Charles Leclerc holds off Oscar Piastri to win at home in Monaco

May 26, 2024, 12:19 PM

MONTE CARLO, Monaco -- Charles Leclerc held off race-long pressure from McLaren's Oscar Piastri to finally end his home race curse and win the Monaco Grand Prix.

Victory for the Ferrari driver, born and raised in the principality of Monaco, ended a long string of heartbreaking results at the famous Monte Carlo circuit with a faultless drive out in front.

Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz rounded off the podium in third.

Leclerc had previously failed to score so much as a podium finish in five previous attempts at the event. It marked his first win since the Austrian Grand Prix in 2022.

Leclerc said after the race: "No words can explain that ... it's such a difficult race. The fact starting twice on pole and couldn't make it makes it even better. It means a lot. It's the race that made me dream of becoming a Formula One driver.

"It was a difficult race emotionally, 15 laps from the end I was hoping nothing happens, already the emotions were coming. I was thinking to my dad ... obviously he had given everything for me to be here, it was a dream of ours to race here and win, it's unbelievable."

Much of Leclerc's victory had been built on a superb pole position lap on Saturday, considered the most exciting and important qualifying session of the year given the limited overtaking opportunities around Monaco's tight and twisty streets.

The stewards agreed it was Ocon's fault and he will serve a five-place grid penalty at the next race in Montreal.

Sainz will have F1's regulations to thank for saving his race. The Spanish driver picked up a puncture on the run up the hill, just up the road from the Perez incident, after brushing with Piastri at the start.

That puncture saw Sainz go off the track and drop down the order, but he would restart from third on the grid due to the timing of the red flag.

Since rules state every driver must use two of the three different sets of tyres through a race, and changes are permitted under red flag conditions, everyone who started on the medium tyres, which included Leclerc, Piastri, Sainz and Norris, were able to restart on the more durable hard tyre, meaning they could go to the end of the race following the restart.

Meanwhile, Verstappen and Mercedes teammates Hamilton and Russell, who started on the hard, had to go in the other direction, putting them at risk of losing positions later if the tyre could not go the distance.

On his return to the pits, an angry Hamilton was broadcast saying to Mercedes: "I told you guys, I told you guys," suggesting he had wanted to start on the medium tyre to mitigate against the risk of an early red flag.

That fact quickly set the pace. While the lead four cars cantered away in the distance, Russell, the lead driver of the group who was now on the medium tyre, was turning out much slower laps in a bid to nurse his tyres to the end of the race without having to stop again.

A huge gap between Norris in fourth and Russell in fifth soon opened up, with Verstappen stuck behind the Mercedes driver in sixth.

Verstappen and Hamilton were both able to stop for new tyres, with Tsunoda dropping even further behind in a bid to make it to the end without stopping again.