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Leclerc overjoyed with breakthrough Monaco win as he says previous heartache made success ‘even better’

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 26: Race winner Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari celebrates in parc

Charles Leclerc was initially left speechless after achieving the Monaco Grand Prix victory he had been craving with a cool, calm and collected drive around his home streets on Sunday afternoon.

Leclerc, who claimed pole for the 2021 and 2022 events, only for victory to slip through his fingers via technical problems and pit stop issues, made it third time lucky by righting the wrongs of those previous near-misses.

READ MORE: Leclerc clinches long-awaited home win in Monaco ahead of Piastri and Sainz after early drama

Having aced the all-important qualifying session, Leclerc avoided opening-lap drama and mastered the race restart to retain his P1 advantage, before managing the gap back to McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and Ferrari team mate Carlos Sainz.

Asked how he felt after taking the chequered flag and stepping out of the car, Leclerc said: “No words can explain that… It’s such a difficult race, I think the fact that twice I’ve been starting on pole position and we couldn’t quite make it makes it even better in a way.

“It means a lot, obviously. It’s the race that made me dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver one day. It was a difficult race emotionally because already 15 laps to the end you’re just hoping that nothing happens, already the emotions were coming.”

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At this point, Leclerc said memories of his late father came flooding back, with Herve – himself a former racing driver who supported Charles’s journey – having passed away midway through his title-winning F2 campaign in 2017.

“I have to say that I was thinking to my dad a lot more than what I thought while driving,” Leclerc continued. “Obviously he’s given everything for me to be here, and it was a dream of ours for me to race here and to win, so it’s unbelievable.”

READ MORE: Ocon to take five-place grid drop at Canadian GP after dramatic first-lap clash with team mate Gasly in Monaco

While qualifying is crucial at the tight and twisty Monte Carlo venue, given the lack of overtaking opportunities on race day, Leclerc made clear that he still had to work hard throughout the 78-lap encounter.

“It’s really difficult,” he reflected. “At first I thought we were… I mean, we had quite a lot of margin [with the pace], but we knew there were 78 laps to do on the same tyres, which was very, very difficult.

“We did a great management of the tyres, there was a big part of the race where we had to manage the gap with George [Russell behind], then in the last 10 laps I could push a bit more.

2024 Monaco Grand Prix: Leclerc crosses the line to win his home Grand Prix for the first time

“The car felt amazing, so I just want to thank the team for just having done such an incredible work over the last few months. Giving me the opportunity to finally win this race is again a very special feeling.”

Leclerc also reserved a few words for those watching in the packed grandstands and verges around the circuit, with the crowd including plenty of family members and friends who he grew up with.

READ MORE: Perez, Magnussen and Hulkenberg share contrasting views on start pile-up in Monaco

“The parade laps already were special on the bus, seeing so many of my friends in the balcony, so many people I know in the balcony, and it was just very, very special,” he smiled.

“This one means a lot and the support that I’ve a over the weekend means a huge amount, so thank you so much to everybody.”

Leclerc’s win slashes Max Verstappen’s championship lead to 31 points, with the Dutchman having to settle for sixth position on a tough weekend for Red Bull, whose lead over Ferrari in the constructors’ comes down to 24 points.

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