Charles Leclerc Monaco GP record: Ferrari star out to banish seven-year curse

Heading into his home race at Monaco, Leclerc is hoping for better fortunes than his previous races at the Principality.

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After growing up in Monaco, Charles Leclerc must know the streets of Monte Carlo like the back of his hand. That makes his rotten luck at the Monaco Grand Prix over the past seven years even more puzzling, as he is still waiting for a podium at his home race.

Now into his seventh season in Formula 1, Leclerc has raced six times at the famous Monaco street circuit and finished the race only twice. For a driver who has five race victories, 34 podiums and 23 pole positions in his career, it is one of F1’s unanswerable mysteries that he has so far failed to put the Scuderia inside the top three.

The Leclerc ‘Monaco curse’ dates back to his dominant season in Formula 2 in 2017 when he won the drivers’ championship. Despite retiring from the feature race and finishing 18th in the Sprint.

It carried through to F1 in his rookie year with Sauber in 2018, when he was a promising driver looking to make his mark. He managed to out-qualify his team-mate Marcus Ericsson to start from 14th on the grid, with the possibility of points within his sights.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has never finished on the Monaco podium | REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

But a brakes failure during the race resulted in a frightening high-speed collision with Brendan Hartley in the Toro Rosso (now Visa Cash App RB) on Lap 70. Both cars were forced to retire, with Leclerc’s first memories of his F1 debut at Monaco shrouded in disappointment.

Even after making the move to Ferrari in 2019, things got even worse. The team decided to leave him in the garage in Q1, seemingly oblivious to the concept of track evolution, and he tumbled down the order in qualifying, starting from 16th. Desperate to make amends in the race, an overzealous Leclerc clipped the wall at La Rascasse and the damage was significant enough to force him to retire.

The sweeping Covid pandemic cancelled the race in 2020, so Leclerc wouldn’t get a chance to put things right until the following year, although their sixth-place finish in the constructors’ championship suggests this may have been a blessing rather than a missed opportunity for the Prancing Horse.

Leclerc: From Monaco hero to zero

In 2021, he finally got a chance to put things right by securing pole position – only for his crash on the second run to bring out the red flag. As it happened, Leclerc did damage to his gearbox and despite fixing the damage overnight, he suffered a driveshaft issue on his way to the grid for the formation lap.

Another pole position followed in 2022, this time with Leclerc able to take the start and for the first time, he was the race leader at Monaco. Rain made their task more complicated before a pit stop nightmare from Ferrari – dropping the ball by double-stacking Carlos Sainz and Leclerc – saw Red Bull capitalise as Sergio Perez took the win.

In 2023, there was little Leclerc could do to stop the Red Bull rocketship on pace alone. But his three-place grid drop for impeding Lando Norris in qualifying didn’t help as he dropped to sixth, and even with the wet-to-dry race offering more jeopardy than usual, he finished the race exactly where he started.

But there is optimism that this might be Ferrari‘s year, which would be their first victory in the Principality since Sebastian Vettel took the chequered flag in 2017, with Leclerc confident he can overcome his troubles.

Charles Leclerc had secured pole position but finished fourth in 2022. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

“As I’ve said many times, it’s the same roads that I took my bus to go to school when I was younger than 18 in a Formula 1 car, so that makes it extra special for me,” Leclerc told the written press in Imola, including Total-Motorsport.com.

“Monaco is very, very special for me. It’s true that it hasn’t been the most successful race for me until now. However, the pace was always there and that gives me the confidence it will be the case this year too.”

After experiencing so much pain in the past, Leclerc will be looking to make up for lost time and end his Monaco hoodoo with an emotional victory.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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