Ferrari's Charles Leclerc wins home F1 race in Monaco, breaking the 'curse'

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc won the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday with a flawless lights-to-flag victory, securing one of the most coveted trophies in Formula 1 for the first time in his career.

It was a poignant triumph for Leclerc, who grew up on the streets of Monaco and has fallen short of winning his home race so many times, due to a mix of misfortune and mistakes, that F1 commentators had dubbed it the Leclerc “curse.”

“Yes! Yes! Yes!” Leclerc exclaimed to his team after taking the checkered flag. “F---ing finally!”

Finishing behind Leclerc were McLaren's Oscar Piastri in second place, Ferrari's Carlos Sainz in third place and McLaren's Lando Norris in fourth place.

Leclerc had the speed over his rivals for most of the weekend and qualified on pole position Saturday, ahead of a street race where overtaking is notoriously difficult. He controlled the pace Sunday and the lead was never seriously challenged in the Grand Prix.

With fewer than five laps to go, Leclerc had built a lead and could taste victory, telling his team on the radio, “I’ll just bring it home.”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, the defending triple world champion, finished sixth after struggling with the handling of his car all weekend and qualifying sixth. Verstappen still leads the 2024 world championship with 169 points, but Leclerc has narrowed the gap at 138 points with plenty of races remaining this season.

Formula One Monaco Grand Prix. (Andrej Isakovic / AFP - Getty Images)
Formula One Monaco Grand Prix. (Andrej Isakovic / AFP - Getty Images)

It was Leclerc’s first F1 race victory in nearly two years, when he won the Austrian Grand Prix in 2022. The Monegasque driver signed a contract extension with Ferrari earlier this year and will be joined next season by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

The now-broken Leclerc home “curse” included two previous Monaco F1 pole positions that he failed to convert into wins — one in 2021, when a gearbox failure caused by a qualifying crash meant he failed to start the race, and one in 2022, when a strategy error by Ferrari sent him tumbling down the order.

“No words can explain that,” Leclerc said on the ESPN broadcast after parking his car, adding that it means more after his near misses. “It’s such a difficult race. … It means a lot obviously. It’s the race that made me dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver one day.”

The Monaco Grand Prix marked three races in a row where Verstappen’s dominance was challenged. Earlier this month he lost the Miami Grand Prix to Norris, and held off a charging Norris to win the subsequent race in Italy by less than 1 second.

The race was initially red flagged after a crash-filled start that included a three-car incident on the opening lap, putting Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg out of the race. It restarted after officials cleaned up the debris on the track and was accident-free on the second attempt.

Also on the first lap, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon damaged his car and was forced to retire after attempting an aggressive move on his teammate Pierre Gasly and making contact, before Gasly criticized Ocon for it on team radio.

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