Leclerc ends jinx with dream home win at Monaco Grand Prix

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (centre) celebrates on the podium after winning the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday. (AP pic)

MONACO: Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc celebrated a dream Monaco Grand Prix victory on Sunday to become the first home winner of Formula 1’s showcase race since Louis Chiron raced around the city streets in 1931.

It was the first time the 26-year-old had stood on the Monaco podium in six attempts and came after two standing starts from pole position in a race halted when first-lap collisions took out a fifth of the field.

McLaren’s Oscar Piastri finished runner-up, 7.1s behind after 78 laps without a chance to overtake on a circuit that often produces processional races, and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was third.

“It means a lot,” said Leclerc, who screamed over the radio as he took a chequered flag waved by France forward Kylian Mbappe while the crowd erupted and Prince Albert gave a royal thumbs up.

“It’s the race that made me dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver one day.”

Red Bull’s championship leader and 2023 Monaco winner Max Verstappen started and finished sixth, only the third time in eight races this season that the triple world champion has been beaten.

McLaren’s Lando Norris was fourth and George Russell fifth for Mercedes.

Leclerc’s success, and first win since the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix, trimmed Verstappen’s championship lead to 31 points from 48.

Leclerc had twice before started from pole in Monaco, in 2021 and 2022, but failed to convert the huge advantage into a top-three finish on streets he has known all his life.

On a sunny afternoon, and with the weight of expectation heavier than ever, he finally got to live the dream.

“Tonight is going to be a big night,” he told his team on the cooling-down lap.

“No words can explain that,” he added later. “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.”


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