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Monaco GP: Charles Leclerc aiming to end curse at home F1 event as Oscar Piastri targets first win

Charles Leclerc will start alongside Oscar Piastri on the front row, with Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris in behind as Ferrari and McLaren are set to fight for victory in Monaco; watch the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday at 2pm, live on Sky Sports F1, with build-up from 12.30pm

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Sky F1's Anthony Davidson was at the SkyPad to analyse what gave Charles Leclerc the edge over Oscar Piastri in qualifying at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc claimed pole position for a third time at the Monaco Grand Prix to give himself another opportunity to win his home event.

Leclerc will start alongside McLaren's Oscar Piastri on the front row when the lights go out at 2pm on Sunday, live on Sky Sports F1 and Main Event, and will be hoping his luck turns around after previous Monaco heartbreak.

The Monegasque driver has never finished on the podium, with a best finish of fourth, but has a big opportunity to change that.

"We just have to focus on ourselves. We are in the best possible position to win the race. It's in our hands. We are a much stronger team than we were in the past. We have to maximise this opportunity," Leclerc told Sky Sports F1.

"In the last three years, there have been lots of things changing. The team taking experience and doing steps in the right direction. Since the arrival of Fred [Vasseur], he has very clear ideas and vision of what he wants to achieve."

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Following claiming pole at the Monaco Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc says his 'whole focus is on tomorrow'.

Can Leclerc hold position at the start?

Luckily for Leclerc, it's a very short run down to Turn One and the pole-sitter starts on the inside, so as long as he doesn't have a drastically worse start than Piastri, he should hold the lead.

The most interesting aspect will be whether Carlos Sainz in third or Lando Norris in fourth can gain a spot, so the two Ferraris or two McLarens will be together after the first corner, rather than split.

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"I'm one place off the podium and that's our goal. It's all about the start, strategy and pit stops," said Norris.

"There are a lot of quick cars behind and we have to watch out for them. It's going to be exciting and hopefully we can push Ferrari. The people who make the least mistakes, will be the ones who win tomorrow."

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Watch onboard as Charles Leclerc takes pole position in Monaco.

Recent races have seen the front-running teams start on the medium tyre and Sky Sports F1 strategy expert Bernie Collins does not expect Sunday's race to be any different.

"When you're looking at launch, you will be looking at the difference between the soft and the medium," she explained.

"Both teams will be thinking if it's worth having a soft tyre at that start just to try and gain or retain track position.

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Sky F1's Ted Kravitz reflects on all the big talking points from the qualifying in Monaco.

"Most likely I would imagine both go from medium, which allows you the chance to hopefully hold position of the line because obviously it's a very short run to Turn One.

"But, it gives you a very flexible first stint, so allows you to stop very early or go long into the race. Many years you've seen that the leaders try and go as long into the race as they can to try and avoid having to stop in any sort of traffic."

Leclerc's Monaco curse

  • In F2, in 2017, Leclerc lost a Feature Race win due to a loose wheel
  • In 2018, in his first Monaco Grand Prix, he was taken out of the race going into the Nouvelle Chicane as Brendon Hartley hit the back of him
  • A year later, Leclerc was eliminated in Q1 and retired in the race due to contact with the wall at Rascasse
  • In 2021, he took pole position for Ferrari despite bringing out the red flag in Q3 when crashing at the Swimming Pool chicane. Ferrari thought they repaired his car but on race day, the team discovered a problem on the way to the grid and Leclerc failed to start due to a driveshaft failure
  • Twelve months on, Leclerc was winning the race but lost out to his rivals through strategy and finished fourth
  • Last year, he started and finished in sixth as wet weather caused mayhem mid-race

Pace management expected before pit stop crescendo

It's widely known that overtaking in Monaco is extremely difficult due to the narrowness of the track and the tight turns.

Leclerc will almost certainly control the pace at the front to manage his tyres, a tactic we have seen before in Monaco and Singapore.

"Whoever's in the lead, the difficulty from a strategy point of view is deciding how much you push and when," said Bernie.

"There's generally a lot of pace management in the first 10 or 15 laps. Whoever's at the front is driving very slowly to control their tyres and keep the group quite bunched behind.

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Watch qualifying highlights from the Saturday of the Monaco Grand Prix.

"Then whoever is behind is struggling with graining on their tyres because they are in dirty air. The advantage of driving slowly is you keep the group packed up, so it means that whoever is directly behind you doesn't have free pit window to stop into.

"It's a big question mark of how slowly you drive. Then you start to gradually push on those tyres, it's about making the right call or the right stop lap that you push early enough to have margin to stop people behind undercutting.

"I think we've seen last weekend in Imola that McLaren were very aggressive in order to get Piastri the position over Carlos. But in races before that, Ferrari were a bit more aggressive, so this race is potentially going to reward a little bit of each of that."

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Lando Norris believes its 'positive' for McLaren to be ahead of both Red Bull's and Mercedes after qualifying in four place in Monaco.

Expect Piastri to do opposite of Leclerc

If Piastri is in second place, he will try to stay within a few seconds of Leclerc to attempt an undercut. However, the key will be pitting and coming out in clean air to make the most of fresh tyres.

Should Ferrari decide to pit Leclerc first, McLaren will likely go long with Piastri and hope for a Safety Car or Virtual Safety Car to make a cheaper pit stop.

You lose around 20 seconds when making a pit stop under green flag conditions. During a SC or VSC, this becomes approximately 12 seconds.

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Oscar Piastri says its 'amazing' how much McLaren has been able to develop the car after claiming a front row start for the Monaco GP.

"I think we can win it. When you're starting from second, there are always opportunities," said Piastri, who has never won a Grand Prix before.

"You just have to be executing extremely well around here. You might have one opportunity, and you've got to be able to take it and do everything right.

"I think we can win, it will require a lot of team work and effort and luck, but I definitely think we can win."

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Following a successful Qualifying, Carlos Sainz says that Ferarri 'will do everything to get that win' in Monaco.

Sainz to help Leclerc

The last time Leclerc started on pole in Monaco, in 2022, Ferrari messed up their strategy in mixed conditions, which saw their driver drop to fourth.

No rain is expected this Sunday but that race showed it's not completely straightforward to convert pole into a win.

Leclerc may need help from Ferrari team-mate Sainz, who could be asked to hold cars up or take a certain strategy to secure the team's first Monaco win since 2017.

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"The focus will be to see what we can do with the two cars to win the race with Charles, that he's in the best possible position to do so," said Sainz.

"Then obviously Monaco, you never know, all sorts of things can happen, but if I win it's probably because something weird has happened with Charles with strategy or with Safety Cars - I hope they don't [happen] in a way.

"Obviously, we all want to win, but at the same time, I feel like Charles deserves to win in Monaco after his unlucky run. He's been extremely strong all week, all weekend, and here in the past, so, yeah, tomorrow is a day to kind of wish that nothing happens and see if we can win with Charles."

Sky Sports F1's live Monaco GP and Indy 500 schedule

Sunday May 26
6.55am: F3 Feature Race
8.35am: F2 Feature Race
12.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday: Monaco GP build-up*
4pm: Chequered Flag: Monaco GP reaction
5pm: Ted's Notebook
5.30pm: The Indy 500

*also live on Sky Sports Main Event

It's time for the most-famous F1 race of them all - the Monaco Grand Prix. Watch every session from the famous street circuit live on Sky Sports F1, with Sunday's race at 2pm. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership - No contract, cancel anytime

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