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Leclerc assesses Monaco chances as he chases elusive first victory on home soil

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 23: Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari looks on in the Paddock during

Charles Leclerc hopes this year’s Monaco Grand Prix will finally deliver the victory he has been craving after experiencing a rollercoaster ride around his home streets of Monte Carlo in previous seasons.

Leclerc’s misfortune in the Principality stretches back to his F2 days, with a promising debut appearance at the track back in 2017 – which saw him claim pole position and lead the early stages of the Feature Race – ruined by pit stop drama.

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After that, his first F1 race at home in 2018 was ended by a brake failure; in 2019, he was knocked out in Q1 and picked up terminal damage while fighting through the field; and in 2021, he failed to make the start of the race due to a driveshaft issue, having taken pole but crashed the day before.

There was further heartache in 2022 when a pit stop error cost him a shot at victory, while any hopes he had of winning last season were effectively ended by a post-qualifying penalty for impeding Lando Norris that dropped him from third to sixth on the grid.

However, ahead of what will be his sixth home event as an F1 driver, Leclerc is hopeful that he can right the wrongs of previous weekends and put himself in the mix for what would be a breakthrough result.

2022 Monaco Grand Prix: Leclerc furious as Ferrari and Red Bull double stack pit stops drop him from first to fourth

“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “We’ve always been competitive here, so I hope it will be just the same this weekend. However, the [end result] of the weekend hasn’t ever been the one I wanted.

“We have worked a lot, we have done our preparation in the best possible way, and I hope that this weekend will be a good one.”

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With his best result at home coming in 2022, when he finished fourth, Leclerc was then asked how much even a podium finish would mean in front of his family and friends.

“Not much, not much,” he replied. “I mean, second or third is not really something that excites me. The win is what we need to target.

“We’ve seen in the last few races that Red Bull, McLaren and ourselves are pretty close in qualifying, and we know how important qualifying is here, so we’ll have to put everything together. If we are on pole then that will give us good chances to get what we want, which is a win.”

IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Third placed Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari celebrates on the podium

Leclerc has scored four podium finishes from seven races so far this season

Pushed on his chances of getting that all-important pole, Leclerc continued: “I feel like in Monaco you always start a little bit from scratch. As much as what we’ve seen in the few races, I think it won’t be too different.

“There still can be some surprises; we’ve seen it in 2021, I think, with us, where we were nowhere but then we got to Monaco and our car was working very well.

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“We’ll have to see after Friday [practice] where we are compared to the others, but I would be surprised if we are not in the mix for pole at least.”

Leclerc holds second in the drivers’ standings after the opening seven rounds of the season, 48 points down on championship leader Max Verstappen, while Ferrari are Red Bull’s nearest rivals in the constructors’ battle – sitting 56 points adrift.

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