Victory comes to those who persist. Common saying. You know it. Shakespeare has had no role in it, nor did Arundhati Roy, Elif Shafaq or Gordon Thomas. It’s the way things are in any sphere in life. More so, you have to contend, in the testing waters of Formula 1, where tears and agony are inevitable at the back of a crash, irrational racing move or an unscheduled stop.
But where smiles and contentment belonged to Daniel Ricciardo of McLaren, who deservedly passed the checkered flag as the winner for the first time since his 2018 Monaco exploits, there was agony for Lewis and Max.
But was it all? Whose race performance won hearts, not only because it was such a hard-fought effort but also because it came supremely close to birthing a podium, which would’ve been such a remarkable gift for the Tifosi?
You don’t need clues here. You may simply contend with the fact that he’ll surely be, should everything fall into place, the Prince of Monaco who’ll lord at Ferrari one day.
Not the great prince Albert, son of Grace Kelly, of course, but the graceful, passionate, determined and unrelenting Charles Leclerc.
The Prince of Ferrari, who won at Monza in 2019, suffered a woeful race in 2020 and did everything he possibly could, upon his return to the venue where it’s all blood passionate red in 2021!
What we remember and must for times to come is how brilliantly Ricciardo stormed to the lead of the 53-lap race at Monza, even as he began second. Passing other drivers on the grid is one thing, but overtaking Max Verstappen on a Sunday, inside the opening lap is something else. An effort second to none in its conception and execution.
And yet, despite all the highs and lights sitting with Ricciardo, the agonisingly close yet heartfelt effort from Charles Leclerc, who finished P4 at Monza, was a lesson in perseverance.
About not getting affected by the lost chance of scoring a podium. About taking the positives and moving on.
Many won’t remember, given much of the land of the scarlet red was painted papaya green by McLaren’s brilliant Monza result, but fact is, Charles Leclerc’s race was anything but disappointing.
He fought Lando Norris and Valtteri Bottas, and emerged as the next best after the trinity on the podium.
That’s when the young and already famous Monegasque driver began from eighth on the grid.
In so doing, he’s also emerge on top of his teammate Carlos Sainz Jr., whom Leclerc would beat by well over 1.3 seconds.
With a little more racing speed, especially on a circuit where straight line pace matters ever so much, you’d think Charles Leclerc would have done even better.
And it’s hard to deny it as well.
Here’s what the 2019 Italian GP winner had to say about the recent F1 race, Ferrari’s home Grand Prix:
“I put my whole heart into it today. In terms of my personal performance, I would rank this as one of my top drives since joining Formula 1, so I am really happy about my race. Every lap was like a qualifying lap and I took every opportunity I had to fight for positions and had fun driving. We were quite vulnerable on the main straight which is what made the race more difficult for us.“
“Of course we want more than a fourth place, but taking all things into consideration I think this is a result we can be pleased with today. Looking at where we were last year, we have made a big step forward. This is thanks to the work of every person on our team and I think we should be proud of this and acknowledge it.“