10 things we learned at the 2024 F1 Monaco Grand Prix

It was a thrilling edition of a race steeped in history, worthy of joining those that came before it in the stratosphere of motorsport’s memorable moments. Strategic gamesmanship preceded a final showdown between two of the championship’s brightest talents, and the conclusion did not disappoint: a fearless overtake around the outside on the final lap proved to be the clincher.

But enough about the Indianapolis 500. Instead, our gaze is firmly affixed on the more sedate affair that took place in Monaco, as Formula 1’s annual visit to the Cote d’Azur induced a sense of restlessness over its 78-lap duration. That’s not to say that it didn’t ultimately yield a feel-good factor as Charles Leclerc claimed a long-awaited victory at his home event, but a stifled spectacle left the battles to be drawn on the timesheets rather than the streets.

PLUS: Monaco Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2024

It’s not as though the nature of Monaco offered any new insights into how difficult it is to race around the principality’s tight roads — Nelson Piquet had claimed the «riding a bicycle around your living room» simile some decades prior. Just as dull films still (generally speaking) have their plot-lines, an ennui-laden race is not without a paddock full of stories. And if you fancy 10 of those stories — hoo boy, you’re in the right place.

1. The Leclerc Monaco curse isn’t real — and he never believed in it

Leclerc celebrates his maiden Monaco GP win on the podium

Leclerc celebrates his maiden Monaco GP win on the podium

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Superstition is a funny quirk of the human condition. Religious or not, people tend to be united in their efforts to knock on wood or avoid walking under ladders to ward off a nebulous spectre of malevolence. At least the suggestion of a Leclerc curse at Monaco appeared to be rooted in something tangible. At his home event, Leclerc retired from pole in his 2017 F2 championship year before stepping up to F1.

Once he’d made it into the big time, he endured the following: a crash into Brendon Hartley in 2018 with a brake failure, a Q1 elimination in 2019 prior to a clash with Nico Hulkenberg in the race, a crash in 2021’s qualifying session after setting a lap good enough for pole, causing driveshaft damage resulting in a did-not-start, 2022’s pit delay that cost him a shot at victory from pole (after binning Niki Lauda’s 1974 Ferrari at the Rascasse in the Monaco Historic Grand Prix), and a drop to sixth in 2023 having factored in the podium battle.

PLUS: The two critical changes behind Leclerc finally breaking his Monaco F1 duck

This year? Third pole lucky. As early as Friday, Leclerc had been considered as «not reachable» by his peers on the grid, as he seemed to be able to hook up competitive laps on demand around the streets he’d grown up on. That continued into qualifying to yield his third home pole position, and he was not about to relinquish such a golden opportunity.

Luck, for once, came his way. A start on medium tyres ensured he could grab the hard compound amid the red-flag delay, and attempts to nullify McLaren’s efforts to build a gap to pit in was successful.

«I never believed in the curse,» Leclerc asserted afterwards. «However, it always felt very difficult in the two chances I had to win here. One, I couldn’t even start the race. The second one, we didn’t make the right choice, I think. So it was very, very frustrating to lose those wins.

«I knew that today was another opportunity. I knew how it felt the last two times I was in this position, But I obviously really wanted to get that victory today, so there’s a bit of tension. But as I’ve said, as soon as I put the helmet on and as soon as I get into the car I don’t feel anything anymore.»

2. Senna livery can’t grant McLaren luck of the Monaco draw

McLaren ran a special Senna-inspired livery, but it wasn't enough to overhaul Ferrari

McLaren ran a special Senna-inspired livery, but it wasn’t enough to overhaul Ferrari

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Whatever your opinion on the deification of Ayrton Senna, you have to concede that McLaren’s special livery for Monaco — based on the Brazilian’s famed helmet design — looked cool. Some suggested that it was reminiscent of Benetton’s early-90s Camel-infused liveries, although to this writer’s eye it had notes of a 1988 Coloni if you squinted enough. Thankfully for McLaren, it didn’t perform like one — although it didn’t quite invoke Senna’s precipitous Monaco pace either.

Had Oscar Piastri hooked up his best sectors in qualifying, he might have managed to double the Woking squad’s win count for 2024, but it seemed that there was no beating Leclerc to pole. An opportunity to pass barely opened up in the race either, Piastri citing that the cars were too wide to make half a look into the Nouvelle Chicane pay off. Instead, the team attempted to make its own luck by pushing Leclerc in an effort to open up a pit window.

The fifth-placed George Russell was being dropped at a vast rate of knots by the top four cars. McLaren hoped that, if the gap between Lando Norris and Russell could be extended to more than 20 seconds, the Bristol-born driver could call in for a free stop and use the tyre performance advantage to clear Carlos Sainz, help Piastri execute his own stop, and start to challenge Leclerc for the lead. Naturally, Ferrari cottoned onto that pretty swiftly and gave Leclerc the command to start backing the yellow-and-green cars up.

