Monaco Grand Prix Preview: Charles Leclerc Hoping To End Monte Carlo Curse

The Monte Carlo born driver hasn’t finished the Monaco GP in his professional career
14:05, 26 May 2022

The storm clouds are looming over the Cote D’Azur, with rain expected to wash out the streets of Monte Carlo and upset the fans who didn’t pack a coat in their travel cases. The luxurious Monaco Grand Prix returns to our screen for the first time since Max Verstappen emerged victorious last year and became the Drivers Championship points leader for the first time in his career in the process.

Red Bull might be stealing some of the limelight after Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez got a 1-2 in Spain, with ‘Checo’ left unhappy with the team orders he was given on track that kept him from winning the race. Just behind the Austrian energy drink giants in the Constructors’ Championship is Ferrari, where the tension is building for Charles Leclerc to finally have a breakout season that returns the Prancing Horse to where it belongs. 

The Monegasque might be the most successful driver out of the principality of Monaco, but when he races at home he seems to endure a curse that prevents him from finishing races. Starting back in 2017, Charles was smashing fastest laps for breakfast in the Formula Two series at Monaco, until a shaky pit stop saw an insecure tyre fitted to the car and he was unable to finish the race.

A year later, he was in F1 when his Alfa-Romeo failed to stop on lap 70 at the Nouvelle Chicane which led to another DNF. 2019 saw a retirement in the pits after clipping the wall on an overtake of Niko Hulkenburg. In 2021, he wasn’t even given the chance to start after finding the wall before Rascasse. The crash guaranteed him a pole position start but the damage was too great and he had to return to the pits after a reconnaissance lap showed further damage to the driveshaft. 

It’s been horror after horror for Leclerc in his homecoming race, but this weekend could be the one that finally gives him a finish and the highest chance of a win. Leclerc knows the track and proved last year that he can get on pole, even in an inferior machine, so having a car that exceeds any other in terms of cornering and pace should hopefully see him across the line. Although if his performance in Niki Lauda’s classic Ferrari is anything to go by, it’ll be a stressful weekend for Team Scuderia. 

Other than the tale of Charles Leclerc’s unfortunate appearances in Monaco, there is another narrative building ahead of the weekend and that’s that the Circuit de Monaco is difficult to navigate. Triple F1 champion Nelson Piquet described the track as “like trying to cycle around your living room.” 

Back in the days of Piquet, cars didn’t have the same profile as what they do today. 18-inch tyres left exposed through narrow corners can lead to contact between drivers and the cars now are just as wide as they’ve ever been, meaning that overtaking will become nearly impossible this weekend. It’s no longer cycling round your living room, drivers will be navigating their kitchens in a Kia Sportage. 

Rain is expected for Saturday and Sunday, and given the difficulty of overtaking on Sunday, a wet qualifying session will be the peak of the excitement, so don’t forget to tune in.

Expect to see safety cars on Sunday, and qualifying will be hotly fought for between Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari now that the Silver Arrows have regained their form. George Russell is still yet to finish outside of the top five of a race, and Max Verstappen is still yet to lose a race in which he has finished. 

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