Monday, June 24, 2024

2024 Monaco Grand Prix: What the Drivers said after the Race

Charles Leclerc took his first victory around the famous streets of Monaco, as both Scuderia Ferrari cars finished on the podium at Round 8 of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

The race was largely uneventful after a lap one red flag that saw four cars out of the race, including Oracle Red Bull Racing driver Sergio Pérez.

Read what the drivers made of the weekend and the race:

Charles Leclerc — Scuderia Ferrari — 1st

“I can’t really explain how I feel. The race seemed to go on for ever, but maybe that made it even nicer. Winning here means so much to me, because it’s the race that made me dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver when I was little. So I want to thank the people of Monaco, on the lap of honour I saw so many people on the balconies and I thank all of them for their incredible support.

“Over the last few laps it was difficult because you start to pray nothing’s going to happen and I could feel the emotion growing in me and I realised I was almost losing concentration on my driving. I was thinking a lot about my father, about everything he did to ensure that I was here today and I was also thinking of Jules. 

“Winning this race was a dream we all had and I dedicate the win to them.We had to do a lot of tyre management, also managing the gap to George (Russell) to make sure the McLarens couldn’t get a free pit stop, so mentally it was quite draining. 

“I have to thank the team for doing an exceptional job over the past few months and for helping me to win this race. I can’t wait to celebrate with all of them and the rest of the team as soon as I get to Maranello.”

Oscar Piastri — McLaren F1 Team — 2nd

“That was a tricky race. The pace at the beginning was incredibly slow. I had half a look before the tunnel but didn’t have a car small enough to fit through the gap. Thanks to the whole team who have worked so hard. 

“It’s been a great weekend all around, and what better place to get a result like that than Monaco. It’s special to achieve a podium in Senna’s colours, too, given his incredible record around these streets.”

Carlos Sainz — Scuderia Ferrari — 3rd

“It was a very tactical race. I had a very good first start off the line, to the point that I was side by side with Oscar (Piastri) into turn 1 and I went for the inside gap. We touched, I got a puncture and I thought that was it. 

“Fortunately for me, the big accident behind meant I could restart from P3 and thankfully everyone was OK.For the restart we had new Hard tyres and it was just a matter of managing the pace until the end and making sure Lando didn’t have a window to pit. 

“Once this was achieved, I tried to overtake Oscar during the last laps but it’s simply too difficult if you are on the same strategy as the car ahead.I’m very happy for Charles! Winning your home race is something every driver dreams of and it was good to be able to celebrate with him on the podium!”

Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Lando Norris — McLaren F1 Team — 4th

“A good team result. A lot of points on the board, which is exactly what we wanted. But as we expected, there were no opportunities to move forward, especially after the Red Flag at the beginning. 

“It was unlucky that we got put down to fourth again after the first start, that would have been lovely! But there wasn’t a lot we could do on a day like today. We stayed in there, got good points for the team, and that’s the main thing.

George Russell — Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team — 5th

“That was the best race of our season so far. We had good pace and were able to show that near the end, despite being on 70-lap old Medium tyres. We were closing on the top four at the end and only finished a handful of seconds off P1. There are plenty of positives to take from the weekend as a whole. 

“We spent a lot of time this morning going through all the strategy options. When we lined up on the grid, and everyone ahead was on the Medium compound, I was very happy. That looked even better when Carlos (Sainz) stopped on the opening lap. 

“The red flag came out though and made our lives more difficult! I spent the first 30 laps taking it easy and in the end, I was able to keep the tyres in a good place and get to the end. Max (Verstappen) put me under a bit of pressure at the end but it was all pretty controlled.”

Max Verstappen — Oracle Red Bull Racing — 6th

“Of course, the most important thing is that Checo was okay following his crash. There was a lot of damage to his car, which was very unfortunate, but luckily he was fine. The red flag ultimately meant that our strategy was ruined, so everyone was just managing tyres until the end of the race and the pit stop did not change much either. 

“We had to really slow down a lot to make it to the end of the race and I tried to pass George for two laps but it was extremely difficult. The ride of the car was still not great today and we just didn’t have the pace in qualifying. 

“It ended up being a very boring race for us and not much we could do. It’s been a bad weekend for us but the positive is that we know what the weakness is in the car and if we can improve this we should get back a lot of lap time. 

