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Charles Leclerc Finally Reigns at Home in Monaco

Charles Leclerc (16) lifted up by his Scuderia Ferrari team after winning the 2024 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix (Source: Scuderia Ferrari)

Charles Leclerc (16) lifted up by his Scuderia Ferrari team after winning the 2024 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix (Source: Scuderia Ferrari)

MONACO – Showing pace in opening practice sessions and claiming a brilliant pole position in qualifying, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was on the precipice of finally breaking through and claiming victory on his home streets. Having won pole position twice before, the Ferrari driver was hoping for three times was a charm on the streets of Monte Carlo for the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix.

As the cars lined up on the grid pre-race, the most significant change from qualifying to the grid was that both Haas cars would start from the rear after both cars had been disqualified after the post-qualifying technical inspection, disallowing their times and sending them to the rear of the field.

In the closing minutes before the lights went out, crew members finally removed the tire blankets to give a glimpse of the tire strategy on a sunny yet warm afternoon. A seemingly equal split between teams would pick between the Medium compound tires and the Hard compound tires in what was expected to be a one-stop race.

Leclerc led the field for the lone formation lap as the front stretch cleared before slotting back in his grid spot. As the final grouping of cars made their way to their spots, anticipation built before the lights went out, and Leclerc led the way on the tight streets of Monte Carlo.

Leclerc had gotten out to a clean start, while his teammate Carlos Sainz had gotten alongside Oscar Piastri’s McLaren and had a moment of contact in Sainte Devote, causing a puncture in Sainz’s Ferrari. However, further back, even more chaos was unfolding. 

As the cars made their way through the first turn, the pair of Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg were attempting to make up ground after their qualifying disqualification. Getting alongside an out-of-place Red Bull of Sergio Perez, calamity struck as two cars tried to go into a space only designed for a singular car, sending Perez sliding around, hitting the barriers, and collecting the other Haas of Hulkenberg.

As the trio of cars slid to a stop, with the Red Bull taking the brunt of the damage, race control issued the red flag, stopping the race as three cars would have to be lifted into the sky and debris would need to be cleared. It was an interesting moment as Magnussen had recently reached 10 penalty points due to Miami, and with two more, he could be facing a race ban. However, it was deemed a racing incident after an investigation.

Further up the grid, both Alpines had gotten into one another before going into the tunnel as Esteban Ocon tried to pass through Portier before bouncing up and over Pierre Gasly’s car and landing back on all four wheels. This action was also investigated, and Ocon was handed a five-place grid penalty for Canada. However, the Alpine team might take further action.

The excellent news for Sainz was that with the red flag, he could hobble his Ferrari back to the pit lane and get it repaired. He could retain where he had started as race control finalized the running order for the eventual race restart.

With the clean-up almost completed and any barrier repairs made, the stewards announced an upcoming standing restart that would have the field line up as they had begun, just without the Haas pair, Perez and Ocon, for the remaining 76 laps. Due to Formula 1’s red flag rules, teams took the chance to make their mandatory tire change, basically sealing that some teams would be finishing on the same tires for a much longer stint than anticipated.

Leclerc led the field back around for the restart. When the lights went back out, a much cleaner getaway occurred as teams attempted to make up as much ground as possible before the field would get settled into their spots due to how the nature of the track did not indeed promote the ability to pass.

Race winner Charles Leclerc (16) stands up the top of the Monaco Grand Prix podium along with McLaren driver Oscar Piastri (81) and Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz (55) following the 2024 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix (Source: Scuderia Ferrari)

Race winner Charles Leclerc (16) stands up at the top of the Monaco Grand Prix podium along with McLaren driver Oscar Piastri (81) and Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz (55) following the 2024 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix (Source: Scuderia Ferrari)

Almost immediately, George Russell had his Mercedes at the rear wing of Lando Norris’ McLaren, trying to see if he could gain any positions. However, after a call from the pit wall and lamenting that it would be his only chance to pass Norris, Russell fell back to attempt to sustain his Medium compound tires through the rest of the race.

Up front, Oscar Piastri had his McLaren right up against Leclerc, but with Sainz coming at him, he had to play both offense and defense at the same time while Norris had dispatched Russell and was joining in the battle for the lead. 

On lap 16, Kick Sauber called in Valtteri Bottas in hopes fresher tires would give him a decent chance to make up ground in what would be a rarity during this Grand Prix: a green flag pit stop.

As the field started to settle in, with some fears of graining on tires due to the expected long run to the finish, Leclerc had begun to back up the leading group so Norris could not get a free stop ahead of Russell. In the backfield, Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin was starting to do the same thing to open up a gap so his teammate, Lance Stroll, could get a pit stop without losing a position.

