Can Charles Leclerc end the curse of the F1 Monaco Grand Prix in 2023?
Charles Leclerc’s bad luck at his home race, the Monaco Grand Prix, has become a Formula One legend.
Leclerc saw three golden opportunities to win the famous event that slipped through his fingers. The Ferrari superstar was born and raised in Monte Carlo, one of the nine counties that make up the Principality of Monaco. As a child, he took the bus to school from a stop at the last corner of the city’s famous street race.
But Monaco’s pet has never won or stood on the podium. Heartbreak seems to follow Leclerc across the streets of his hometown and he has only finished once in four F1 attempts, and two more Formula 2 races earlier in his career.
“I don’t believe too much in luck, but it’s true that when you look at the records, it’s not always easy on race day,” he said Thursday ahead of this weekend’s race.
The causes for Leclerc’s bad luck were mixed. Although Ferrari’s questionable strategy calls have been blamed for two of the incidents on this list, a major Leclerc mistake in 2021 has kept the curse alive.
So why is Leclerc’s luck so bad? And can he reverse ‘Lecurse’ in 2023?
2017: Double DNF
Leclerc’s poor performance in the Principality began with a dominant Formula 2 championship season. After beating Alex Albon for the top spot, Leclerc took the lead to start Saturday’s feature race, only to be overtaken by a mid-race safety car sending him down to spot. Wednesday. Then a mechanical problem forced him to retire and meant he started his Sunday sprint from the 17th. Progress in the narrow street was difficult and after a crash touches Norman Nato, he retires again.
It was a rare weekend off for Leclerc – his F2 season is considered by many to be one of the most impressive in the F1 feeder series in recent history.
2018: Double DNF
Now a F1 rookie with Alfa Romeo, Leclerc impressed when he pulled his car into Q2 and overtook teammate Marcus Ericsson. It’s always been hard for the machines to finish at the top but Leclerc was denied the finish when his left front brake failed while running in 12th place with six laps remaining causing him to drive behind Brendon Hartley by Toro Rosso.
2019: Ferrari qualifying mistake wreaks havoc on weekend
Leclerc, promoted to Ferrari for 2019, arrived at the Monaco Grand Prix for the second time with a very real chance of winning. Ferrari’s early-season form was good and Leclerc would have won the Bahrain Grand Prix had it not been for the late engine trouble. Leclerc has been a breakout star in the opening races and has never finished outside the top five since joining Ferrari.
Leclerc topped the final practice session on Saturday but qualifying quickly broke down. Ferrari is confident that the time Leclerc puts in at the beginning of Q1 will be enough to get him up to Q2 – it is not. In the final minutes, Leclerc’s name dropped the order – with his car in the garage, he was powerless to stop himself from falling into the disqualification void. Starting on the 16th, a Leclerc caught fire overtook Lando Norris and Romain Grosjean early on but collided with Nico Hulkenberg at Rascasse, injuring his race.
2021: Win the pole, don’t start
Easily the toughest of all Leclerc’s defeats at Monaco, as he took pole position but then made an unwarranted error that kept him from starting the race. After Ferrari’s winless 2020, Leclerc is in fine form as F1 returns to the Principality in 2021 after being canceled because of Covid-19 the previous year.
Heartbreak will take place again in the qualifiers, but this time the fault can be blamed on Leclerc. Having gone fastest in Q1 and Q2, Leclerc set up a fastest time in early Q3 to temporarily put himself on the front foot. As is customary, he went out again at the end of the session to try to set the time even faster, only to hit the wall on the inside of the mysterious swimming pool. The impact broke the Ferrari’s right front suspension and sent his car crashing into a wall at the exit of the corner.
Ferrari chose not to change the Leclerc’s gearbox as a precaution, something that could result in a five-tier grid penalty. On the first lap out of the garage on Sunday, while en route to the grid, Leclerc’s Ferrari stalled and stalled with what was later revealed to be a damaged transmission shaft.
2022: Ferrari makes a mistake when it loses its pole advantage
Leclerc finally looked to have ended his curse last year, after qualifying at the turret and avoiding a repeat of the 2021 mistake that kept him from starting. Despite the delayed start due to the rain, things were going perfectly for Leclerc as he led the opening 17 laps, only when Ferrari’s strategic failures were once again exposed.
As the track dried up, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez took the initiative and pitted the intermediate tire in Round 17. Leclerc and Ferrari waited two more laps to do the same but Sainz was out until Round 21. , when he switched straight from a wet tire to a dry tire. If Ferrari had done that with Leclerc’s car, he’d most likely have kept the lead.
However, when he moves into middleweight like Perez, he still needs to pit again. Two extra laps on that tire proved to be a winning moment in the race for the Mexican driver and when he and Leclerc had switched to the soft tire, Red Bull took the lead.
By the time everything is done, the order is Perez, Sainz, Max Verstappen, Leclerc, that’s how they will stay until the end. Leclerc had a couple of desperate looks at the gaps on either side of Verstappen’s car in the final laps but was unable to get through.
Leclerc later said he had “no words” to express his feelings afterwards.
Can he end the curse in 2023?
On the basis of the opening five races, Leclerc is more likely to win this year than in 2019, 2021 or 2022. But the tight and zigzag Monaco lap often eliminates the big performance difference between the two. vehicles and is likely to reduce some of the huge advantage that Red Bull has had this year.
Monaco’s race is notoriously low-pass and Leclerc is considered by many to be the best qualifying passer in Formula One. As of now, Ferrari’s car has come a lot closer to Red Bull on a lap this year — Leclerc won pole at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, also held on the street, on April.
The third straight post for Leclerc would put him in a great position to finally end the bad luck around his hometown streets.
Red Bull certainly feels like Ferrari has a chance to win on Sunday.
When asked who is Red Bull’s toughest opponent this weekend, last year’s race winner, Perez said: “I think Fernando [Alonso]Ferraris, I really expect them to be pretty strong too, like in Baku.
“Obviously after one lap around this place, they’ll be strong. So yeah, I’d really expect them to be pretty strong.”