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A chance to bring Norris in emerged in the second half of the race, but it was fleeting at best; Russell picked up the pace to win his own battle with Max Verstappen after the Red Bull driver pounced on a chance to pit. Thus, McLaren had to be content with losing the duel to Ferrari — a fight between two teams that rolled back the years.

3. Sainz wins grid recount from Zhou biding his time

Sainz was lucky to be given a reprieve after contact at the race start with Piastri

Sainz was lucky to be given a reprieve after contact at the race start with Piastri

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

When he mounted his first-corner assault on Piastri with the hope of setting up a Ferrari 1-2, Sainz came off worse in their scuffle and pulled over at Casino Square with a puncture. Crucially, the Spaniard kept the car rolling and trundled back to the pitlane amid the first-lap red flag, so he was at least guaranteed a chance to resume his efforts on the hard tyre.

He was lucky to be reinstated to third for the restart, a slice of fortune that ensured Leclerc had a rear gunner to make his arduous path to victory in Monaco a touch easier. He had Zhou Guanyu to thank for that, as the Sauber driver had not yet reached the first split before the red flag was called — instead, he was slowly picking his way through the debris caused by the Sergio Perez/Kevin Magnussen collision at Beau Rivage. Had Zhou crossed it, Sainz would have been carted to the back of the order — instead, the grid reverted to the order noted at the second safety car line.

This caused consternation from Norris. Although the Briton reckoned that «I’m sure there’s been moments in the past where maybe I’ve been fortunate from it», he called the decision «frustrating and unfair, that because someone makes a mistake and because of a certain amount of cars or whatever the rule is, that he gets to undo that mistake and gets a free pitstop.”

There was also confusion further down the order too, as Lance Stroll’s strong start to the initial getaway from the grid ensured he crossed the safety car line clear of Daniel Ricciardo. His position resumed ahead of the Australian on the standing restart, which led Fernando Alonso to mistakenly believe his Aston Martin team-mate was in the points.

After Stroll’s puncture, Alonso took great pains to defend from Ricciardo in the understanding that it was for a point. Told he’d finished 11th at the flag, he deadpanned «I said, ‘Oh, so all that stress for nothing.’ But it kept me alive…»

4. Red Bull’s low-speed weakness returns, as team retains key piece of puzzle

Verstappen could manage only sixth after a weekend of struggles for Red Bull

Verstappen could manage only sixth after a weekend of struggles for Red Bull

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

A pattern started to emerge throughout practice and qualifying. Max Verstappen had good pace in the opening sector of the Monaco lap, as his RB20 seemed to put up with the bumpy run to Massenet and collect a decent exit through Casino Square. After that, the speed rather fell away.

Mirabeau and the Fairmont/Loews/Station Hairpin sapped away at the championship leader’s time, as did the Rascasse at the end of the lap. It brought back memories of last year’s Singapore race, where a battle with set-up issues cost the team a clean sweep of victories in 2023.

Verstappen suggested that the current lineage of Red Bulls, despite their wild success over the past couple of years, have always struggled to grapple with slow, bumpy street courses. He likened the suspension performance to that of a go-kart; the stiffly-sprung RB20 did not bestow him with the compliance needed to feel comfortable around Monaco’s bone-shattering roads.

The problem was that, particularly last year, the lack of competitiveness elsewhere on the grid had rather masked those deficiencies. Typically, Verstappen grabbed the car by the scruff of the neck and forced it to largely comply, but Sergio Perez’s different sensibilities rather contributed to his dismal weekend in Monte Carlo.

Off-track, there was good news at the team with the news that chief engineer Paul Monaghan has extended his contract as Red Bull sought to lock down its key players in the wake of Adrian Newey’s departure. Technical chief Pierre Wache had already been handed a new deal to ward off the threat of Ferrari, and sporting director Jonathan Wheatley is expected to be next to sign despite harbouring ambitions to become a team principal elsewhere.

5. Who was to blame for the Perez/Magnussen shunt?

Perez and Magnussen would come to blows moments after this shot was taken

Perez and Magnussen would come to blows moments after this shot was taken

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

It probably wasn’t too much of a stretch to shove every iota of blame at Kevin Magnussen’s door when he and Sergio Perez clashed on the run to Massenet in the grand prix’s opening lap. After all, the Dane had spent the first part of this season accruing penalty points with the vigour of an antiques collector at a car boot sale, and it seemed somewhat inevitable that his apparently misguided attempt to pass at Beau Rivage would net the points needed to preclude him from the trip to Montreal.

