Published: 10:08, May 27, 2024
Leclerc takes emotional F1 Monaco GP win
By Xinhua
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc of Monaco celebrates after winning the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix race at the Monaco racetrack, in Monaco, May 26, 2024. (PHOTO / AP)

PARIS - Ferrari's Charles Leclerc took his first victory of the 2024 Formula One season with a lights-to-flag win at his home race in the Monaco Grand Prix.

The race was red-flagged on lap 1 to clear debris caused by a heavy collision between Sergio Perez's Red Bull and the two Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg, all of whom were forced to retire.

The remaining drivers were able to change their tyres before the restarted race, thus fulfilling an F1 rule that two different tyre compounds must be used during a Grand Prix.

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With track position of paramount importance around the narrow streets of Monaco, the race became a processional one, as drivers did their best to last the remaining 76 laps of the Grand Prix without having to pit for fresh rubber.

Though tactical tyre management was the order of the day, pole-sitter Leclerc held off the threat from McLaren's Oscar Piastri at the start, and remained in front for the remainder of the race to score his first win on the streets of his home city.

"No words can explain that," said Leclerc, who had never previously finished higher than fourth at Monaco, despite twice securing the all-important pole position.

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"It's such a difficult race, I think the fact twice I've been starting on pole position and we couldn't quite make it makes it even better in a way.

"It means a lot, obviously. It's the race which made me dream of becoming a Formula One driver one day.

"15 laps to the end you're hoping nothing happens and the emotions are coming.

"My dad has given everything for me to be here and it was a dream of ours for me to race here and win here, so it's unbelievable."

Behind Leclerc, McLaren's Oscar Piastri scored his best result of 2024 in second, with Leclerc's teammate Carlos Sainz surviving a puncture at the first start to round out the top three.

Lando Norris took fourth in the second McLaren, with Mercedes' George Russell fifth.

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Championship leader Max Verstappen was only sixth on a weekend where Red Bull were uncharacteristically uncompetitive, with Russell's teammate Lewis Hamilton taking seventh.

Yuki Tsunoda finished a fine eighth for RB, with Alex Albon an excellent ninth for Williams' first points of the season, and Pierre Gasly rounding out the top ten for Alpine.

The difficulty of overtaking at Monaco was typified by the fact that the top ten drivers all finished in the order in which they had lined up on the starting grid.

Despite a bad weekend, Verstappen still leads the Drivers' Championship on 169 points, but Leclerc has closed the gap and now has 138. Norris moves ahead of Perez into third with 113.

In the Constructors' Championship, Red Bull now have 276, with Ferrari on 252, and McLaren third with 184 points.

The ninth round of the 2024 F1 season is the Canadian Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal on June 9.