How did Charles Leclerc get stuck with his Monaco GP curse?

Another attempt to break the Monaco curse failed for Charles Leclerc, adding yet more pain to this most unwanted of streaks. When will he end the hoodoo?

The Monaco Grand Prix, crown jewel of Formula 1's calendar, proudly boasts one native to represent this Principality when the series rolls into town, but while the fans celebrate Charles Leclerc from the stands, the streets of Monte Carlo have never been as welcoming.

Leclerc's run of misfortune behind the wheel of a racing car in Monaco precedes even his Formula 1 career, and while he arrived in 2022 with a title-challenging Ferrari - his best shot yet at putting this horror story to rest - yet another method emerged to ensure that it continued.

Planet Sport takes you through the saga that is Charles Leclerc's Monaco curse…

The Formula 2 double DNF

Leclerc stormed his way to the Formula 2 title in 2017, but there were no wild scenes of celebration in Monaco that year.

It all started superbly, Leclerc claiming pole and leading during the opening stages. That pretty much guarantees you the win in Monaco if you keep the car out of the walls, right? Well, no.

Leclerc made his compulsory pit stop of the Feature Race when the Safety Car ventured out for the second time, and it was at this point where it all fell apart.

Stopping just after Louis Deletraz and Robert Visiou had crashed, but before the Safety Car was out, Leclerc dropped down to fourth with those who had been pursuing him now ahead as they pitted when the Safety Car was actually deployed.

On the following lap, Leclerc pitted to retire with what turned out to be a suspension failure.

Still, there are two races on a Formula 2 weekend, so all was not lost.

It was, though, when he retired on Lap 20 of 30 in the sprint race with electrical issues.

Monaco F1 debut ends in the back of a Toro Rosso

Leclerc's performances across that title-winning F2 campaign did more than enough to convince Ferrari that their junior driver was ready for Formula 1. As such, he was sent to Sauber for the 2018 season.

His first F1 race in Monaco though was certainly not a season highlight, braking issues sending Leclerc hurtling into the back of Brendon Hartley's Toro Rosso on Lap 72.

Game over for both!

First Monaco Grand Prix as a Ferrari driver

Putting faith in youth was never really Ferrari's style, but they broke the mould for Leclerc, promoting him to one of their race seats for 2019.

In Monaco, Ferrari took the gamble not to send Leclerc out again in the first stage of qualifying, confident that the time which he had on the board was good enough. It was not.

Eliminated in that session and starting from P15, Leclerc was out to prove that you can indeed overtake around Monaco, especially when it feels like you have absolutely nothing to lose. A bit of relative inexperience creeping in there.

By Lap 16 his race was over, Leclerc hitting the wall at Rascasse as he tried to go up the inside of Nico Hulkenberg's Renault. The damage from the resulting right-rear tyre puncture proved to be terminal.

A first F1 pole in Monaco

No 2020 Monaco Grand Prix due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but Formula 1 returned in 2021 and Leclerc was back for another shot at defeating the curse.

Taking pole in his Ferrari was the perfect first step, a surprise pole since the team were not often on the leading pace that season.

His pole was confirmed though in far from ideal fashion, Leclerc crashing on his final qualifying lap, spelling the end of the session for all of his rivals too.

The big question now was, could his Ferrari be repaired without incurring any grid penalties? At first it appeared so, Leclerc was going to start the race at the very front, but disaster struck on his lap to the grid.

It quickly became apparent that all was not right with his Ferrari SF21. The team diagnosed a driveshaft failure, meaning Leclerc did not even get the chance to participate in the race.

When strategy goes wrong in Monaco

Charles Leclerc leads Monaco GP

Now in a Ferrari worthy of challenging for title glory, Leclerc was out to bury the Monaco hoodoo, but also steer his season back on course, having retired with a power unit failure at the previous round in Spain.

Once more Leclerc was on pole, this time Sergio Perez and Leclerc's team-mate Carlos Sainz crashed to confirm it earlier than planned, and with no issues cropping up in the lead up to the race start, all signs were positive.

There had been some reports of rain possibly impacting the race, but Monegasque weather is not the easiest of things to predict. Anyway, it was blue sky earlier that day, surely it wouldn't rain? But it did.

A dampening track shortly before lights out triggered frantic scenes on the grid, a delayed start and then a 45-minute pause as the rain intensified.

Still, the race would get underway on a drying track and Leclerc was leading the way.

But when a track is going from wet to dry, picking the perfect moment to change tyres is key. Confusion reigned though as Ferrari called Leclerc into the pits, only to change their mind when it was too late.

As such, once Leclerc's mistimed pit stop was over, and the bleep machine had finished a thousand's races worth of work in mere seconds, Leclerc was back out onto the track not as the leader, but instead running P4, the position where he finished the race.

What next?

Monaco is yet to secure a new deal to feature on the Formula 1 calendar for 2023.

Leclerc could be excused for wanting to see the back of his home race, but instead, he claims that Formula 1 is not Formula 1 without the Monaco Grand Prix.

So, if the series does return for another year, stay tuned to find out the next chapter of this story, or as Leclerc will be praying for, the final chapter.

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