Team-mate Nico Hulkenberg’s role as collateral damage was hardly going to endear an under-pressure driver to his employers either. And yet, on second viewing, the incident was not as clear cut.

Magnussen saw a gap between Perez and the barrier and decided to exploit it. It was ambitious, and might have required a near-improbable level of quantum tunnelling to squeeze his Haas through the space, but there was room for Perez to see Magnussen coming and at least accommodate a two-wide situation by moving slightly to the left.

Except Perez didn’t do that. He looked in his mirrors, saw the #20 car reflecting back at him, and decided not to do anything about it but continue on his current trajectory. He expected Magnussen to back out, Magnussen expected not to be squeezed, and thus began a heavy crash that demonstrated the futility of expecting quid pro quo on a racing track.

Hulkenberg looked as though he’d scraped through the mess, but the heavily-damaged Red Bull of Perez was out of control and clipped the veteran German’s rear to put him out of the grand prix on the spot.

Thus, it’s fair to apportion blame to both drivers. Magnussen is lucky to be let off the hook, but it’s likely that Perez’s visible glance towards his right-hand mirror was the smoking gun that spared both drivers from a stewards’ investigation. The Mexican was «very surprised» that Magnussen was not penalised, but his rival continued to assert he was squeezed into the wall.

6. Peeling advertisements caused a sticky situation

Norris passing by torn advertising stickers, which became a problem across Friday and Saturday

Norris passing by torn advertising stickers, which became a problem across Friday and Saturday

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

It’s not unusual to see advert hoardings destroyed in the line of racing action, either through impact or a driver’s intent to derail capitalism in a display of political grandstanding (okay, the latter example is less common). However, the trackside banners rarely become as much of a distraction as seen in Monaco this year.

The choice to use stickers on the Armco barriers is not a new one and does come with the caveat that they might be torn off — anyone who followed Formula E’s Puebla races in 2021 will have seen cars carrying ribbons of advertisements that had become dislodged.

But F1 cars are much more sensitive beasts, and it became apparent that any errant sticky stuff was becoming a nuisance for the cars’ aerodynamics. Perez reckoned that the stickers were partly to blame for his own underperformance in qualifying along with traffic, stating that he had to avoid fragments of advertising in Turn 8, while Norris also came unstuck in Q1 with parts of the hoardings finding their way underneath his McLaren.

«All the boarding came off and got stuck under my car, which then cost me the tyres,» Norris said. «It was a bit of a mess and that shouldn’t happen in Formula 1, because it could have cost me my whole weekend in the same case. I had to pit for it to come off.

«They said they were going to fix it but it obviously wasn’t fixed. It could have ruined my qualifying and my whole day. They need to come up with a better solution than just stickers.»

Some of the stickers were removed in time for the race, ensuring no repeats from the opening sessions. It was hardly the most gripping footnote of the weekend, but it almost cost a few drivers to become unglued…

7. Williams gets first points of 2024 as it enters frame for Sainz

Albon spent his entire race tucked up behind Tsunoda, but still broke Williams' 2024 duck

Albon spent his entire race tucked up behind Tsunoda, but still broke Williams’ 2024 duck

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Alex Albon tried to double his tally from the Monaco Grand Prix and put Yuki Tsunoda under heavy pressure for most of the race’s run-time, but the RB driver was simply saving his pace — and dropped the hammer with a few laps to go to cement eighth place. Nonetheless, ninth was a good reward for Williams and ensured the Grove squad broke its duck for the year, capitalising on an excellent qualifying performance from Albon.

After breaking into Q3 on Saturday, Albon ran off-sync with the rest of the field and used a clear track to set his final flying lap — one that got him ahead of Pierre Gasly on the grid. He spent his race staring at Tsunoda’s wing, as the car Williams team principal James Vowles witheringly referred to as the «AlphaTauri Visa CashApp Buy One Get One Free» on Sky Sports stifled his driver’s attempts to pass.

Autosport looked at Williams’ revival hopes last week, and its change in philosophy has borne the first signs of fruit at a circuit its older models struggled at. It might not be a moment too soon, as Williams is currently working on its 2025 line-up and attempting to secure an upgrade on Logan Sargeant.

Valtteri Bottas was known to be in talks over a return to the team last weekend, but it emerged that Sainz is also on the team’s wishlist. It would be a not-insignificant feat to snare the Melbourne race winner’s services and requires Sainz to buy into Vowles’ vision but, if he’s not wholly convinced by Audi, it’s not a bad option to have.

8. Alpine’s fury has peaked with warring drivers

Ocon's optimistic lunge on team-mate Gasly led to fallout in the Alpine camp

Ocon’s optimistic lunge on team-mate Gasly led to fallout in the Alpine camp

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

When Alpine partnered Esteban Ocon with Gasly last year, much was made of their adversarial relationship. They both exuded confidence that it was all water under the bridge, and agreed not to put the team at risk despite their palpable frostiness towards each other. There were moments of conflict last year, particularly with regards to team orders and their Melbourne clash, but it all seemed to be smoothed over.

