Will luck finally smile upon him at home? Charles Leclerc, if the Monaco Grand Prix is played at home has not smiled on him. He will attempt to win the world championship from Max Vertappen.
The Monegasque, who had been dominating the general classification since the beginning of the season was shocked last weekend in Spain by an unexpected mechanical problem. He was leading the race largely because of this. He was forced to retire and lost the title to the Dutch champion.
He will still need to complete the 78 laps on the streets he is familiar with to win the seventh round. He whispered in Spanish, "I hope that I can finish this Grand Prix at Home."
"Finally" is because Monegasque had to abandon his pursuits every year since 2017, despite technical difficulties or clashes. In Formula 2, 2017, the antechamber for the elite, and in F1 2018, with the Sauber team, then in 2019, for the first season with Ferrari. Leclerc qualified in pole position last year, but the 2020 edition was cancelled due to pandemic. His Ferrari had to be brought back to the pits because of a technical issue.
The season has seen some tough clashes between the frontrunners so far. Mercedes seems to be in trouble, despite Red Bull and Ferrari claiming the lead (only six points separate Verstappen and Leclerc).
Red Bull boss Christian Horner said, "It's only the matter of time until they join this fight,"
This year, the race will be held over three consecutive days like the rest of the calendar and not over four days like it was in the past. The Ascension weekend has allowed drivers to drive on Thursdays, a public holiday. They then take a break on Friday and qualify on Saturday, prior to the Grand Prix on Sunday. Even though the GP was not held every time at Ascension, this singularity has been maintained.
Monaco hopes to regain its old fervor this weekend after two years of being disrupted in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw the GP cancelled in 2020 and few stands the year following.
For a home star win? Leclerc is the third driver to represent the Principality of F1 in history. He hopes to imitate Louis Chiron who was the only Monegasque ever to win on the Rock. It happened in 1931, well before the creation of the World Championship.
The program: Saturday: Free practice 3 (1 p.m.), qualifying at 4:45 p.m. Sunday, race at 3:00 p.m.