Leclerc admits it was “very difficult” to manage his emotions on his way to Monaco F1 GP win

Photo Credits: Scuderia Ferrari HP
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Charles Leclerc finally broke his duck around the streets of Monte Carlo and won the race in a place where he grew up as a young kid dreaming of making it to Formula One, with a dominant performance throughout the weekend at the 2024 race guaranteeing him the victory that slipped through his fingers on two occasions previously.

And the Monegasque wasn’t afraid of explaining how the emotions crept up on him, especially on the last few laps of the race, as he was thinking not only about his previous failed attempts of winning the famed race in 2021 and 2022, as well as his family and the whole journey that he’s been through to get to where he is today.

“I feel extremely good. Yeah, I think there’s a lot of things adding to this weekend. First of all, it’s my home Grand Prix,” said Leclerc. “Second, I’ve had two opportunities in the past that I’ve lost, which things that weren’t really in my control. And that was extremely difficult to manage those very difficult moments. And also, you don’t really know whether you are going to get another opportunity to win this race.

“And it’s such a difficult race to win that you don’t know. And I knew there was an opportunity this weekend. And then last, it’s my home race.

“It’s the race that made me dream of becoming a Formula One driver one day. It’s a race that I used to watch with my dad that has done absolutely everything for me to get to where I am today. Our dream was to race here in Monaco in Formula One.

“I did not expect the race to be so difficult to manage emotionally and mentally-wise. I had so many thoughts of the people I have mentioned already in the last 10 laps. And that was very difficult to manage because even though I knew the pace was extremely good, you have to stay on it on a track like this, and it was very, very difficult.

“It was definitely a very, very special moment, a moment I will never forget, I will keep inside me forever.”

Speaking about the race, Leclerc explained how the tyre management he and the front-runners did in the opening stages of the race after the red flag were intentional in order to not only save tyres, but to keep a target gap to George Russell’s Mercedes and avoid a possible pit stop for any of his rivals:

“I think we had a target gap with [George] Russell that we didn’t want to open[it] too much, and I wasn’t pushing straight away and then mistakes can happen, so I just wanted to get into the rhythm and start to push a bit more [in the final laps], but it wasn’t the nicest feeling on the car [having to drive so slowly].

“As a driver you never really know when will be the next opportunity to win. Especially when it’s your home race.

“So I knew that today was another opportunity. I knew how it felt the last two times I was in this position.”

Leclerc referred to 2021 and 2022, on both occasions he set the pole position on Saturday but couldn’t convert it into a race win. The 2021 race saw a gearbox issue causing him to not start the race, and in 2022 a bothed strategy from Ferrari in mixed weather conditions dropped him from first to fourth in the first round of pit stops.

In the end, the Ferrari driver opened up over seven seconds to McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and took the chequered flag comfortably to take his sixth career F1 win and his first at Monaco – but the emotions were still running very high as he crossed the line for his first win of the 2024 season seeing friends and family packing the circuit in several areas:

“I wouldn’t have imagined when I was younger that I would race with Ferrari one day in Monaco and win this race. And that was obviously the ultimate dream right before being world champion, of course.

“But the ultimate dream and the fact that I managed to do that, I felt like I did not only accomplish my own dream, but also the one of my father, the one of my mother as well, that has sustained me in everything I have done since then.

“And that has been an incredibly strong woman when we all lost my dad, my brothers that have always been so supportive with me, my girlfriend, all my family, all my friends. And the special thing about this race is that it’s such a small country that I’ve got everybody here and everybody was around the track. And exit of turn one, I had my best friends in the pits.

“I had my family and everywhere on the track I had friends. And that makes it so incredibly special. So it’s a very, very special moment.”