Charles Leclerc took an emotional Monaco Grand Prix win to become the first Monegasque driver to win his home race in the history of the Formula 1 championship. The Ferrari driver put in a controlled performance on the streets of his home town to finish ahead of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz at the end of a race largely defined by an explosive crash on the opening lap that removed Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez and the Haas cars of Nico Hülkenberg from the race. Elsewhere, championship leader Max Verstappen finished in sixth place.

“No words can explain that,” Leclerc said after the race. “It’s such a difficult race, I think the fact that twice I’ve been starting on pole and I couldn’t make it makes it a lot better.

“It was a difficult race emotionally, because already 15 laps from the end you’re hoping nothing happens. I was thinking a lot more to my dad than a lot more when I was driving. At first, we had quite a lot of margin but there was 78 laps to do. There was a big portion of the race where I had to manage the gap with George, but then I could push a lot more.”

When the lights went out at the start, pole-sitter Leclerc got away well to lead the field into Sainte-Devote. Behind him, McLaren’s Oscar Piastri was put under pressure by Carlos Sainz and as the pair went into Turn 1, Piastri clipped Sainz’s left-front tyre. Nursing a puncture, Sainz was forced to take the escape road as they went into Casino Square.

Further back, chaos was unfolding. Starting from 16th on the grid, Pérez started slowly and was swamped by both Haas drivers, who had made good starts after being relegated to the back row following disqualification from qualifying due to rear wing infringements.

On the run up the hill, Pérez moved to the middle of the track to defend his position. Behind him, to his left, Nico Hülkenberg back away from any challenge but on the right, Kevin Magnussen tried to push past. He clipped Pérez’s right rear wheel and the Mexican was pitched into a violent collision with the barriers and then both Haas cars.

Thanks to the strength of the survival cell and the wheel tethers, the Red Bull driver was able to quickly climb out of the wrecked tub but with debris scattered over a long stretch of the track, and with another incident occurring at Portier as the Alpines of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon clashed, the race was immediately red flagged. Ocon was later handed a 10-second time penalty for colliding with his team-mate, a sanction that will be converted to a five-place grid drop next time out in Montreal.

After an almost 45-minute delay the race resumed with a standing start and in the original order, with Sainz lucky to have another opportunity to race. The red flags also provided an opportunity to switch tyres, and targeting a long run to the finish, the front four moved to Hard tyres. Behind them, Hard tyre-starters George Russell and Max Verstappen were forced to switch to Mediums for the new start.

When the lights went out, the pack all got away cleanly and Leclerc took the lead ahead of the front runners who lined up in starting order.

The Monegasque driver quickly settled into a rhythm ahead of Piastri, Sainz and Norris. Further back, though, Russell was heavily managing his Medium tyres and he drifted to six seconds behind fourth-placed Norris.

The Mercedes driver’s slow pace meant that for McLaren the tantalising prospect of a gap large enough to pit and drop into began to come into view. It meat that Leclerc began to managed his pace, backing the field up to keep them in touch with Russell.

The race then became a cat-and-mouse contest as The Ferraris backed the McLarens toward Russell, while the Mercedes driver tried to preserve his tyres and keep Verstappen at bay.

At the end of lap 51, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who had a healthy gap back to RB’s Yuki Tsunoda, pitted from seventh and rejoined in the same position. That freed Red Bull to pit Verstappen and after a 2.1s stop for Hard tyres he again took up sixth place ahead Hamilton. With fresh tyres onboard Verstappen began to rattle off fastest laps and he closed on Russell quickly enough to deny the Mercedes driver a pit stop in response. Russell was forced to respond to the Dutchman’s pace and that in turn closed the window for McLaren to take on new tyres and potentially pressure the Ferraris at the finish.

Leclerc settled into management mode and after 78 laps the Ferrari driver took the chequered flag to become the first Monegasque driver in the championship era to win his home grand prix seven seconds clear of Piastri with Sainz taking the final podium position just behind the Australian.

Norris took fourth ahead of Russell, Verstappen and Hamilton, while Tsunoda took a solid eighth place. Behind them, Alex Albon took Williams’ first points of the season with ninth place and Gasly recovered after his early collision to finish tenth and take the final point on offer.

Position
Driver
Team
Gap/Laps
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari Leader
2 Oscar Piastri McLaren +7.152
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +7.585
4 Lando Norris McLaren +8.650
5 George Russell Mercedes +13.309
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing +13.853
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +14.908
8 Yuki Tsunoda RB1 1 L
9 Alexander Albon Williams 1 L
10 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1 L
11 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 2 L
12 Daniel Ricciardo RB2 2 L
13 Valtteri Bottas Kick Sauber 2 L
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 2 L
15 Logan Sargeant Williams 2 L
16 Guanyu Zhou Kick Sauber 2 L
17 Esteban Ocon Alpine
18 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing
19 Nico Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team
20 Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team

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