Has Leclerc ignited F1 title race with ‘dream’ Monaco win?

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Has Leclerc ignited F1 title race with ‘dream’ Monaco win?

Charles Leclerc’s stunning win at the Monaco Grand Prix could be seen as a big moment in the season and the race where an F1 title race ignited.

Leclerc was dominant on home soil as he converted pole position into a sixth career F1 win, his first since the Austrian Grand Prix in July 2022.

With Max Verstappen finishing down in sixth, Leclerc reduced his deficit to the Red Bull driver to 31 points after eight events, which raises the question of whether a title race will emerge.

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Ferrari took 32 points out of Red Bull in Monaco after Carlos Sainz took third and Sergio Perez crashed out, so they trail the reigning world champions by 24 points in the constructors’ championship.

Leclerc says he’s not thinking about the championship yet and was keen to celebrate Ferrari’s second win of the season, paying tribute to his father who died in 2017.

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Charles Leclerc is over-the-moon after his childhood dream of winning at home in Monaco comes true.

“It’s an amazing feeling. I’ve always said Monaco would have an added value emotionally but I did not expect it to be that much,” he told Sky Sports F1.

“Two to three laps from the end I got out of the tunnel and I was struggling to see because my eyes were starting to cry a little bit!

“I was like ‘come on Charles, you cannot afford to do that now. You have two or three laps to do’. Then I was fine again. Then crossing the line, I was so incredibly happy. It means so much to me.

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Charles Leclerc lifts the curse of winning in his home town of Monaco.

“It’s the race I have dreamt of winning since being a child. I got the passion for racing from this race, together with my father, who did everything for me to get there.

“My mum was there under the podium, along with my brother, girlfriend and friends. Everyone is here which makes it so special.”

Vasseur: Monaco win will help Leclerc confidence

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Fred Vasseur says it was a long race to manage but is ‘more than happy for Charles’ Leclerc after his home victory in Monaco for Ferrari.

Leclerc was outperformed in the early part of the season by Sainz but he’s started and finished ahead of his Ferrari team-mate in the last four events.

The 26-year-old is seen by many in the paddock as the fastest driver over one lap and he showed that in Monaco in qualifying on a track where the driver can make a big difference.

Team principal Frederic Vasseur says Leclerc has a “weight lifted off his shoulders” now he’s won his home race.

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Highlights of the Monaco Grand Prix.

“I think one of the characteristics of the winners is also that they are used to win at one stage and they have the confidence to manage the situation,” Vasseur added.

“Even when something happens they have the self-confidence, ‘it’s okay, that I will manage it next time’. When you are in doubt, it’s a big difference and I think from this one, you will do a step forward for sure.

“I think this one will help him a lot, for sure, in terms of confidence.”

F1 drivers' championship after Monaco GP

Image: F1 drivers’ championship after Monaco GP

F1 constructors' championship after Monaco GP

Image: F1 constructors’ championship after Monaco GP

Ferrari putting Red Bull under pressure

Ferrari challenged Red Bull for the title in the first half of 2022 before their championship hopes faded away as they were outdeveloped and made mistakes.

Leclerc and Verstappen have gone head-to-head throughout their careers, first in karting, then in F1, with many memorable battles.

Vasseur suggests Red Bull will make errors if Ferrari and McLaren continue to push them hard in the coming races.

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Watch onboard as Charles Leclerc takes pole position in Monaco.

“I don’t want to draw any conclusions on this weekend, but if you have a look on the last two or three weekends, I think Max made more mistakes in Imola or went out more in Imola than over the last three seasons,” said Vasseur.

“I think that as soon as they have to push more, if you stay in your comfort zone for the strategy, you don’t do mistakes and I think they were in this situation.

“Now we don’t have to draw any conclusion that I think they will be back, they will be back soon and they will be strong,” he continued. “I’m not considering at all that everything will be easy until the end.”

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Charles Leclerc runs to celebrate his first home win in Monaco with the Ferrari team.

Sainz, who missed the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix due to appendix surgery in March, sits in fourth place in the drivers’ championship and is 62 points adrift of Verstappen.

Sainz thinks Ferrari are on par with McLaren but still “one or two tenths” off Red Bull on permanent circuits that are not street tracks.

“I think Ferrari we will have our opportunities in these sort of tracks (street circuits). I think McLaren will have their opportunities, but when I talk about a normal track we can talk about maybe a Barcelona,” said Sainz.

“Canada, I think is quite specific but a Barcelona or any European truck, where I consider it to be a normal track, I still think Red Bull will be favourites, but I don’t think they’ll dominate like they used to do.

“And I think that’s good news for the championship. It’s just worth being within a tenth or two in qualy, that even if they’re favourites, they cannot afford to do any mistakes. And that’s where both Ferrari and McLaren, we can capitalise, which is a position that in Bahrain, no one was there to be there.”

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Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz reflects on all the big talking points from the Monaco Grand Prix.

Impact of Vasseur at Ferrari

At the start of 2023, Vasseur took over Mattia Binotto as Ferrari team principal and has made a positive impact on F1’s most famous outfit.

Vasseur made changes to the Ferrari strategy team and most recently decided to change Leclerc’s race engineer from Xavier ‘Xavi’ Marcos Padros to Bryan Bozzi.

Leclerc, who worked with Vasseur in his debut F1 campaign in Sauber in 2018, lauded his team boss and the confidence he’s given Ferrari.

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Martin Brundle bumps into some of the big music and film stars on the grid walk at Monaco.

“I think since the first day he joined, he’s got everything to bring back the team to where it belongs and that means to a world championship,” said Leclerc.

“He’s got such a clear vision of what he wants to achieve and how to achieve it. He doesn’t lose time and that is definitely his strength and I think his vision is really good.

“We share it very often, on how he wants to achieve those targets. I’ve always been completely aligned with the way he wants to change things to get to where we want to get. I have no doubt that he’s the right person and that he’s helping the team to get there.”

Formula 1 leaves Europe for the final time before the summer break as the championship moves on to Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix. Watch every session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve from June 7-9 live on Sky Sports F1, with Sunday’s race at 7pm. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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