This is already the 80th Formula 1 Grand Prix de Monaco, and the story is still the same: mistakes are forbidden on the streets of the Principality. The favourite doesn’t win every time, even if he starts from pole position. This means that Max Verstappen’s rivals can pin their hopes on an unlikely victory on Sunday, thanks to the weather or race incidents.
“Red Bull is faster than us,” summed up local hero and Scuderia Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc at Thursday’s press conference. And since Charles “doesn’t believe in luck“, he will be relying on himself first this weekend, starting with qualifying on Saturday. If, as in 2021 and 2022, he manages to set the fastest time, he will start from pole position and have a better chance of winning for the first time in Monaco, on these streets he’s known by heart since he was a child.
“I’ve got friends on every street corner, some of them watching me go by from their terraces,” Leclerc smiled on Thursday. “Saturdays here often go well, we just have to do better on Sundays,” he added. On Friday, to prepare well for “the best qualifying session of the year“, Leclerc will have to manage the two free practice sessions well. As for a renewal of his contract, or the possible arrival of a new team-mate in the Scuderia, Lewis Hamilton or another, “we’ll see later”, said the Monegasque.
Last year’s winner in Monaco, and already twice victorious in five races this year, Checo Pérez trails Max Verstappen in the overall standings by just 14 points. He is keen to keep the suspense alive: “Monaco is not the strongest circuit” for Red Bull”.
Alonso still eager to win
In the provisional championship standings, there are two very big names in 3rd and 4thplaces, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. The two absolute stars of F1, who have amassed nine world titles to their name, seemed very serene at Thursday’s press conference.
“I’d be lying if I said I don’t think I can win when I arrive at a race, especially if it’s on a specific track like Singapore or Monaco,” said the Spaniard, very satisfied with his start to the season: 4 podiums in five races, 75 points amassed, an unexpected result with Aston Martin, his new team.
“Nando” has not won in F1 since 2013, but he’s so enthusiastic that he still believes he could be around in 2026, when Aston Martin becomes powered by Honda engines, against the backdrop of new technical regulations. “I’ll be 44 years old,” he says, with a caveat: “I won’t be in F1 if I’m not as fresh, as fast, as sharp, as motivated as I am today. One day, I’ll wake up and I will raise my hand,” warned the two-time world champion.
Inseparable in victory and failure, Alonso and Hamilton are often battling it out this season for a place on the podium with the two Red Bull drivers. On Thursday, the Spaniard made a friendly jibe at the Englishman, whom some media are already sending to Ferrari next year: “Lewis always says that in a team, you win together and you lose together. So if he keeps losing, he has to stay with Mercedes…“.
The seven-time world champion is in the process of finalizing a contract renewal with the German team, and “there are just a few small details left to sort out”. As for this season, which has only just begun, he remains very optimistic: “My team is working incredibly hard, and you learn more from defeat than from victory. We have new people in our team, who are really hungry, and updates that were already ready for Imola. We know the direction we need to follow in order to get closer to the guys in front”.
Stay tuned tomorrow, at 1.30 p.m. and 5.00 p.m., for two eagerly-awaited free practice sessions.