Why the ‘Monaco Curse’ still haunts Charles Leclerc
Written by James Harding, Edited by Alexandra Campos
Since 2017, Monégasque Charles Leclerc has been haunted by the so-called ‘Monaco Curse’. Stretching right back to his successful days in Formula 2, Leclerc has been inundated with an abundance of torrid luck in his hometown.
Driving for Prema Racing in Formula 2 in 2017, Leclerc achieved pole position on home soil for the Feature Race, ahead of future stars such as Alex Albon, and Nyck de Vries. Leclerc was comfortably leading in Monte Carlo, but his team fitted an insecure tyre on his mandatory pit-stop, forcing him to pit again. Then his car faced mechanical issues, resulting in the home driver retiring from the race, and preventing him from winning his first ever race in Monaco.
In his debut season in Formula 1, Leclerc was driving with Alfa Romeo Sauber. He was doing an adequate job in P12 behind New Zealander Brendan Hartley. After squaring up an opportunity to overtake the Kiwi, his left front brake disc failed just before the Nouvelle Chicane, prompting Leclerc to collide with the back of the Toro Rosso driver’s car. Consequently, Leclerc and Hartley were forced to retire.
Leclerc’s first home race for Ferrari saw him being knocked out of Q1. In the race however, he was gradually making his way through the pack. By lap nine, he found himself in P12, behind Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault. Leclerc was evidently becoming agitated, so he made an audacious dive down the inside of Hulkenberg at Rascasse. He made contact with the wall, provoking a rear-right tyre puncture. He subsequently sustained floor damage, resulting in another retirement for the Monégasque.
Despite crashing out in the dying stages of Q3, Leclerc put his Ferrari on pole-position for his home race. However, the crash caused lasting damage to his gearbox. And on his reconnaissance lap to the grid, the extent of the issue became apparent, thus meaning that he could not start the race.
May 15th: Leclerc crashed Niki Lauda’s 1974 Ferrari at Rascasse in the 2022 Monaco Historic Grand Prix due to another brake failure. After the race, Leclerc tweeted: “When you thought you already had all the bad luck of the world in Monaco and you lose the brakes into Rascasse with one of the most iconic historical Ferrari Formula 1 car”.
May 29th: Leclerc put his Ferrari on pole for the second year running, ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. On a rain soaked Sunday in Monte Carlo, we had to wait for over an hour to see green flag racing. Leclerc maintained the lead of the race until lap 22, but Ferrari’s pit strategy failed, accompanied with a miscommunication over the team radio. This stimulated Red Bull obtaining the opportunity to perform the overcut on both Ferrari drivers. Sergio Perez went on to win the race, from Sainz, Verstappen, and Leclerc in fourth. After the race, Leclerc told F1 that it was “a freaking disaster…the win was clearly in our hands: we had the performance, we had everything.” An almost certain victory on home soil for Leclerc was on the cards, but Ferrari prevented it from happening with a strategy blunder.