Motor racing-Leclerc will take a step up after Monaco win, says Vasseur

Formula One F1 - Monaco Grand Prix - Circuit de Monaco, Monaco - May 26, 2024 Ferrari's Charles Leclerc before diving into the marina after winning the Monaco Grand Prix REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/ File Photo

(Reuters) - Ferrari expect Charles Leclerc to take a step up after finally celebrating a dream home win in Monaco, according to team boss Fred Vasseur.

The Italian team have won two of the eight Formula One races so far this season, with Leclerc and Carlos Sainz taking one each, Red Bull's Max Verstappen taking five and McLaren's Lando Norris the other.

"I think it was an important one," Vasseur told reporters after Sunday's victory.

"He had a kind of weight on the shoulders for years now about the win in Monaco, sometimes he did small mistakes like in F2, sometimes he was unlucky like in F1...

"I think probably for his own self-confidence and for the approach that he has on all the other events, Charles will do a step forward."

Vasseur saw at least three teams fighting it out for the rest of the season.

McLaren's Oscar Piastri of Australia was second on Sunday in Monaco with Spaniard Sainz, winner in Australia in March, finishing third. Norris was fourth, and Mercedes' George Russell fifth.

"I think now we have at least three teams, but I think Mercedes is not that far away, and these three teams able to fight for the pole position, able to fight for the win," said Vasseur.

"It’s exciting and it will be I hope like this to the end of the season."

Leclerc took pole position in Monaco, ending Verstappen's record-equalling run of eight poles in a row, with Red Bull's triple champion struggling with his car around the tight and bumpy track.

Vasseur said Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren could all have tracks that suited them better over the remaining 16 races and his drivers would have to seize their opportunities.

"Last year we lost far too many points into the season and this year we made a huge step forward on this one also. We are much more opportunistic and it will be like this to the end of the season, but the fight is tight," he said.

Red Bull won all but one race last year in its most dominant season, with Verstappen taking 19 of the 22, but the Dutch driver is already being pushed much harder.

"As soon as you are in a position to win you pay more attention to details so you have a kind of snowball effect," said Vasseur.

"This is part of the improvement of the last six or seven months and we have to continue like this," added the Frenchman, who took charge at Maranello in January last year.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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