Charles Leclerc is yet to cross the finish line at his home race in Formula 1. Will 2022 be the year that he finally lifts his home race curse at the Monaco Grand Prix?
Charles Leclerc has made five races starts at Circuit de Monaco in his single-seater racing career. That includes two Formula 2 race starts in 2017 and three Monaco Grand Prix appearances since 2018. The Monegasque driver is yet to reach the end of a race at the circuit.
2017: Double DNF in Formula 2
Leclerc’s first appearance at Circuit de Monaco got off to a good start, with him securing pole position for the Formula 2 Feature Race in 2017. At the start of the race, he built up a decent lead before a Safety Car period on the eighth lap undid his hard work.
Following that, Leclerc set a spate of fastest laps to build up yet another big lead. Leclerc pulled into the pits following another Safety Car, taking the opportunity to make his compulsory stop. However, within a lap of his pit stop, suspension failure prevented him from going any further in the race.
Leclerc was consigned to starting 17th in Saturday’s Sprint Race around the principality. He was unable to make much progress and retired ten laps from the chequered flag with electrical issues.
2018: Monaco Grand Prix debut
One year later, Leclerc embarked on his maiden Formula 1 season with the Sauber team. Becoming the first Monegasque driver to compete at the Monaco Grand Prix since 1994, Leclerc qualified in 14th position for the race.
Leclerc ran outside of the points throughout the race, climbing to 12th place – which is where he sat until Lap 71. The Sauber car developed braking issues over the course of the race. At the exit of the tunnel on Lap 72, Leclerc ran into the rear of Brendon Hartley’s Toro Rosso as a result of his braking issues. Both cars were forced to retire from the race.
2019: First Monaco Grand Prix with Ferrari
Leclerc moved to Ferrari for his second F1 season and hopes were high with him having scored top five results in all of the opening five races of the year. It all looked good heading into qualifying, with Leclerc having set the fastest lap time in the final practice session.
However, Leclerc made a mess of his first flying lap in Q1 with a lock up at Rascasse. He was then not sent out for a second lap, with Ferrari believing his first time would be good enough to reach Q2. That was not the case. Ironically, he was knocked into the drop zone in the closing stages of the session by his team-mate Sebastian Vettel and took no further part in qualifying.
Leclerc started from 15th and immediately set about moving up the order. Despite cutting the first corner, he made his way past Lando Norris’ McLaren at the hairpin before moving by Romain Grosjean at Rascasse. Leclerc then attempted the same move at Rascasse on Nico Hulkenberg but tapped the wall and picked up a puncture. Driving almost the entire lap with a shredded tyre, Leclerc was able to continue – but soon pulled into the pit lane again, this time to retire.
2021: First Monaco Grand Prix pole
The Monaco Grand Prix was off the calendar in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. In 2021, Leclerc took a surprise pole position for the race. He did so despite crashing in the closing stages of Q3 while attempting to set a faster lap time. Somewhat controversially, Leclerc’s crash also prevented any of his rivals from setting faster times.
The extent of damage on Leclerc’s car was deemed to not be too severe and Ferrari opted for Leclerc to start the race without changing his gearbox. However, Leclerc encountered issues on his way to the grid on Sunday. A left driveshaft issue prevented Leclerc from even starting the race, with his pole position grid slot left clear. He became the first polesitter to fail to start a race in over 15 years.
2022: Monaco Historic Grand Prix crash
And so to 2022, where Leclerc is in race-winning machinery once more and looking to complete his home Grand Prix for the first time. Perhaps Leclerc’s bad luck in Monaco has already got itself out of the way this year.
At the Monaco Historic Grand Prix weekend in mid-May, Leclerc took Niki Lauda’s 1974 Ferrari car on a demonstration run on the circuit. Everything was going fine, until the Rascasse corner, where a braking issue saw Leclerc slide rearwards into the barriers.
Home race curses are nothing new in Formula 1. One of the most unlucky drivers at his home event in F1 history is Rubens Barrichello. The Brazilian made 19 starts at Interlagos during his career and failed to finish on 11 occasions.
Should Leclerc finish the Monaco Grand Prix this year, it would be the first time a Monegasque driver has finished their home race since Olivier Beretta finished eighth in 1994. If he scores points, Leclerc will become the first Monegasque driver to score points at the Monaco Grand Prix since Louis Chiron in 1950.
After graduating in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. The blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics.
Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and Motorsport Guides and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast. His work has appeared on WTF1, BadgerGP, motorsport.com, Sky Sports F1 and BBC Radio 5 Live. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast.