Monaco’s Home Race Heroes

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In 2018, Charles Leclerc became the fourth Monegasque driver to compete in his home Grand Prix weekend. It has been 68 years since the last driver from the principality finished on the podium at their home event. Will the wait for their next home success finally end in 2019?

The Monaco Grand Prix has been held 76 times since the inaugural race around the streets in 1929. Louis Chiron became the first local driver to compete in the race in its second running in 1930, a race in which he finished as runner-up. Chiron would compete in the race another seven times, and finished runner-up again in 1934 and 1948, before Monaco hosted a round of the first Formula 1 World Championship season in 1950.

Chiron was present on the grid for the event, and qualified in eighth. He ended the race in third place, making him the first – and so far only – Monegasque driver to finish on the podium at his home event. He also became only the second driver in F1 history to finish on the podium at their home Grand Prix. Reg Parnell had finished third at the British Grand Prix in the previous race. It was also the only time a Monegasque driver had finished on an F1 podium until Charles Leclerc took his maiden podium finish at the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Chiron achieved another record at the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix. On his final race appearance, Chiron became the oldest driver to ever compete in a Formula One Grand Prix at the age of 55. He finished in sixth place – which was the last time a Monegasque driver scored a point in F1 until Leclerc did so at the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Chiron made two more Monaco Grand Prix appearances, but failed to start in 1956 due to a blown engine and failed to qualify for the race in 1958.

Just two more Monegasque drivers would compete in F1 before 2018. André Testut was the first, competing only at the Monaco Grand Prix in 1958 and 1959. He failed to qualify for the race on both occasions. It would be another 35 years before the next driver from Monaco raced in the sport. Olivier Beretta drove for Larrousse in 1994, and his home race was the first time he reached the end of a Grand Prix, finishing in eighth place. Beretta made six more Grand Prix appearances before running out of sponsorship money and being replaced. He went on to make test appearances for Williams in 2003 and 2004.

The hopes of the principality are now pinned on Charles Leclerc, who is competing for Ferrari in only his second season in the sport. Leclerc had a day to forget at his first home race last season. Towards the end of the race, Leclerc’s Sauber suffered a brake failure and he collided with the back of Brendon Hartley’s Toro Rosso at the chicane.

The Monegasque driver came close to scoring his maiden victory at the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix following a dominant weekend, but ultimately finished third following engine problems in the closing stages. Ferrari haven’t yet been able to break Mercedes’ run of consecutive 1-2 finishes in 2019, but perhaps Monaco – a track at which Ferrari have won at more recently than Mercedes – will present them, and Leclerc, with a golden opportunity.

Where do you think Charles Leclerc will finish in his second Monaco appearance? Leave a comment below!

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About the Author ()

Nicky Haldenby is a Formula One writer from Scarborough, England. Having grown up with F1 often on the TV on Sunday afternoons, Nicky has been following the sport avidly since 2006. After graduating from University in 2015 with a First Class degree in English Language and Literature, he founded his own F1 website and now regularly writes articles about both the sport's history and current affairs.

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