Competition for Sargeant's Williams F1 seat is hotting up: Monaco GP diary


A popular F1 win for one Ferrari driver, while the other generates more speculation in the transfer market. Plus: Williams' Cinderella situation and more Andretti controversy. Chris Medland with his 2024 Monaco GP diary

Logan Sargeant at Monaco hairpin in 2024 F1 Grand Prix

Logan Sargeant's Williams' seat could become one of the most desirable on the grid in 2026

Joe Portlock/ F1 via Getty Images

A curse lifted and further evidence of where Red Bull’s weaknesses are made for headlines with the on-track action, but there was plenty off-track too that was making for interesting conversations in the paddock in Monaco.


You can’t help but root for Leclerc

After the Monaco Grand Prix ended and before the party started, you got a real sense of what this race means to Charles Leclerc.

He has been positive, open, honest and engaging throughout the weekend despite the pressure on him, and it wasn’t just for the cameras either; I saw him on multiple occasions cycling into the track and stopping for photos and autographs with fans despite being mobbed for ages and it clearly slowing his progress to where he was going.

And among all of that focus, he delivered in impressive style, with two brilliant laps in qualifying that were both good enough for pole position. But as we’ve been here before, he was quickly turning his focus to the race.

Sparks from Ferrari of Charles Leclerc in qualifying for 2024 F1 Monaco GP

Leclerc was in scintillating for to secure pole


Where I was so impressed by Leclerc was in the way he didn’t criticise Ferrari for any of the former failures to win here, but instead highlighted how it shows it’s never simple from pole position. And he said he’d be happy as long as he and the team executed everything to the best of their abilities, regardless of the result.

Well, they obviously did that, and it allowed Leclerc a moment of reflection.

He admitted he was thinking of his family and late father during the final ten laps, and what they had sacrificed to help him become a Formula 1 driver. I remember Leclerc’s quite remarkable determination and strength to win and finish second across two F2 races in Baku just a few days after his father died, and it being a sign he was destined to be a force in F1.

Charles Leclerc raises Monaco GP trophy after winning in 2024

An emotional win for home hero Leclerc


But his honesty that he had tears in his eyes late on and had to snap himself out of it to ensure he focused until the finish of the race just makes you feel happy for him even more that he now has his first win in Monaco under his belt. It might have been a dull spectacle as a race, but it was a great outcome for the winner.


The latest driver market developments

I warned you this would be a regular entry, but the more serious momentum during the Monaco weekend switched from the drivers that are interesting Haas to one in particular who is in Williams’ sights.

And that driver, is Carlos Sainz.

Carlos Sainz leads Lando Norris in 2024 F1 Monaco GP

Sainz on his way to a podium place in Monaco: he’s keen to remain at the front when he leaves Ferrari

Grand Prix Photo

Williams has been linked with Andrea Kimi Antonelli, and there were also reports around Valtteri Bottas following his meeting with the team in Imola. But there have been numerous occasions where members of Sainz’s team have been holding talks with James Vowles to understand his plans for the team.

Sources suggest those plans do impress the Sainz camp, and there’s another reason the Williams seat needs to be taken seriously: It will have a Mercedes power unit in 2026.

With confidence within Mercedes so high that it will have a strong power unit in two years, it still holds out hope of attracting Max Verstappen. Whether it manages to or not, then Antonelli could well take the seat instead, meaning five of the six Mercedes-powered seats will have gone, except for the one currently occupied by Logan Sargeant.

Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant

Mercedes power gives Williams extra optimism for 2026

Grand Prix Photo

If – and it will always have to be an if – the Mercedes PU is the benchmark as it was in 2014, then there’s every chance the top three teams in 2026 are Mercedes, McLaren and Williams. And if that’s the case, given the ongoing investment at Williams it would be a very attractive destination.

But Sainz has also been courted by Audi for a long time and values that interest and effort, while contrary to reports there also has not been a deadline set from the incoming constructor. Alpine’s also an outside bet, but unless Verstappen moves and Red Bull calls on Sainz, or Sergio Perez’s form drops off a cliff, then it’s looking like a call between Williams and Audi.


Monaco remains special

Another entry that could certainly be a regular one in this column is the magic of Monaco, and how it shows no sign of disappearing.

I’m writing this before the race has taken place, because it doesn’t need a great race to be so special. Qualifying is incredible, even practice is amazing. The race might often be processional but being in a trackside grandstand and seeing the skill of the drivers flirting with the barriers is almost impossible to describe.

Crowds in Monaco Harbour watch the 2024 F1 Grand Prix

The action is captivating from the grandstands — and yachts

Getty via Red Bull

Even ignoring the glitz and glamour that surrounds it, Monaco isn’t about the actual competitive outcome of the track action, it’s about the fact that these cars are driven so brilliantly in such a location, allowing an even greater understanding of just how special the drivers are. And it provides those drivers with a unique challenge, until Sunday at least.

It’s of course not realistic for it to be accessible to everyone, Monaco needs to be an event that people want to go to at least once, and then they’re far more likely to really fall in love with it.

F1 could certainly put on an even better show by having smaller cars so that overtaking is slightly more possible – as the F2 and F3 races demonstrated – but it certainly hasn’t outgrown Monaco. And in reality, with such a display of skill in such an iconic location, it never will.

EDIT: Even after such a processional race, I stand by it. As Oscar Piastri put it afterwards, from a track action point of view, Saturday is worth the sacrifice of Sunday.


Maffei’s silence on Andretti

In the build-up to the race, Andretti-related headlines that should have been focusing on the hiring of Pat Symonds were being overshadowed by Mario Andretti’s claims about comments allegedly made by Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei.

Andretti claimed Maffei interrupted a conversation with Stefano Domenicali in Miami to tell him that “I will do everything in my power to see that Michael never enters Formula 1”.

Mario and Michael Andretti on F1 grid at the 2024 Miami Grand Prix

Mario and Michael Andretti on the Miami grid

Grand Prix Photo

Sources close to Formula One Management and Liberty Media dispute that Maffei interjected, and instead claim that Andretti was the one who approached Maffei, but there was no firm denial of the general content, and either way it shows a real souring of the relationship.

That has been triggered by the letters and calls for investigations from U.S. Congress and Senators, many of whom represent Michigan and therefore have particular interest in situations involving General Motors.

Maffei was present in Monaco throughout the weekend but largely with Las Vegas Grand Prix promoters and partners, and declined to comment on the accusations. Either way, Andretti’s hopes of joining the grid are not increasing with the recent developments.