Charles Leclerc is always looking forward to his Formula 1 home race. So far, however, he has always been disappointed. Now he wants to end his series of failures and breakdowns. Can he do it?
Monaco is his kingdom. Monaco is his home. The Grand Prix in the Principality should finally become his race. If it weren’t for the curse that seems to be weighing on Charles Leclerc. Only recently, the Formula 1 title contender put a historic Ferrari of Niki Lauda into the crash barriers. A year ago, he was unable to start the race after a crash at the end of qualifying, in which he had even finished first. There was no Monaco race in 2020, he retired in 2019 and 2018 and even in 2017 in Formula 2 he did not finish in two races.
And yet, as every year, this Charles Leclerc looks forward anew to his personal home race with its many childhood memories. When it goes past the swimming pool, for example. “I learned to swim there as a child, so I already have an emotional connection,” he says. His Ferrari racing team gave the race preview the headline: “Welcome to Leclerc.”
In October 2010, Leclerc won the Monaco Kart Cup in his home country. On that race weekend he celebrated his 13th birthday. In the meantime he is 24 years old, the highly praised top driver and hopeful of Ferrari. But just before the Grand Prix in his home country, he was pushed out of the lead in the world championship standings for the first time this season by world champion Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.
A year ago, Leclerc had had to watch idly as the Dutchman triumphed for the first time in the small city-state on the Côte d’Azur due to a defect in his car. When asked in an interview with the French sports newspaper “L’Équipe” whether he would rather win in Monaco or the title, Leclerc replied: “I can’t commit myself. But the title is the most important thing. The title, that’s what I want.” Since Kimi Raikkonen’s 2007 triumph, the Scuderia has been waiting for its next drivers’ crown.
Verstappen just ahead – Leclerc ready to counterattack
Leclerc is six points behind ahead of the seventh race of the season. He has won two of the six World Championship races so far, Verstappen four. After three successes in a row for his Red Bull rival, Leclerc now wants to counterattack again. The retirement due to engine problems in Barcelona hit him and the racing team from Maranello hard.
“Charles Leclerc is ready for the turnaround on his home circuit in Monaco,” predicted the British “Times” on Thursday. He does not want to believe in a curse himself. “And I’m pretty sure things are going my way this year,” said Leclerc.
Since 2017, he has been “cursed in his garden”, the Monaco Matin newspaper found in the introduction to an interview with Leclerc, asking: “Will little Prince Charles finally reach the chequered flag?”
If he makes it first, he can possibly receive the princely congratulations as world championship leader after the race on Sunday, as long as Verstappen does not also secure the additional point for the fastest race lap as he always drives along the crash barriers.
Monaco’s special charm
The narrowness, the fact that mistakes are punished directly, all that also makes the street circuits in Monaco attractive for Leclerc. He “loves to flirt with risk”, he told “L’Équipe”. However, the four-time Grand Prix winner’s love affair with his home circuit is still rather one-sided.