Ferrari's Charles Leclerc: I had tears in my eyes on final laps in Monaco

MONTE CARLO, Monaco -- Charles Leclerc said he had tears in his eyes in the final laps of the Monaco Grand Prix, which he finally won after years of heartbreak.

Leclerc, born and raised in the principality of Monaco, had twice before failed to convert pole position into victory but made it third-time lucky.

He led the race from start to finish to end that run on Sunday, finishing ahead of McLaren's Oscar Piastri and Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz.

Leclerc said after the race he had been thinking about his father, Herve, who died in 2017 before he made it to Formula One.

"No words can explain that ... it's such a difficult race," Leclerc said immediately after the win. "The fact starting twice on pole and couldn't make it, makes it even better. It means a lot. It's the race that made me dream of becoming a Formula One driver.

"It was a difficult race emotionally, 15 laps from the end I was hoping nothing happens, already the emotions were coming. I was thinking to my dad ... obviously he had given everything for me to be here, it was a dream of ours to race here and win, it's unbelievable."

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On top of the memory of his dad, Leclerc's godfather Jules Bianchi was also front of his mind. Bianchi died in 2015 from injuries he sustained at the Japanese Grand Prix the year before.

It was the recommendation of Bianchi, who was set to drive for Ferrari, which brought Leclerc into the company's junior programme and set him on the path which led him to the Italian team in 2019.

Leclerc was welling up near the end and had to remind himself there was a race still to finish.

"I think where I struggled the most to contain my emotions was during the last 10 laps of the race, more than on the podium," Leclerc said. "I realised actually two laps to the end that I was struggling to see out of the tunnel just because I had tears in my eyes, and I was like 'f--- Charles, you cannot do that now, you still have two laps to finish,' especially on a track like Monaco, you have to be on it all the way to the end.

"It was very difficult to contain those emotions, those thoughts again of the people that have helped me get to where I am today.

"It's only a win. The season is still very, very long. It's 25 points like any other win. However, emotionally, this one means so much. And I think the fact as well that we've started twice from pole position in the past and that we couldn't manage to get the win for one reason or another, that we couldn't really control, not in our control, makes this one even more so special."

Speaking about his dad specifically, Leclerc said: "It was very much in my mind, as I said. I think in every race I have done, there has not been one single race where I was thinking about this kind of personal stuff inside the car, because you've got to stay on it.

"Maybe Baku in 2017, obviously everything was still very fresh for me, so it was difficult to manage mentally. However it's probably the first time in my career that it happened again while driving, when you've got these flashbacks of all these moments that we have spent together, all the sacrifices that he has done for me to get to where I am.

"As I said earlier, it's not only my dream, but it was both of our dreams to get there. Obviously my whole family was supporting and obviously dreaming of that moment, which makes it even more special. That was again as I said earlier probably the moment that makes it the most difficult to manage today."