But there was something desperate about Ocon’s futile effort to move past Gasly in Monaco. There was no chance that a gap was going to open up in Portier, and the two came close to re-enacting Jenson Button’s tipping of Pascal Wehrlein into the barrier from 2017.

Ocon tried to barge his way past, their tyres made contact, and the lankier Frenchman was lifted into the air before coming back to earth with a shuddering halt. It caused damage to Ocon’s car that could not be repaired in the 40-minute red-flag hiatus, while Gasly’s damage was fixed in time for him to re-assume 10th place for the restart.

Alpine principal Bruno Famin was incensed. Usually accosted by a mild-mannered air, Famin frothed with fury when speaking to Canal+ and warned that Ocon’s inglorious assault would come with consequences. To his credit, Ocon assumed full blame for the incident — while Gasly said that there was a clear order in place before the grand prix started.

«You should never have such a situation, especially between team-mates,» Gasly mused. «Just sad, disappointed with the situation. We had clear instructions before the race on what to do, and whoever qualified ahead, the trailing car was supposed to help throughout the race. That was the strategy. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.»

9. Expanding anti-dilution fund plan accompanies Andretti courtroom progress

Comments from Mario Andretti over the weekend have only added to the fire of F1/Andretti's long-running saga

Comments from Mario Andretti over the weekend have only added to the fire of F1/Andretti’s long-running saga

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

Andretti might have failed to secure a Formula 1 entry for 2025/26, but the American team’s promise that its «work continues at a pace» continues to ring true. Ex-Renault technical chief Pat Symonds has been recruited from FOM to serve as a consultant to Andretti, a clear statement of its intent, and it has also been lobbying the US Congress to consider the team’s rejection as a breach of anti-competition laws.

PLUS: The wider significance of Andretti’s Symonds signing

It has become a bi-partisan issue in Congress, with a view to the issue being taken up in the US Department of Justice. Red Bull team boss Christian Horner admitted «surprise» that Andretti had taken its F1 rejection entry down the route of legislature, stating: «[F1 is] US-owned. We have five Fortune 500 companies on our car.

«This isn’t about anything to do with Andretti being American or anything like that. I think it’s purely down to the business model that is Formula 1. I was surprised to see that Andretti have gone down this process but, hopefully if they really want to find a way onto the grid they will find it. The most natural solution is for them to acquire an existing franchise should one want to sell.»

Following this, it is expected that the $200m anti-dilution fund that new teams must pay to join the F1 grid will be upped to $600m in the next Concorde Agreement for 2026 and beyond. This also includes the caveat that new teams are not eligible for prize money in their first season. That Andretti and Cadillac continue to stake their claim for an F1 entry despite the increasing hurdles placed in their way must be commended.

10. New cost cap changes may cause «Christmas party or front wing?» dilemma

Horner has insisted employees must not bear the brunt of any future changes

Horner has insisted employees must not bear the brunt of any future changes

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Further changes to F1’s financial structure look set to culminate in modifications to the cost cap regulations. F1 is in discussion with the teams about lifting the cap to $220m, from the circa-$135m limit currently in place, but this cap would include a series of additional details. This is expected to consolidate capital expenditure guidelines to within the new cap, along with other current exemptions, but concerns have been raised over those that govern spend on personnel.

One of these sticking points includes the implementation of maternity leave, which it is argued that it could discourage teams from hiring women. The FIA has stated that maternity leave and similar scenarios would remain exempt, but there is lobbying among the teams to keep certain areas of spend outside of the cap to ensure that employees are not affected. One of these areas includes personnel spend on events, which Horner explained through the suggestion that Christmas parties might be axed to put money into performance gains.

«I think that what I think is the most important thing for 2026 is that the employees don’t bear the brunt of those changes,» Horner explained. «So I think there’s a sensible discussion about what’s being included, what is to remain excluded and what actually is relevant to creating performance. For example, does a Christmas party actually make your car go faster?

«Now, if that is to be included in the cap, of course, every technical director is going to want a front wing as opposed to a Christmas party, which is a bit tight. And so it’s finding that balance. I’m not saying that our technical director doesn’t like Christmas parties, but he likes front wings.»

Perhaps a Christmas party game where employees design a front wing out of scrap paper might be too much of a busman’s holiday, so it’s sensible to assume that the festive season might need to remain a further exemption. Otherwise, Santa Claus might find himself luxuriating in fewer mince pies in 2026…

How will future cost cap changes affect F1?

How will future cost cap changes affect F1?

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

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