MONACO (Reuters) - Formula One's showcase Monaco Grand Prix got underway after an hour-long delay due to heavy rain on Sunday, with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc leading the field away from a rolling start.
Drivers had earlier carried out two formation laps behind the safety car before red flags were waved and the cars returned to the pits.
"It's raining like crazy," pole-sitter and local favourite Leclerc said over team radio before the race director called a halt.
The start was originally scheduled for 1500 local (1300GMT) but the formation lap was delayed to 1509, when the rain was not heavy, and then 1516 behind the safety car as conditions deteriorated.
It finally started at 1605 local, with the field doing a further formation lap behind the safety car.
The governing FIA said race control had been monitoring a severe downpour that was rapidly approaching the street circuit and decided to delay the start accordingly for safety reasons, given there had been no wet running.
The delay triggered plenty of criticism on social media and Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, whose championship leader Max Verstappen was starting fourth, suggested the race could have got going at the appointed time.
He said it was correct to stop it later, however.
"If we were starting on pole position we would be a lot less happy with the weather than starting on the second row because it creates a lot of opportunities," he told Sky Sports television.
"As we are in Monaco it is a bit of a lottery now."
Monaco is famous for its lack of overtaking on the tight and twisty streets but slippery conditions make the chances of a mistake far greater.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Fallon)