022 – has been cut from 48 points to 31 points. Beyond the parties aboard the yachts in the harbour tonight, as F1 heads to Canada in a fortnight’s time with two-thirds of the season remaining, maybe we do have a title race on our hands after all.