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Formula 1: Home curse defeated: Leclerc’s triumph in Monaco

Formula 1: Home curse defeated: Leclerc’s triumph in Monaco

Leclerc takes his first Monaco victory on his doorstep. The World Championship could still be really exciting. Because world champion Verstappen is trailing the leaders – and would like a pillow.

Charles Leclerc has overcome his home curse and won the Formula 1 classic in Monaco for the first time, well ahead of the frighteningly weak Max Verstappen. The 26-year-old Ferrari driver, born in Monte Carlo, drove from pole position to win one of the most prestigious races in motorsport. He was waved off first with the chequered flag by football superstar Kylian Mbappé and was able to look forward to the traditional prince’s dinner in the evening.

Second place in the Grand Prix, which once again offered little racing action after a serious accident on the first lap, went to Australian Oscar Piastri in his McLaren. Third place went to Carlos Sainz in the second Ferrari, ahead of Imola winner Lando Norris in the second and still very strong McLaren.

Verstappen triumphed in Monaco in 2021 and last year, but this time he only finished sixth and complained in the middle of the race: “This is boring. I should have brought my pillow.” In the standings, the three-time world champion’s lead over the now wide-awake competition continues to shrink: Leclerc is only 31 points behind before the next race in Canada in two weeks.

Maximum risk of crash when overtaking

Everyone knows how narrow the streets of the principality are – but there was a crash just a few seconds after the red lights went out. Leclerc defended his pole position quite confidently at the front, while behind him Piastri and Sainz were already engaged in a heated duel that almost brought the Spanish Ferrari driver to an end.

The race, which every year reminds us of a journey into the past of the premier class of motorsport, was over for a total of four drivers, including vice world champion Sergio Pérez after or rather on the first lap. During an attempt to overtake on the uphill, Haas driver Kevin Magnussen first brushed against the guard rails himself, then his car touched the rear of Pérez’s Red Bull.

The Mexican crashed his car into the track barriers, leaving the Red Bull as a wreck. Nico Hülkenberg in the second Haas racing car also crashed. “Damn, that was unnecessary,” Hülkenberg radioed to the pits. “It’s bitter for me, after 500 meters it’s frustrating and a shame,” he said to the TV channel Sky.

The Grand Prix was interrupted for about 40 minutes due to repair work, and Esteban Ocon was also missing at the restart. In the bitter Alpine team duel, he had clashed with his French compatriot Pierre Gasly.

Leclerc’s fight against the curse

Fortunately, no one was injured in the crashes, which once again created a typical Monaco Formula 1 feeling. After the interruption, the race continued with the original starting line-up. Leclerc stayed in front again. He had taken pole for his home race for the third time. Up until then, he had never won on the streets where the only real Monegasque in the field grew up.

Instead, his home race seemed to be under a curse. He had competed in various racing series seven times up until Sunday, but had only reached the finish line twice. He had not won a single race. This time, too, it was not a walk in the park. Piastri put on a lot of pressure after his McLaren teammate Norris had won in Imola. Behind Leclerc and Piastri, Sainz and Norris initially formed the top quartet.

Verstappen just rumbles behind

The Ferrari driver could not afford to make the mistakes that Leclerc had made time and again in recent years and months. The lead was too small, the barriers were too close. Even if this time there was no danger from the previous dominator Verstappen. After problems in qualifying, the Dutchman in his Red Bull was also rumbling along behind for a long time in the race, by his standards, and complained on the pit radio. Only with new tires did the Dutchman turn things up again and reduce the gap to George Russell in the Mercedes. But the Monegasque overtaking dilemma then caught up with Verstappen. He was unable to get past.

At the front, Leclerc was heading for the sixth victory of his career. The Monegasque, who was once presented as a great hope for World Championship merit at the Scuderia, had not won since July 2022. The fact that it worked out at his home race and the yachts started the traditional honking in his honor made the first home victory all the more beautiful.

Source: Stern

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