Will luck finally smile at him at home? Monegasque Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) will try on Sunday to win the Monaco GP to take over the reins of the Formula 1 championship in a round he has never finished in the premier category.
The Scuderia driver, dominating in the general classification since the beginning of the season, was surprised last weekend in Spain by a mechanical problem while he was leading the race by a wide margin.
Forced to retire, he lost the championship lead to defending champion Max Verstappen.
Far from disassembling, Leclerc quickly evacuated his disappointment by recalling that “the season is still long”: “We know that we have the potential.”
The 24-year-old driver will try to display his potential again at the 7th round of the season this weekend.
But for that, will it still be necessary to complete the 78 laps through streets that he knows so well. “I hope I can finally finish this Grand Prix at home,” he said in Spain.
“Finally,” because the Monegasque has always had to give up since 2017 after technical problems or clashes.
If it was in Formula 2, the antechamber of the elite, or in F1 in 2018 (with the Sauber team), then in 2019, for his first season with Ferrari.
Last year (the 2020 edition was canceled due to the pandemic), Leclerc, who qualified in the lead position, finally had to bring his Ferrari back to the pit because of a technical problem.
So far, the season has offered very tough clashes at the front, as evidenced by the world championship standings.
Among the drivers, Verstappen is ahead of Leclerc by six points, and among the manufacturers, Red Bull has taken a slight advantage (26 pts) over Ferrari thanks to its double podium in Spain.
Behind the leading teams, Mercedes, third and in difficulty at the beginning of the season with the arrival of the brand new technical regulations, seems to have regained color in Spain after making a lot of improvements on its single-seaters.
“It’s only a matter of time before they join this battle,” Red Bull boss Christian Horner acknowledged.
However, the Monaco GP, A historical event in F1, could see Mercedes deprived of its seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton due to… his jewels.
While the ban on wearing jewelry on single-seaters was introduced in 2005 as a safety measure, it was never really enforced by drivers – until the tightening of screws was decided this season by the new racing director of the Federation International de l’Automobile (FIA), Niels Wittich.
At the beginning of May, on the occasion of the Miami GP, the British driver received an exemption until the Monaco GP complied with the regulations. But Hamilton says he won’t be able to remove some of his jewelry, like his nose piercing.
New this year in the Principality, the race will take place over three consecutive days, like all the others on the calendar, and no longer over four days as was the case according to tradition.
Historically, the Monaco GP, present during the first year of the F1 World Championship in 1950, was organized during the Ascension weekend.
Thursday is a public holiday; this day was chosen to run the single-seaters before a break on Friday, then qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday.
This singularity was maintained until now, even if the GP was not organized every time at Ascension.
This weekend, Monaco also hopes to regain its former fervor after two years disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic that saw the GP canceled in 2020 and sparse grandstands the following year.
For a victory of its local star? The third driver in history to represent the Principality in F1, Leclerc hopes to imitate Louis Chiron, the only Monegasque to have won on the Rock.
This was in 1931, long before the introduction of the World Championship.