Home favourite Charles Leclerc wins processional Monaco GP

Charles Leclerc has finally taken victory in the Monaco Grand Prix, having enjoyed a mostly serene drive to P1 in front of his home fans despite early drama playing out at the start.

The red flags were thrown before the first lap of the iconic event had even been completed after a huge collision between Sergio Perez’s Red Bull and the two Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg, putting all three out of the running.

Leclerc led away cleanly when proceedings were restarted – minus Esteban Ocon, who was forced to retire following heavy contact with Alpine team mate Pierre Gasly on Lap 1 – as a race of strategy played out, with all eyes on whether the leading cars would pit or make it to the end of the event.

But throughout it all, the Ferrari driver kept a cool head and remained ahead of his rivals to take his first win on the streets of Monte Carlo, beating his previous best result of P4.

Leclerc crossed the line seven seconds ahead of Oscar Piastri, who put in an assured drive in the McLaren and held off a late challenge from Carlos Sainz, with the Spaniard making it a double Ferrari podium in third. Sainz likewise was being chased down by Lando Norris throughout much of the latter stages, the second McLaren ending the day in fourth.

George Russell – running an upgraded front wing this weekend – was the lead Mercedes in fifth, having held off a charging Max Verstappen in what has been a challenging few days for Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton followed in seventh to add to the Silver Arrows’ points tally.

Yuki Tsunoda had another solid day by finishing eighth in the RB, while Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly both scored their first points of the year for Williams and Alpine in ninth and 10th respectively.

Fernando Alonso recovered somewhat following a difficult day on Saturday but just missed out on points, having finished in P11 for Aston Martin, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in P12 for RB and Valtteri Bottas as the lead Kick Sauber in P13.

There was disappointment for Lance Stroll, who ended the event in P14 for Aston Martin after suffering a puncture following a pit stop in the second half of the race, while Williams’ Logan Sargeant followed in P15.

The mangled wreckage of Sergio Perez’s Red Bull.

Zhou Guanyu became the last classified driver in 16th place for Kick Sauber, with four cars not making it beyond the first lap.

The aforementioned Ocon retired following his collision with Gasly, which has also earned him a five-place grid drop for the next race in Canada.

Perez, Magnussen and Hulkenberg joined him as the other retirees following their dramatic crash on the opening lap of the event.

After a thrilling qualifying hour on Saturday – complete with some surprise early exits, as well as an impressive pole-claiming lap from local favourite Leclerc – all attentions turned to Sunday’s race at the Circuit de Monaco.

There was some late drama post-qualifying when it was confirmed that both Haas cars had been disqualified from the session due to their rear wings being non-compliant, meaning that they would start the Grand Prix from the back of the field.

As the cars assembled on the grid and the tyre blankets came off in the warm and sunny conditions, it was revealed that there was an equal split in terms of running the medium and hard tyre compound for the expected one-stop encounter. The likes of Red Bull had chosen the C3 hard, while the Ferraris were amongst those to bolt on the C4 medium.

It was a smooth launch from P1 for Leclerc, while Piastri initially held onto second from Sainz. However, a small amount of contact between the pair later on in Sainte Devote saw the Ferrari go straight on at Casino with a puncture.

There was drama elsewhere when the cameras switched to a heavily damaged Red Bull belonging to Perez, alongside the two Haas cars stopped on track. The red flags were thrown as replays showed the Mexican was tagged by Magnussen up the inside, before ricocheting across the circuit and collecting Hulkenberg.

Fortunately everybody was unharmed, while the remaining cars returned to the pit lane to await the race restart. Sainz, meanwhile, had been able to get his SF-24 going again, and elsewhere further replays highlighted another dramatic collision between the two Alpine cars during Lap 1.

Leclerc leads the pack at the restart.

“What did he do?” a furious Gasly shouted over team radio after Ocon’s attempt to overtake through Portier caused the latter to bounce into the air following the contact.

As the dust settled, the teams and drivers could only wait for further news from Race Control as repairs continued on the damaged barriers. When an update arrived, it was confirmed that the order for the restart would be the same as how it stood when the Perez/Haas accident unfolded, meaning that Sainz would get his third place back.

Question marks remained over how the stoppage could affect strategy, with the option available to change tyres. There was also uncertainty over whether the pause in proceedings had allowed enough time for any cars with potential damage – such as Piastri, Sainz and the Alpines – to be repaired.

It was announced that the race would be resumed at 15:44 local time with 76 laps remaining, and it also soon became clear that most drivers had indeed taken the opportunity to swap tyres from the compound they had started on, all apparently hoping to run to the end of the event.

As the Grand Prix recommenced – minus Ocon, who had seemingly sustained too much of an impact in that incident with Gasly – the remaining 16 cars enjoyed a cleaner getaway, with Leclerc holding the lead from Piastri, Sainz and Norris.

Russell seemed keen to hold onto the back of Norris as the race settled down. While his Mercedes engineer advised him not to worry about staying so close to the McLaren, the Briton responded that he felt this was his “only opportunity”

The stewards confirmed that Ocon had been handed a time penalty for his collision with Gasly, though the Frenchman was already out of the running while Gasly was running in P10. This will be converted to a five-place grid drop next time out in Canada.

Meanwhile, as Lap 10 ticked down, Piastri pumped in the fastest lap as he remained within one second of Leclerc at the front, while Sainz was close on the Australian’s tail in third. Russell had dropped back a little in fifth, seemingly trying to conserve his medium tyres, as Verstappen – also on the C4 rubber – followed in sixth.

Within a few more laps, the gap had closed further at the front as Leclerc appeared unwilling to stretch out his lead. Elsewhere, Bottas visited the pits on Lap 16 to swap from the mediums to the hards, enabling him to set the fastest lap soon afterwards.

Piastri kept Leclerc honest but never got an opportunity to overtake.

As the margins between the top three remained incredibly close, Sainz asked whether Leclerc was managing, with the Spaniard seeming concerned that Piastri could “send it” at any moment. Further back the gaps were also fine in the latter half of the top-10, as Tsunoda, Albon and Gasly chased points in eighth, ninth and 10th respectively.

By Lap 23, the top four – all running the hard tyres – looked to have put their foot down, breaking away further from Russell in fifth. Leclerc had opened up a gap of more than one second from Piastri, as Sainz ran two seconds further down the road.

Elsewhere in the field, Alonso was leading a train from P12 stretching back to Bottas in P16. The Aston Martin driver had made places at the start after a tough qualifying on Saturday, but looked to be struggling to shake off his rivals in the midfield.

Norris – still within one second of Sainz in fourth – reported “abrasion” on the “front left” as the race headed towards Lap 29. Could the McLaren build enough of a gap to Russell in P5 to make a pit stop?

Graining looked to be an issue for many, with Norris’s engineer informing him that Sainz was experiencing the problem, while Mercedes and Aston Martin all seemed to be struggling with the same affliction. Strategy, as ever, was becoming an increasingly crucial factor in the race.

Sainz voiced his concerns about his own strategic plan when he asked his engineer on Lap 34: “Is there a risk that if we open 20 seconds, Lando goes for a soft maybe? Lando on the soft will be dangerous, as tyres are starting to grain.”

With Norris’s gap to Russell in fifth standing at 17 seconds as the race neared the halfway point, Leclerc had slowed in order to back the pack up and prevent the pit stop window opening up for Norris.

Similar strategy play was happening at Aston Martin as Alonso continued to hold station in front of the midfield train, seemingly allowing team mate Stroll to stay ahead in P11 – close to Gasly in the final points-paying position of P10.

Alex Albon brought home Williams’ first points of the season.

The leaders, meanwhile, had started to approach this stream of cars to lap them, starting with the Kick Sauber of Bottas. Thanks to being one of the few to make a pit stop, Bottas was still pumping in fastest lap times.

Stroll became the next driver to make a rare visit to the pits on Lap 44 and – owing to that defensive team work by Alonso – emerged back into his original position of 11th, with a 20-second gap to Gasly up ahead in the battle for those all-important points.

With Leclerc holding a gap of less than two seconds to Piastri by Lap 48, the Monegasque sounded calm on the radio as he asked his engineer if he would like to know how much faster he could go. “We are not interested,” was the response, to which Leclerc retorted: “That’s rude.”

There was drama two tours later as Stroll reported a puncture after clipping the barriers, having only recently made a pit stop. The Canadian managed to return to the pits to switch to the soft compound, while the carcass of his punctured tyre had rolled off near the pit lane.

A flurry of action suddenly ensued in the pits, as Hamilton stopped from P7 for a set of used hards. Given the gap he held to Tsunoda in P8, the seven-time world champion was able to hold position. As such, Verstappen followed with a pit stop from P6 on the next lap, also for his starting hard tyres, before slotting neatly back into the same place.

Elsewhere, Bottas pulled off an overtake on Sargeant through Mirabeau to move up into 13th place. Up ahead, however, Russell looked destined to stay in sixth, with a pit stop for the Briton meaning he would drop behind the charging Verstappen and Hamilton.

As Verstappen continued to eat into Russell’s advantage – and Stroll swept past Zhou and Sargeant after bolting on the soft rubber – this was all providing food for thought amongst the front-runners over whether a stop could be worthwhile.

With the race heading into its latter stages by Lap 60, it looked as if Norris had missed his chance to pit given that Russell had increased his speed in an attempt to break away from Verstappen, though the possibility of a stop remained for the other McLaren of Piastri.

Leclerc celebrates an emotional victory with his Ferrari crew.

While Verstappeen continued to look for a way past Russell, the Mercedes driver’s earlier tyre management seemed to be paying off as he remained ahead of the Red Bull, while Norris remained narrowly behind Sainz further ahead.

There was a hint at late drama when Sargeant reported that he had hit the wall, though the Williams driver escaped without damage in P15. Piastri, meanwhile, had dropped back from Leclerc at the front, raising the possibility of a challenge from Sainz.

As Leclerc vowed to “bring it home”, Piastri, Sainz and Norris were all running closely as the battle for second intensified. But Sainz was ultimately unable to get ahead of Piastri, and the positions were unchanged as Leclerc crossed the line ahead to take an emotional home victory.

Further back, Russell also resisted the pressure from Verstappen to claim P5, with the Dutchman following in P6 ahead of Hamilton in P7 and Tsunoda adding to his points tally in P8.

Albon and Gasly both got off the mark by scoring their first points of the season in ninth and 10th respectively, also marking the debut points for Williams in 2024, while Alonso missed out in 11th for Aston Martin.

Ricciardo and Bottas also came away without points in 12th and 13th, ahead of Stroll who took 14th thanks to a late fightback following his puncture in the second half of the race.

Sargeant crossed the line in P15 for Williams, while Zhou was the last of the classified runners in P16, with Ocon, Perez, Hulkenberg and Magnussen all having retired following their first-lap incidents.

The next stop on the 2024 F1 calendar will be Montreal, with the Canadian Grand Prix taking place on the weekend of June 7-9.


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