Charles Leclerc wins Monaco Grand Prix to finally end home race curse

Charles Leclerc wins Monaco Grand Prix to finally end home race curse

Charles Leclerc is celebrating winning his home Monaco Grand Prix for the very first time.

Ferrari’s Monegasque driver was finally able to convert pole position into race success on the familiar streets of the sunny Principality at the third of asking, having previously failed to do so in high-profile and galling fashion in both 2021 and 2022.

Such a triumph saw Leclerc cut reigning world champion Max Verstappen’s championship lead down to 31 points with 16 races still to go in 2024.

"No words can explain that,” an emotional Leclerc told Sky Sports before receiving his trophy on the podium from Albert II, Prince of Monaco.

“It's such a difficult race. I think the fact twice I've been starting on pole position and we couldn't quite make it makes it even better in a way.

"It means a lot, obviously. It's the race which made me dream of becoming a Formula One driver one day.

"15 laps to the end you're hoping nothing happens and the emotions are coming.

"My dad has given everything for me to be here and it was a dream of ours for me to race here and win here, so it's unbelievable."

Sergio Perez’s Red Bull was left wrecked by a massive first-lap crash involving both Haas cars (Getty Images)
Sergio Perez’s Red Bull was left wrecked by a massive first-lap crash involving both Haas cars (Getty Images)

Leclerc led for the entirety of Sunday’s race in Monte Carlo, getting an initial great start from McLaren’s Oscar Piastri before then keeping his position at the front for the whole way following a restart that followed a lengthy delay caused by a massive first-lap crash involving Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and the Haas duo of Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg.

All three cars were eliminated as the Red Bull sustained extremely heavy damage to leave lots of debris strewn all over the track, with no further action taken by the race stewards following a long stoppage as crucial repairs were carried out to the safety barrier.

A dramatic first lap also saw Esteban Ocon collide with Alpine team-mate Pierre Gasly during a risky move at Turn Eight, with Ocon subsequently offering an apology on social media as he incurred the wrath of team boss Bruno Famin.

Ocon was also ruled out of the race with damage inflicted when his car was raised into the air and landed heavily back down on the track, meaning he could not serve a 10-second time penalty subsequently handed down by the stewards.

Instead, his punishment for causing the incident was commuted to next month’s Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, where the Frenchman will face a five-place grid penalty instead.

The race eventually got back underway from a standing start after that first-lap drama, with the decision to revert back to the original order due to a lack of progress made providing a boost for Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, whose race had otherwise been threatened by an immediate puncture suffered during a first-corner tussle with Piastri.

Piastri also sustained damage to the floor of his McLaren, but was able to go on and claim second place and a first podium of the campaign in a race that quickly evolved into an intriguing battle of tyre tactics and strategy after such a chaotic opening, behind Leclerc and in front of Sainz.

Piastri’s team-mate Lando Norris followed up an impressive couple of races in Miami and Imola by taking P4 in Monaco, with George Russell crossing the finish line in fifth for Mercedes ahead of Verstappen, who was not able to make up any places to compound a truly miserable week for Red Bull.

Lewis Hamilton was seventh for the Silver Arrows, with the top 10 rounded off by Yuki Tsunoda, Alex Albon and Gasly, the latter pair claiming their first points of the 2024 season.