Leclerc wins on hometown streets

An audibly ecstatic Leclerc crossed the line 7.1s clear of Piastri to claim his first-ever victory at the Monaco street circuit, after overcoming the Australian at two standing starts after an early red flag, and then set the pace sufficiently to deny McLaren a tactical advantage. 

Despite periods of pressure from Piastri over the 76 laps of uninterrupted running following the early hiatus, Leclerc absorbed it all and did enough to anticipate a potential McLaren upset by backing up the pack to quell a potential pitstop window.

In the final stages, Leclerc dropped Piastri to build up a gap that surpassed eight seconds, before electing to back off and «bring it home» to dispel his dreaded ‘Monaco curse’.

«No words can explain that,» Leclerc said after the race. «It’s such a difficult race, I think the fact that twice I’ve been starting on pole and I couldn’t make it makes it a lot better. 

«It was a difficult race emotionally, because already 15 laps from the end you’re hoping nothing happens. I was thinking a lot more to my dad than a lot more when I was driving.

«At first, we had quite a lot of margin but there was 78 laps to do. There was a big portion of the race where I had to manage the gap with George, but then I could push a lot more.»

A first-lap shunt produced the early red flag, as Kevin Magnussen attempted to squeeze his Haas down the inside of Sergio Perez at Beau Rivage. The two made contact; Perez’s car sustained heavy damage as he was tipped into the opposite wall, and also wiped out Nico Hulkenberg in the process. 

Marshals remove the damaged car of Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB20, from the circuit after a crash on the opening lap

Marshals remove the damaged car of Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB20, from the circuit after a crash on the opening lap

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Heavy damage to the barriers created a 40-minute delay in the race’s resumption, but that proved not to be the only skirmish on the opening lap: Carlos Sainz also sustained a front-left puncture into Turn 1 while attempting to pass Oscar Piastri for second, which sent him to the back of the field as he initially pulled over at Casino Square. The Spaniard was handed a reprieve when he was reinstated to his third-place grid slot at the restart.

This changed the dynamic of the race considerably as the field swapped tyres to satisfy the rule necessitating both compounds to be run, theoretically ensuring that everyone could run to the end without stopping.

As such, a tactical game emerged between the Ferraris and McLarens as they tried to deny and create a pitstop window respectively; Leclerc was tasked with slowing the pace down to limit the possibility that Lando Norris could clear George Russell sufficiently to bank a free pitstop. 

As the laps flew by, McLaren’s chance of setting the cat among the pigeons by giving Norris fresh tyres dwindled as Carlos Sainz did his bit to keep Norris from making further progress on Russell — the gap stalling at about 15 seconds.

With 10 laps to go and with no chance for the McLarens to make a stop, Leclerc pulled the pin and held his nerve to win — and left Piastri in the clutches of Sainz, who also still had Norris sat on his tail. But neither Sainz nor Norris could make a tilt to claim second, giving Piastri second.

George Russell held on for fifth after warding off Max Verstappen for over 25 laps despite the Dutchman having fresher tyres; Lewis Hamilton’s stop from seventh thanks to a free pitstop window to Yuki Tsunoda gave Verstappen the chance to stop too, but the Red Bull driver could not make the most of his newer hard tyres to mount a pass. Hamilton retained seventh as a result.

Tsunoda claimed eighth after absorbing pressure from Williams’ Alex Albon throughout the opening 70 laps of the race, banking tyre life in the process to leave the Anglo-Thai driver for dust in the race’s final act. Through Albon, Williams secured its first points of the season — also the team’s first scoring finish at Monaco since 2017.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Pierre Gasly survived a first-lap encounter with Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon to cement the final point. Ocon attempted a lunge at Portier on the opening lap to make tyre-to-tyre contact — which sent him slightly airborne and ultimately caused his retirement.

Monaco Grand Prix result

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