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Leclerc’s Monaco win brings emotional end to home-soil curse

Leclerc's Monaco win brings emotional end to home-soil curse

MONACO — Charles Leclerc‘s vision blurred as he burst out of the Monaco tunnel at 170 mph and the late-afternoon sun mixed with the tears in his eyes.

“F— Charles, you cannot do that now,” he told himself as he blinked away the emotion and refocused on his braking point for the Nouvelle chicane. “You still have two laps to finish.”

His first victory on home soil was less than 4 racing miles away, and he wasn’t about to throw it away now.

From the moment he had been tall enough to peer over the balcony of a friend’s apartment and see Formula One cars whizzing past on the streets below, this had been his dream. Finally it was within his grasp, just so long as he could keep his emotions in check.

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It was a moment that had twice slipped through his fingers after two pole position laps in 2021 and 2022 had not yielded so much as a podium. More importantly, though, it was a moment that he and his late father, Hervé, had dreamt about when they first set out in go-karts more than 20 years ago.

“Where I struggled the most to contain my emotions was during the last 10 laps of the race,” Leclerc said after winning Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix. “I realised actually two laps to the end that I was struggling to see out of the tunnel just because I had tears in my eyes and, especially on a track like Monaco, you have to be on it all the way to the end. It was very difficult to contain those emotions, those thoughts again of the people that have helped me get to where I am today.”

Leclerc was 19 years old when he lost his father to a long illness, just three days before competing in a Formula 2 race in Azerbaijan. It is a time he has often referenced when asked about his mental resolve in F1, but a thought he has rarely let enter his head while behind the wheel of a race car.

“It was very much in my mind,” he added. “I think in every race I have done, there has not been one single race where I was thinking about this kind of personal stuff inside the car, because you’ve got to stay on it.

“Maybe Baku in 2017, obviously everything was still very fresh for me, so it was difficult to manage mentally. However, it’s probably the first time in my career that it happened again while driving, when you’ve got these flashbacks of all these moments that we have spent together, all the…

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