Charles Leclerc started the Monaco F2 Sprint Race from pole position, leading the field for a significant segment of the 41-lap race. But, it all came crashing down and what was meant to be a dream campaign on home soil, turned into a devastating nightmare.
Leclerc grew up in the principality, spending his school years riding around on the bus to get to college. Old teachers were among the crowd of spectators, peers, friends. He is the local hero.
Before the formation lap got underway, Leclerc was on the team radio, saying that there was still a clutch problem. This was the first small sign of heartbreak. However, young-Leclerc completed the two formation laps – after Antonio Fuoco and Sean Gelael – without a hitch and was ready for lights out.
Leclerc’s getaway wasn’t as good as the next man on the grid, Alexander Albon, suffering from wheel spin as he pulled away. Nonetheless, the PREMA driver held on to his lead as the first corner dawned. He continued out front for several laps, leading the pack behind the safety car after Nicholas Latifi conked out entering the tunnel.
Things came crashing down after that with a misjudgement. A second safety car prompted PREMA to pit Leclerc, the team presumably assuming that there was an appropriate time window to execute it. Leclerc had been lapping at a formidable pace, setting a new quickest lap after new quickest lap.
Yet, this was not to be as Leclerc rejoined the field several positions behind where he started the race.
Now in fourth, the F2 championship leader had to quickly pit again for what looked like a loose wheel and subsequently retired for good when the issue couldn’t be sorted, with the series announcing his team would be investigated for an unsafe release.
Hope was now lost that the local boy couldn’t fight back to win.
The drizzle turned to hail as Leclerc suffered a catastrophic mechanical failure, which came as somewhat unexpected to the spectators.
This ultimately caused a heart-breaking retirement for Leclerc, who’d had a stellar start to the F2 season thus far.
A clearly devastated Leclerc was visibly distraught, the camera showing images of him crouched on the ground, looking emotional.
Very positive things to take from this w-e. The pace was amazing. The only thing we couldn't control is luck and it has not been with us… pic.twitter.com/tCl4guxyI9
— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) May 27, 2017
All is not lost, though. Leclerc will have another shot at some glory in the F2 Sprint Race tomorrow. There will be many in the crowd hoping that he will have better fortune this time out.