In a few days, Formula 1 will be returning to perhaps the most iconic event on the calendar. There has never been any doubt over the prestige of the Monaco GP, even though there have been numerous on the quality of racing especially in recent years, with many calling it ‘the grand procession’. Being a street circuit, changes to the track range from hard to impossible, which means that to improve racing there, you likely need to change the cars to fit the circuit.
In most cases, the driver that puts his car on top of the grid order is in a supreme position for the race on Sunday. Barring human error, changes in weather conditions, or some other heroics, it is usually unlikely that the driver will lose his spot. As such, this is likely good news for Ferrari, who have been supreme in qualifying this season, especially Charles Leclerc, who has started on pole position for 4 of the 6 races of this season.
Moreover, the straight-line speed disadvantage seems to have been cut down in Spain. However, straight-line speed will not matter so much in Monaco, and Ferrari have usually preferred to run higher downforce setups this season. This seems to bode well for Ferrari, but there are other factors at play.
“Ferrari always has it right in qualifying. Red Bull is very good and Mercedes has been catching up strongly. In Monaco, there are also laws of their own. You can’t try everything on the first lap. I hope for Charles that he can get rid of his curse a bit.”
Aside from Ferrari, Philipp Eng was also impressed by Mercedes’ improvement in Spain.
Ferrari seemed to be the better car in Spain, and much more competitive with the Red Bull than in the previous two races. However, that promise came to naught by the end, because Charles Leclerc had to retire from the lead after looking supreme all weekend, and Carlos Sainz, after being caught out by a gust of wind, was running with floor damage for the vast majority of the race, with him stating that his laps were a second slower than what he could have done without it. He eventually finished in 4th place, and Ferrari and Charles Leclerc were overtaken in their respective championships.
Can Leclerc break his curse at home?
Charles Leclerc has NEVER finished his home race in Formula 1. He has always been either forced to retire or like last year, has not started at all.
In his first season in Formula 1 with Sauber, Leclerc started 14th. Then on lap 72, he collided with Brendon Hartley just before the Nouvelle Chicane, when his left front brake disc failed. This meant both drivers had to retire from the race.
After being promoted to Ferrari for the 2019 season, Leclerc surprisingly only started 16th in his home race, after Ferrari elected to not send him out again to save tires. During the race, after climbing to 12th, he touched the inside wall at turn 17 while trying to overtake Nico Hulkenberg, which gave him a puncture on his right rear tire. This tire later completely fell apart, and forced him to retire from the race.
In 2021, perhaps most famously, Leclerc put himself in pole position but later crashed his car in qualifying. He had topped both Q2 and Q3, and was in 2nd in Q1. The damage from his crash meant he would not start the race, because of driveshaft issues.
Then, earlier this month, he crashed Niki Lauda’s 1974 Ferrari due to a brake failure.
Charles Leclerc would certainly hope for better fortune at Monaco this weekend, and to turn it around and regain the lead of the championship. The only way he can overtake Verstappen would be to win the race unless Verstappen gets the fastest lap point. Leclerc is currently 2nd in the championship, 6 points behind Max Verstappen. Carlos Sainz is 5th, and Ferrari are 2nd in the championship, 26 points behind Red Bull.