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How Leclerc finally broke his 'Monaco curse'

By Jim K 06/01/2024
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Charles Leclerc at 2024 Monaco GP

Image: Scuderia Ferrari

Formula One celebrated its second wholesome victory in a month as Charles Leclerc took his Ferrari from pole position to a famous win at the 2024 Monaco GP. With Lando Norris taking a long-overdue top-step visit in Miami three weeks earlier, Leclerc's triumph reinforced how close and competitive the 2024 season is. Sitting P2 in the World Drivers' Championship standings after his Monte Carlo masterclass, the result might also represent the turning point of Leclerc's career.

Even in the present, Monaco was a watershed moment, not just for Leclerc but for Ferrari, too. For Leclerc, it's the realization of an emotional dream. He dedicated the win to his late father and godfather, Herve Leclerc and Jules Bianchi, who he dearly would've wished to have had there watching him. Leclerc lied to his father days before his death that he had signed an F1 contract, and Monaco represented the only race where Bianchi scored a top-10 in the sport. Winning in Monte Carlo meant everything.

Charles Leclerc at 2024 Monaco GP

Image: Scuderia Ferrari

From a Ferrari perspective, it's a giant leap forward to show that Team Principal Frederic Vasseur is stabilizing the ship. There were no strategic errors from the Scuderia, and they provided their drivers with a car fast enough for P1 and P3 qualifications at the circuit where it matters most.

Leclerc's pole was the first in 2024 not taken by Max Verstappen, whose dominant days look doomed. Ferrari became the only team on the grid to have both drivers as race winners in 2024, and with Lewis Hamilton joining for 2025, they seem on their best trajectory in recent memory.

It seems poetic that Leclerc's first 2024 win came at Monaco, with his home race bringing disappointment and frustration for much of his career. Whether you attribute previous problems to pressure, strategic blunders, or bad luck, it did seem that a curse surrounded Leclerc at his home Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc at 2024 Monaco GP

Image: Scuderia Ferrari

Before his Formula One career started, Leclerc couldn't become the home hero. 2017 saw him storm to pole position in Formula 2 by nearly a quarter of a second, and he subsequently led the race from his P1 start. A botched pit stop led to a broken suspension and forced him to retire. Even the reverse grid race saw an electrical failure from down the order, yet this wouldn't be the only weekend his team let the Monegasque driver down.

Leclerc's first race in Monaco as a Formula 1 driver in 2018 was with the midfield Sauber team, and he impressively reached Q2 on Saturday. Despite a valiant effort, his Sunday ended prematurely due to brake failure, and it became the first time Leclerc failed to reach the chequered flag in his early F1 career.

Although the 2018 Monaco GP ended in disappointment, Leclerc's career took a sizeable step forward for 2019, with Ferrari seeing enough in the youngster to promote him to partner Sebastian Vettel. He had a far more potent car, with which he hoped to fight at the front, especially heading into his home race with P5 as his worst finish.

Charles Leclerc at 2024 Monaco GP

Image: Scuderia Ferrari

Yet he qualified worse than when at Sauber after Ferrari opted not to send him out for a second Q1 run, mistakenly believing his time would break him into Q2. Driving angry in the race led to Leclerc hitting the barrier when attempting to overtake, and the damage eventually forced his retirement.

It seemed that 2021 would, at last, be the year to make amends for previous heartbreak. Leclerc delighted his home fans on the Grand Prix's post-COVID return by taking a brilliant pole position in a season otherwise dominated by Red Bull and Mercedes.

Charles Leclerc at 2024 Monaco GP

Image: Scuderia Ferrari

Unwavered, Leclerc led from pole position and was looking set for victory, some five seconds ahead of P2. Ferrari mistakenly instructed him to pit, then told him to 'stay out' after he had committed to pitting. This resulted in another missed opportunity to win in Monaco as he fell to P4.

Leclerc's 2024 Monaco Grand Prix win marks the end of whatever curse had previously stuck to him. By the end of the season, it might also represent the starting point for his championship charge. Formula One has never been tighter, and three teams have every chance of winning. By rewriting history, Leclerc has helped make the sport the must-watch Sunday viewing it hasn't been since 2021.


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