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Formula One without Monaco is not Formula One, says Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc said the Monaco Grand Prix must remain on the calendar (Manu Fernandez/AP
Charles Leclerc said the Monaco Grand Prix must remain on the calendar (Manu Fernandez/AP

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has told Formula One bosses that the Monaco Grand Prix must stay on the calendar.

Organisers of the sport’s grandest race are locked in discussions with F1’s American owners Liberty Media over a contract extension – Sunday’s 78-lap race around the principality is set to be the last unless a new deal is rubber-stamped.

Despite being considered the most glamorous event in F1, the two-mile course has remain largely unchanged from the first grand prix staged in 1929, and some have claimed it is no longer fit for purpose in its current guise.

But Leclerc, 24, born and raised in Monaco, said: “Losing the race would be a bad move for both parties.

“I have never known Monaco without Formula One, apart from Covid reasons in 2020, and Formula One without Monaco is not Formula One.

“Formula One has historic tracks like Silverstone, Monza and Monaco, too, and Monaco should stay on the calendar.

“There is no track that comes close to the adrenalin we get here, and for me it is part of F1’s history.”

Despite the uncertainty, it is expected that Liberty, and the race organisers, are close to striking a new agreement with a formal announcement likely to follow in the coming months.

F1’s motorsport boss Ross Brawn has explored ways at adapting the tight and twisty track, but alterations would require the full support of Automobile Club de Monaco.

Leclerc, who has won two races this season and trails championship leader Max Verstappen by six points, added: “F1 needs to go to the best tracks, but I really think Monaco is one of them, and in terms of qualifying there is no place I enjoy as much as I do here.

“The driver can make a difference because the barriers are so close. You can feel the danger because you have the sensation of speed.

“I agree that there are things we could change to increase overtaking because the cars have evolved and it might not be the best track to overtake.

“But in terms of challenges for the driver, it is one of the toughest for us, and a track like that should stay on the calendar.”

The Monte Carlo venue plays host to the seventh round of the campaign with Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team aiming to build upon their mini-resurgence in Barcelona last Sunday.

Hamilton dropped to last but one following an opening-lap collision before fighting back to fifth.

The spotlight will be on the 37-year-old for different reasons here with his two-race exemption to remove his nose stud – agreed with the FIA in Miami earlier this month – over. The Mercedes man will face the media on Friday morning ahead of opening practice.

Meanwhile, British driver Lando Norris is expected to be fit to race in Monaco despite struggling with tonsilitis.