Leclerc wins home Monaco GP after heavy Perez crash

Monaco GP
Charles Leclerc won his home race for the first time [Getty Images]

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc held his nerve to convert pole position at his home Monaco Grand Prix into a controlled victory after a huge first-lap pile-up.

A collision between the two Haas cars and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez caused a red flag and led to a race of extreme tyre management by the leaders.

Leclerc controlled McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, team-mate Carlos Sainz and McLaren’s Lando Norris all race without any of them making a pit stop to take Ferrari’s second win of 2024.

The final laps were enlivened by a battle between Mercedes’ George Russell and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, in which the Briton managed to hold out despite having tyres that were more than 50 laps older than Verstappen’s.

Verstappen had stopped for fresh tyres with 26 laps to go and quickly caught Russell, but despite the huge grip advantage was unable to pass.

Lewis Hamilton, who had stopped for fresh tyres a lap before Verstappen, took seventh place just behind his 2021 title rival.

Leclerc’s win was a story of redemption for the 26-year-old, who twice before had taken pole position at Monaco only for the win to slip through his fingers.

This time, neither team nor driver made a mistake after Leclerc’s blistering pace had had secured pole, before Ferrari planned a race centred on managing from the front.

The top four had started on medium tyres, while Russell, Verstappen and Hamilton behind them were on the hards.

But the red flag - which was caused when Kevin Magnussen’s front left tyre tagged Perez’s right rear, spinning the Red Bull around, the pair also collecting Nico Hulkenberg - turned the race around.

Firstly, it allowed Sainz to rejoin the race in his original third-place grid position after a collision with Piastri at the first corner had caused a puncture which led to him going straight on at Casino Square.

And it allowed Ferrari and McLaren to switch their cars to hard tyres while the barriers were repaired, with the expectation that they would run and run and perhaps have to get to the end if there were no more safety cars.

That meant taking the tyres about 15 laps further than Pirelli had predicted they would last, but Leclerc and his pursuers were more than capable of making them last by virtue of careful driving and controlling their pace.

The teams spent the race looking at gaps to rivals and wondering about pit-stop windows but the remainder of the grand prix passed without major incident and going to the end was what they were forced to do.

In the closing laps, Leclerc underlined his domination of the weekend by stretching out his lead and he crossed the line seven seconds ahead of Piastri.

If the race for the win was sufficient a demonstration of the difficulty of passing at Monaco, Verstappen put it in even starker perspective after rocketing up to Russell’s tail in the closing laps, before being unable to make any progress.

Verstappen’s sixth place combined with Leclerc’s win cut the Dutchman’s championship lead to 31 points after seven of 24 races, but both men had already emphasised on Saturday that the championship was long and no conclusions should be drawn at this early stage.

RB’s Yuki Tsunoda, Williams’ Alex Albon and Alpine’s Pierre Gasly completed the top 10 and took the final points, even though Gasly’s car had to be repaired in the red-flag period after a collision with team-mate Esteban Ocon at Portier.

Ocon was penalised 10 seconds for causing the collision, which will be converted into a five-place grid penalty at the next race in Canada.

No blame was attributed by the stewards for the Magnussen-Perez-Hulkenberg collision.

Perez's wrecked car at Monaco
A huge crash for Sergio Perez on the first lap caused the race to be red-flagged [Getty Images]
Monaco GP
Cars weave around the harbour in Monte Carlo [Getty Images]
Trent Alexander-Arnold
Heidi Klum
As was Model Heidi Klum [Getty Images]
Tommy Hilfiger and wife Dee
And even designer Tommy Hilfiger decked out in Mercedes' gear [Getty Images]