“A season like last year doesn’t happen often and we are realistic; we stay very strong as a team, don’t overreact, analyse the race and go from there.”

Lewis Hamilton — Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team — 7th

“There have been plenty of encouraging signs from our performance this weekend. The team has worked so hard to bring updates to the car and we’ve got more to come across the next few races. 

“We have taken a step forward with the car and, if we can continue to make a few more, then we can hopefully get ourselves into the fight with the three teams ahead of us.    The race today was non-eventful. 

“Everyone was managing their pace after the red flag and ultimately, whatever tyre you were on, you could make it to the end. That took away our options of making forward progress which was frustrating. I’m looking forward to going to Canada and seeing what we can do there. 

Yuki Tsunoda — Visa Cash App RB – 8th

“It was a very long race, but I had to respect the strategy that we had planned. I was a little frustrated, but I kept my cool and managed the pace. I think we maximised it; we were managing tyres and pace well, making sure that we were prepared for any situation. 

“I really enjoyed the last few laps because I got told I could push flat out while making sure I wasn’t too greedy and brought the car home. The important thing is that we keep scoring points. 

“As a team, we had a strong race week so it’s very positive. Well done to the team, very well deserved.”

Alex Albon — Williams Racing — 9th

“Whilst you’d rather have a slightly more exciting race to win points at, I’m still happy. P9 for the team and our first points of the season which means a lot to us. You never want to be pointless, especially for the team’s morality, so hopefully this will be a nice kickstart to the season. 

“It was a bit frustrating out there as you could see how much pace Yuki had but he was managing excessively, so it was a very slow and painful race; I was struggling to stay focused. 

“We’ve added small amounts of performance to the car so it’s good to see these upgrades working and that we’re able to stay around a similar pace to our direct competitors.”

Pierre Gasly — BWT Alpine F1 Team — 10th

“It feels good to score my first point of the season and the team deserves it, considering how much work they have put in during the last couple of weeks to improve our performance. 

“Monaco is a place full of opportunities, especially in Qualifying, which we seized by reaching Q3 for the first time this year. Had we maximised Q3, more points were probably possible. As a team we will review many things. 

“After the red flag, the race was very uneventful and it was just about managing tyres and pace all the way to the chequered flag where, in the end, the outcome is a deserved point for the team.”

Fernando Alonso — Aston Martin Armaco F1 Team — 11th

“We were a little bit unlucky at the beginning of the race. We chose the Hard tyre to start the race aiming to go very long in the first stint. With the red flag everyone changed tyres, we did the same but had to fit the Medium and go to the end which was tortuous. 

“It was very difficult to keep the tyres alive. At one point we thought we’d try a different strategy with Lance – a pit stop to attack Gasly, we were out of the points with nothing to lose. It didn’t work but generally it was a disappointing weekend. 

“We need to get better for Canada.”

Daniel Ricciardo — Visa Cash App RB – 12th

“After yesterday’s qualifying, I came into today mentally prepared for a race like that. In this case, not qualifying at the front, there’s a highly likely chance that the race here is being dictated by someone else’s pace, and this is how it was. 

“You can always hope that things can change or something can happen in the race, and I think the first start was probably one of the best starts I had this year. But then after the second start, once I saw Alonso in front of me doing all he could to keep his tyres till the end, I realised soon that it would have been hard. I tried to keep pressure on him, but obviously, he’s very experienced, and Monaco is a track that requires such a big mistake to make possible some overtaking. 

“I had two laps of clean air today, where I could push a little bit more and it was definitely enjoyable, but for the rest of the race I had to have a lot of patience. There are certainly some positives to take from this weekend, but at the same time, there’s also some personal disappointment. 

“Looking at the next race, Montréal is a good track that I enjoy, so we’ll try to keep things going better. Charles got his first win here in Monaco today, in the past he’s definitely experienced some highs and lows around this track, so he deserved it and I’m very happy for him.”

Photo: Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Valtteri Bottas — Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber — 13th

“I spent most of the race stuck in a train, which definitely wasn’t that fun – if anything, it was pretty slow. Everyone knows how difficult is to overtake around here – we tried to take some opportunities by starting with the hardest compound, but we weren’t lucky with it because of the red flag, while everyone who was on a softer tyre benefitted from it. 

