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Catching up with Formula One: Canada

Written by Sofia Costantino, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri 

It’s been a long time coming, a childhood dream finally came true on the iconic and legendary streets of Monaco. The local, ‘il predestinato’ Charles Leclerc, triumphed at the Monaco Grand Prix, becoming the first Monegasque to climb to the top of the podium in his backyard since Louis Chiron did so in 1931, in a Bugatti T51.

Image credits: Motorsport images

Of the many racers who have been residents of the Mediterranean tax haven, Leclerc and Chiron have been the only ones who grew up in the principality, pushed and motivated by their parents, not even in the category of the usual millionaires that thicken the list of more than a third of the almost 40,000 inhabitants of the area, spread across just 2.08 square km of the French Riviera. 

Leclerc was able to develop his innate speed, mainly in karting by the family of his great friend Jules Bianchi, whom he tragically lost on the road, in a disastrous accident at Suzuka a decade ago, when he collided with a crane near the track. 

It was reminiscent of an accident that had already occurred once in 1994 with Martin Brundle (without those serious consequences) and almost again in the same manner 28 years later, in 2022 with Pierre Gasly.

To reach this emotional victory, the Monegasque had to go through the loss of his father Hervé, when he was on the rise to the top category and was trying to offer him the victory at home in F2 in 2017, but he would lose to a mechanical failure of his car while leading it.

Later, once he’d stepped up to Formula One, he had to suffer the tragic event of losing another of his teammates (in F3) and friend, “the brother of his dreams” Anthoine Hubert, in an accident in the F2 race at Spa-Francorchamps in 2019, a race he would win, and later dedicate to the Gallic driver.

Image credits: Motorsport images

It was also not easy to achieve victory in his backyard either, taking him six attempts, first with Sauber in 2018 and then with Ferrari. 

The local favourite for pole and victory in his first year with the Prancing Horse in 2019, did not make it through Q1 due to a miscalculation late in the session, while the others improved their time. In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic did not run away. 

In 2021, he crashed and broke a rear semi-axle in qualifying, trying to improve on his time. His car was repaired to allow him to start from pole, but he would not make it to the grid at all, his gearbox giving up on the lap to the grid. In 2022, starting from pole, a strategic mistake by his team brought him only fourth, after he comfortably led. 

In 2023, no one was able to match Max Verstappen, but Leclerc’s dream was finally fulfilled in 2024, giving the almost 10,000 nationals plenty to cheer about, together with the horde of visitors that fill the spaces of the small principality every year, home to the most glamorous motoring event in the world.

Image credits: Motorsport images

The great celebration did not prevent the GP from being a real procession, with an average speed of 109 km/h, in the end. The previous Monegasque to win, Louis Chiron managed an average speed of 86.4 km/h back in 1931.

A Red Flag with a 40-minute interruption due to an accident on the first lap that eliminated Sergio Pérez, with his Red Bull RB20 destroyed by a contact going up towards the Casino with both Haas racers Magnussen and Hulkenberg too out. 

The mishap, and the ensuing red flag, allowed Leclerc (contrary to his nickname Charles L’Eclair = the Lightning Charles) to impose an ultra-slow pace, without the possibility of overtaking or possible strategies for changing tyres, with drivers having fulfilled the mandatory tyre change. 

Along with that, thanks to the Red Bull and Haas crash on lap one, Carlos Sainz got to keep his third position, helping Charles all the way to win, achieving the much-awaited podium.

Image credits: Motorsport images

The top 10 finished as they started, with the two McLarens amidst the Ferraris, and a Mercedes, always ahead of a frustrated Max Verstappen, who started and finished in sixth place, also losing the chance to establish a record of more consecutive poles (which remained level with Ayrton Senna in eight) and allowing a closer approach to their leadership and that of Red Bull, like never before.

Perhaps, in his post-race statements, one of the most interesting facts was the possible reason for Red Bull's poor performance on this type of circuit. 

As explained by the reigning three-champion, the excessive rigidity of the suspension of the RB20 makes it the most similar to a go-kart, without damping and that the pass over the kerbs destabilised the single-seater in such a way that it makes it very difficult to handle on the smooth street surfaces. 

It was a problem not visible earlier due to the superiority and difference of a few tenths to the rest, but now more notorious and important with the approach of the competition.

Image credits: Motorsport images

Therefore, it is very likely that we will once again witness the superiority of Red Bull and Max Vestappen on the classic and fast circuits, such as Montmeló, Red Bull Ring, Silverstone, Spa, etc. 

But not, on the next track in Canada, the Montreal track being fast, but with many slow curves that require taking plenty of kerbs for a good lap time, which again could put Verstappen and Sergio Pérez at a disadvantage, without the confidence to attack the track. 

With Leclerc being only 31 points away from first place in the drivers championship, we are looking for a very interesting season ahead of us.

As for Monaco's future, making the track quicker seems unfeasible. But if, according to George Russell, racing with soft tires that prevent more than 20-30 laps, in order to induce more strategy in the race, it could liven up the race altogether. 

A dispensation that is otherwise already given to the track, with races running for 260 km, instead of the stipulated 305 km by the sporting regulations of Formula One.

For the time being, the Princes of Monaco are still celebrating…

Image credits: Motorsport images


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