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26 May 2024

I had tears in my eyes – Charles Leclerc says closing Monaco laps were emotional

26 May 2024

Charles Leclerc has revealed he struggled to see out of his Ferrari in the closing laps of Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix as triumphant tears streamed down his face.

Leclerc, 26, became the first Monegasque in nearly a century to win a Formula One race on the sport’s most famous streets following a faultless display.

“I struggled to maintain my emotions in the last 10 laps of the race,” said Leclerc. “I realised that with two laps to go I was struggling to see out of the tunnel because I had tears in my eyes.

“I was like, ‘oh, Charles, don’t do that now, we still have two laps until the finish’. It was very difficult to contain those emotions and those thoughts of people who have helped me get to where I am today.”

Leclerc then paid tribute to his father Herve, who died in 2017. “I was thinking about my dad when I was driving,” he continued.

“He gave everything for me to be here. It was a dream of ours for me to race here so to win it is unbelievable.

“It is only a victory and the season is long. It is 25 points, just like any other win, but emotionally it means so much to me.”

Leclerc has been on pole twice before here. But he banged the barriers in the closing stages of qualifying in 2021, meaning he was unable to start the race.

I was thinking about my dad when I was driving. He gave everything for me to be here. It was a dream of ours for me to race here so to win it is unbelievable

Ferrari then messed up his strategy the following season and he crossed the line only fourth. Before Sunday’s race, Leclerc had never even finished on the podium at his home event.

“I never believed in the curse,” said Leclerc. “It always felt very difficult on those two previous occasions. With one, I couldn’t start the race and the second one we didn’t make the right strategy choice.

“It was very frustrating to lose those wins and as a driver you never know when you will get the next opportunity, especially when it is your home race and especially when your home race is Monaco which is such a difficult track to master and to do everything perfectly.

“I knew today was another opportunity and I know how I felt those last two times. I really wanted to get that victory. There was tension but as soon I put the helmet on and I get in the car, I feel nothing.”

Leclerc has reduced Verstappen’s championship advantage from 48 points to 31 following his first victory since the Austrian Grand Prix in 2022. Verstappen has now won just one of the last three races.

“It is very clear in mind what I have to do tonight with the mechanics and engineers and I cannot wait to enjoy the moment,” added Leclerc.

“It is such a special moment in my career and I have to celebrate. Tomorrow we will think about the next race in Canada.”

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