Leclerc breaks Monaco F1 curse to take emotional home win

Monegasque Formula One driver Charles Leclerc of Ferrari pictured during the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco. Beata Zawrzel/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa

Charles Leclerc of Ferrari led from start to finish to claim an emotional maiden win at his home Formula One Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday.

"No words can explain this. I think because twice I started from pole and couldn't make it, it means more in a way. It was a race that made me dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver," Leclerc said.

The Monegasque had a clear start to hold on to his lead and did the same in the restart following a 45-minute interruption after a huge crash involving Sergio Perez of Red Bull and the two Haas of Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hülkenberg in the first lap.

Oscar Piastri of McLaren and Carlos Sainz in the other Ferrari completed the top three.

The race was all about tyre management after most drivers had a virtual no-stop strategy after changing tyres during the red flag.

"In the last 15 laps, the emotions were coming - I was thinking of my dad, he gave everything to get me here. It was a dream of his for me to race here and to win, so this is unbelievable," Leclerc said of his father, who passed away in 2017.

The Monaco curse

Monaco hadn't been so far a happy hunting ground for Leclerc, with many saying he built up something of a curse at his home race, and his setbacks date back to his time in Formula Two, when he lost a feature race win due to a loose wheel in 2017.

In 2018, in his first F1 Monaco Grand Prix, Leclerc was taken out of the race going into the Nouvelle Chicane as Brendon Hartley of then Toro Rosso hit the back of him, and a year later, he was eliminated in the first part of qualifying and retired in the race due to contact with the wall at Rascasse.

Most recently he failed to convert pole positions in 2021 and 2022 into a win or even a podium. He missed the 2021 event owing to a driveshaft failure just before the race and had to settle for fourth in 2022 after a poor pit stop.

Sainz happy to share podium with Leclerc

Sainz spent the race trying to overtake Piastri but eventually had to settle for third. Still, he said he was happy to share this special moment with team-mate Leclerc.

"I'm extremely happy to see Charles win his home Grand Prix and getting to share it with him. Maybe I had a chance to put pressure on Oscar to get him to do a mistake, we got him under pressure but it was not enough to pass," he said.

Piastri said: "To be honest, Charles has been mega all weekend, it would have taken something very special in qualifying to out-do him, probably the best lap of my life."

The qualifying session in Monaco is one of the most important of the season. In the narrow street circuit, where overtaking is very difficult, a first place in qualifying usually also means a first place in the race.

Perez walks away unharmed from horrific crash

Perez will be relieved to have walked away unharmed from a horrific crash at the Monaco GP.

The Mexican driver, who started 16th, was involved in a huge accident with the two Haas cars of Magnussen and Hülkenberg immediately after the start of the race.

His Red Bull spun after being clipped by Magnussen and both were fired hard into the wall before banging back into Hülkenberg, who had nowhere to go. All drivers walked away unharmed.

Perez's car, meanwhile, was completely destroyed after the impact.

"I just got pushed into the wall and made contact with him. I trusted he was going to leave a space for me since I was there," Magnussen told broadcasters Sky Sport.

"You have to have a car width otherwise you leave the guy no option. It is unfortunate, a lot of cost for the team, a lot of work for the guys and a missed opportunity today."

Champion Max Verstappen only sixth

Champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull finished where he started, in sixth, after a bad qualifying session on Saturday. He still tops the drivers' championship ahead of Leclerc.

The Dutchman was behind Lando Norris in the other McLaren and the Mercedes of George Russell in fourth and fifth respectively.

F1 now heads to Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix on June 9

Monegasque Formula One driver Charles Leclerc of Ferrari in action during the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco. Beata Zawrzel/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
Monegasque Formula One driver Charles Leclerc of Ferrari in action during the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco. Beata Zawrzel/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa