The greatest F1 home race wins

31st May 2024
Simon Ostler

Formula 1 drivers all have one goal in their career: to become world champion, but for those lucky enough to have the opportunity, there is another very substantial achievement many dream of making. Drivers have spoken of the emotional motivation behind winning their home grand prix, Ayrton Senna in particular placed almost as much importance on winning in Brazil as he did becoming a three-time champion. As a result, it’s always an incredible occasion when a driver does manage to take victory in front of thousands of adoring fans.


Charles Leclerc (2024 Monaco Grand Prix)

Charles Leclerc finally achieved his dream to take the chequered flag at his home race on what was a hugely emotional weekend at the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix. It was his fifth appearance on Monte-Carlo’s grid, starting from pole for the third time, but he had suffered several years of appalling luck since his Monaco debut for the Alfa Romeo Sauber team in 2018.

He scuppered his own chances in 2021 when, having put his car on pole, he found the wall on the exit of the swimming pool causing irreparable damage to his gearbox and driveshaft that put him out of the race before it began. A year later he was unbeatable once again on Saturday as he finished top of all three qualifying sessions. The race was surely his to lose, but a strategic horror show from Ferrari saw him finish down in fourth place.

Leclerc returned in 2024 with what looked to be his best chance yet of finally winning in Monaco. Red Bull’s dominance was in question, and Ferrari looked to be a different team under the steady leadership of Fred Vasseur. The Monegasque driver duly stuck it on pole with a mega lap in Q3 to once again put himself in prime position. An early red flag allowed the field to make their mandatory tyre changes, and it was simply up to Leclerc to manage his tyres to the end of the race, which he did better than anyone else.


Having kept Piastri behind him throughout, he picked up the pace with ten laps to go and built up a seven-second gap to take an emphatic and emotional victory. Leclerc fought back tears with two laps to go, and the post-race celebrations were enough to wet the eyes of millions watching at home.

It was quite incredible to see a Monegasque driver win in Monaco. Leclerc became the second to do so after Louis Chiron won the 1931 Monaco Grand Prix, although Leclerc holds the distinction of doing so as an F1 driver.


Gilles Villeneuve (1978 Canadian Grand Prix) 

The Canadian Grand Prix first appeared on the F1 calendar in 1967 and after several upheavals found its home at the Île Notre-Dame Circuit in Montreal in 1978. After years without a notable driver in F1, the Canadian fans arrived at that year’s race with a name to cheer for at last: Gilles Villeneuve.

Racing for Ferrari, the charismatic Villeneuve had captured the hearts of his home nation, and landed to a hero’s welcome in Montreal for the final race of the ’78 season. He’d scored his first podium four races earlier in Austria, and everyone hoped Villeneuve would score another strong result in Canada.


No one quite expected him to win it though. He qualified third, more than a second quicker than his team-mate Carlos Reutemann and drove a typically spirited race to find himself leading after Jean-Pierre Jarier retired with mechanical trouble with 20 laps to go.

From there he didn’t look back and stormed to one of the most popular victories in F1 history. It was a brilliant moment, as a Canadian driver took his first grand prix victory at his home race, and the post-race celebrations were suitably emotional as he was mobbed by his team in the pitlane before climbing onto the roof of the Ferrari garage.

It’s a memory that lives on today, as the Île Notre-Dame Circuit was renamed Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 1982 following Gilles’ death.


Ayrton Senna (1991 Brazilian Grand Prix)

Ayrton Senna was more than just an F1 driver, he was a beacon of light for the entire Brazilian nation, and his connection with this homeland was perhaps stronger than any other driver in the history of motorsport. His presence on the grid for 11 Brazilian Grands Prix from 1984-1994 generated many of the most remarkable atmospheres ever seen at an F1 race.

By the time he arrived at Interlagos in 1991, the Brazilian Grand Prix was one of only three races left on the calendar that he hadn’t won before. His previous seven attempts to win his home race were ravaged with a mix of bad luck and poor reliability that kept him from standing on the top step of the podium. He came close in 1986, but had to settle for second behind fellow Brazilian Nelson Piquet, while victory looked on the cards in 1990 until a collision with a backmarker damaged his car and dropped him to third. Senna had a score to settle in 1991.


He started the Brazilian Grand Prix from pole for the fifth time in his career and stormed into an early lead, although Nigel Mansell was piling on the pressure behind. For the first half of the race, it looked as though the Williams driver had better pace than Senna, but a puncture and eventual gearbox failure put Mansell out of contention.

Senna was also suffering gearbox trouble, he lost fourth gear with a third of the race still to run, and then third and fifth gears with a handful of laps to go. He was forced to complete the final tours in sixth gear under huge physical and mental strain, and crossed the finish line to win his home race only 2.9 seconds ahead of Riccardo Patrese.

His cries from inside the car as he completed his cool down lap are now legendary. As all the pain and emotion swept through Senna’s body he succumbed to exhaustion and had to be lifted from his car. The podium celebrations in front of his adoring fans were unforgettable.


Lewis Hamilton (2008 British Grand Prix)

Lewis Hamilton’s rise in F1 was unprecedented. He should have won the world championship at his first attempt, and his speed was already beyond question. And yet what happened at the 2008 British Grand Prix was still difficult to believe.

Hamilton had only managed to qualify fourth, some 0.8 seconds down on his team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, but damp conditions on Sunday promised an action-packed race. Hamilton made an instant impact into turn one, almost taking the lead as Kovalainen hung on through the exit. As several drivers struggled in treacherous conditions, Hamilton overtook his team-mate on lap five and sprinted into a commanding lead.

He engaged in a brief duel with Kimi Raikkonen as the Ferrari driver picked up the pace on a drying track, but following their first pit stops, where Raikkonen switched to dry tyres, the rain returned, and Hamilton, who had stuck with intermediates, disappeared into the distance once more.


While chaos ensued behind him, Hamilton remained imperious as he continued to pull away from his closest challengers. Felipe Massa, who had been leading the world championship prior to the race, spun off the track on five occasions over the course of the race, showcasing just how tricky the conditions were.

When Hamilton crossed the line to take victory at his home race, he was leading by more than a minute, and had lapped Raikkonen, who finished in fourth place. It was an incredibly dominant performance, with the largest winning margin since the 1995 Australian Grand Prix. Hamilton’s talent had never been in doubt, but his performance at Silverstone that day further cemented his status.


Ferrari (1988 Italian Grand Prix)

Ferrari has won the Italian Grand Prix more than any other F1 team, yet each and every time a red car wearing a Prancing Horse badge takes the chequered flag in Monza the explosion of emotion from the team and the Tifosi is unmatched. That was doubly true in 1988, when against all odds, Ferraris came home first and second in front of a jubilant Italian crowd.

The team’s founder and talisman Enzo Ferrari had died a month before that year’s Italian Grand Prix, and spirits were understandably low among the team and its fans, especially as Ferrari had failed to win a race all season in the face of McLaren’s unstoppable MP4/4.

Things looked set to follow a similar pattern as Senna and Prost lined up on the front row ahead of Ferrari’s two drivers Gerhard Berger and Michele Alboreto. The two McLarens disappeared into the distance and looked set for yet another easy victory. Then, on lap 35, Prost retired with an engine failure, promoting the Ferraris to second and third in the race.


Senna was still beyond reach however, and appeared to be cruising to victory until calamity struck with two laps to go. As the Brazilian was attempting to lap Jean-Louis Schlesser (who was filling in for an ill Nigel Manswell at Williams), the two made contact and put Senna out of the race.

Italy erupted as Ferraris finished one and two in the Italian Grand Prix crossing the line together in a perfect salute to the great Enzo Ferrari. Sometimes destiny is simply unshakeable.

Images courtesy of Motorsport Images. 

  • F1

  • Formula 1

  • Charles Leclerc

  • Ayrton Senna

  • Lewis Hamilton

  • Ferrari

  • Gilles Villeneuve

  • Monaco Grand Prix

  • Canadian Grand Prix

  • Brazilian Grand Prix

  • British Grand Prix

  • Italian Grand Prix

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