Still, I had a clean race despite everything, both starts were decent, and I managed to make up a few places – overall, our pace was okay in clean air. 

Of course, qualifying is decisive here, and we had a tough time yesterday, lacking one-lap pace; normally, though, Monaco is an outlier, and we still learned lots from this weekend, which will be useful as we prepare to get back racing in Montreal in two weeks’ time.”

Lance Stroll — Aston Martin Armaco F1 Team — 14th

“I think we always expected the race to be about managing the tyres so that was no surprise, especially after the restart. You need a big delta to overtake here so we did what we could with the strategy. 

“I had a gap over Pierre [Gasly] so we pitted for Hard tyres to try and race him in the second half of the grand prix. In the end it didn’t work out so we missed out on scoring a point. This weekend was not the easiest and shows we need to find some more pace.”

Logan Sargeant — Williams Racing — 15th

“It was a tricky race and looking at a rear wing was pretty much my day. It was uneventful for the most part; I was stuck underneath Fernando and Danny for a long time, and it just started to eat away at the tyres, and I really had nothing left. 

“The rears completely degraded and from there I was hanging on to the tyres. Once I put the new tyre on and got some clear air, I felt good. Alex getting points is a boost for the team and shows a bit of what is to come. 

“Going forward, when both cars have the same spec, we’ll both be able to fight for these opportunities more.”

Zhou Guanyu — Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber — 16th

“It’s been a really tame and uneventful afternoon for me. At the first start, I saw the accident with Perez, Magnussen and Hülkenberg just in front of me: it was a sketchy moment and I’m happy to see them all walk away from the shunt. 

“After the restart, everyone got all the way to the end and we were all in the same boat, so there was nothing we could do. Fernando was holding up the whole pack to create a gap for his teammate, which meant we were all in a train with no potential to overtake. 

“Perhaps the race would have been a bit more interesting without the red flag, with different strategies, but it wasn’t the case. Monaco has always been a bit tricky for us, we need to understand why we suffer on layouts like these. We have work to do ahead of us, but we know Montreal will be different.”

Esteban Ocon — BWT Alpine F1 Team — DNF

“I made a mistake today so I apologise to the entire team for the incident and the retirement. In the end, the team scored points as we set out to do and that’s the most important thing for our ambitions. 

“There was too much damage sustained to my car to resume the race despite the best efforts of the team during the red flag stop. We will review everything as a team and come back stronger together. We are all pushing to score points. Mistakes do happen and we move on.”

Nico Hülkenberg — Haas F1 Team — DNF

“I’m disappointed and a bit gutted to be honest to be out after 500 meters. It’s obviously far from ideal having both cars out, and I got taken out by an incident which I wasn’t directly involved in. 

“Obviously, it’s quite narrow here going up to Turn 3. It’s a big shame, things were getting too tight there, it was somewhat a racing incident – it maybe looked a bit optimistic from Kevin – but Checo could’ve also seen him and left room, so the outcome is obviously unfortunate.” 

Kevin Magnussen — Haas F1 Team — DNF

“I was with my front alongside Perez’s rear from the exit of Turn 1, in the run up to Turn 3. He goes towards the wall, the wall comes back a little bit towards the track, and I had nowhere to go. 

“I don’t know if he didn’t see me, but I can’t just disappear out of the blue, so I made contact with the wall and him at the same time, and we crashed. It’s frustrating and a crash like this has a big cost for the team in terms of spare parts and making new parts, as well as a lot of work for the team, it’s just never good.” 

Sergio Pérez — Oracle Red Bull Racing — DNF

“At the start I lost a position to one of the Haas cars and I was coming out of turn one, I couldn’t see Kevin in my mirrors, you can see that from my on board and then the crash happened. I think the move was unnecessary, we sustained a lot of damage and it was a very dangerous incident. 

“I was disappointed it didn’t get investigated, it was an immense crash and my car is completely destroyed. I think it was totally unnecessary at that point of the race and where we were starting on the grid, we should have been starting in a better grid position today to avoid this and my Team and I are sorry for it, but, there was no need for that. 

“It caused a lot of damage to my car and I am okay after the accident; I just got a small graze to my elbow. Safety in F1 has come a very long way and for that I am grateful. 

“It has been a bad weekend for all of us and the whole thing is frustrating but I trust my Team with my car ahead of Canada and I hope we come back very strong.”