Lapped traffic soon came into play for the first time of the Grand Prix as Leclerc started to make his way through the back of the grid while holding off Piastri, Sainz and Norris for position, making quick work of the lapped cars. Meanwhile, thanks to his teammate’s work, Stroll could slip down pit lane and return to the track in the same position he had left.

While Leclerc was trying to figure out from his team if he could open up the pace more, Stroll’s pit stop was all for naught. He clipped the barriers, punctured a tire, and was sent back down the pits again. Meanwhile, another gap was growing between the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and the Visa Cash App RB of Yuki Tsunoda. 

With the gap opened far enough, Hamilton went down pit lane for a fresh set of tires. A lap later, Red Bull called down a seemingly bored Max Verstappen so he could hopefully overtake Russell. Hamilton and Verstappen started to put in the fastest laps.

Verstappen quickly closed in on the Mercedes up ahead, but Russell responded in kind. He was closing the gap to the Top 4, taking away any chance any of the leaders could take a possible pit stop. However, fresh tires would not help Verstappen, as he was forced to back off from his charge on Russell, settling him between the Mercedes pair. 

Charles Leclerc (16) dives into the bay in Monte Carlo along with Team Principal Fred Vasseur after winning the 2024 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix (Source: Scuderia Ferrari)

Charles Leclerc (16) dives into the bay in Monte Carlo along with Team Principal Fred Vasseur after winning the 2024 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix (Source: Scuderia Ferrari)

In the closing laps, Leclerc started to build a lead, making it increasingly likely that the kid who grew up in Monaco and had come tantalizing close to claiming victory two times before would finally make his childhood dreams come true. Finally, the checkered flag flew, and what had felt like a curse was finally broken as Charles Leclerc claimed victory in the Monaco Grand Prix in emotional passing, 10 years and one day after his childhood friend and godfather Jules Bianchi had claimed his maiden points in Formula 1 on those same streets.

Behind Leclerc came Oscar Piastri and Carlos Sainz, with Norris and Russell closing out the top five. Verstappen came home ahead of Hamilton in sixth and seventh. At the same time, solid runs for Tsunoda, the Williams driver of Alex Albon and the Alpine of Gasly closed out the points-paying positions. The latter two claimed their first points of the year and the first constructors’ points for Willaims in 2024.

Alonso finished just outside the points in 11th, a far cry from second place a year ago, ahead of the Visa Cash App RB of Daniel Riccardo, Bottas, Stroll, Williams of Logan Sargeant and the Kick Sauber of Zhou Guanyu closing out the runners at the finish. Ocon, Perez and Haas drivers of Magnussen and Hulkenberg failed to finish the race after the Lap 1 incidents.

Formula 1 now prepares to head to Canada, where Charles Leclerc hopes to retain his momentum as he looks to close in on what seems like a stumbling Red Bull team and Max Verstappen.

Finish Start Car No. Driver Team Gap (in seconds) Points
1 1 16 Charles Leclerc Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT Leader 25
2 2 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes 7.152 18
3 3 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 7.585 15
4 4 4 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 8.65 12
5 5 63 George Russell Ferrari 13.309 10
6 6 1 Max Verstappen Mercedes 13.853 8
7 7 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 14.908 7
8 8 22 Yuki Tsunoda Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT 1 Lap 4
9 9 23 Alex Albon Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 1 Lap 2
10 10 10 Pierre Gasly RB Honda RBPT 1 Lap 1
11 14 14 Fernando Alonso Haas Ferrari 2 Laps 0
12 12 3 Daniel Ricciardo Haas Ferrari 2 Laps 0
13 17 77 Valtteri Bottas RB Honda RBPT 2 Laps 0
14 13 18 Lance Stroll Alpine Renault 2 Laps 0
15 15 2 Logan Sargeant Kick Sauber 2 Laps 0
16 18 24 Zhou Guanyu Alpine Renault 2 Laps 0
17 11 31 Esteban Ocon Williams Mercedes DNF 0
18 16 11 Sergio Perez Kick Sauber DNF 0
19 19 27 Nico Hulkenberg Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes DNF 0
20 20 20 Kevin Magnussen Williams Mercedes DNF 0

John Arndt is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a degree of communications who has been a life-long fan of NASCAR and motorsports. John is a member of The Podium Finish's photography team based in Texas and his home track is Circuit of the Americas. With a love of multiple racing series, he has started to write about Formula 1 and sports car racing to help expand the reach of The Podium Finish.

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