Charles Leclerc was the fastest rider in the first practice session of the Monaco GP with a time of 1:14.531sec, leaving Sergio Perez at +0.039sec and Carlos Sainz at +0.70sec. Max Verstappen closed the fastest four in 0.181 seconds of the Monegasque driver’s time. There weren’t many surprises at the top of the timetables and there was still a lot of hidden play among the Ferrari drivers, who, unlike their direct competitors, hadn’t tried any tire compound other than the average.
McLaren – Lando Norris was behind the wheel of the MCL36 even though he was still being treated for tonsillitis – and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly finished the first workout at the helm of the “Second Pack”, after a lower quality session by Alpine and Haas, in addition to problems – Once again – at Alfa Romeo from Valtteri Bottas, which kept him from being on track for most of the 60-minute session.
Lewis Hamilton complained about the vacillation he feels at the Monaco circuit, which could mean problems for the team that improved its pace in the previous round.
Up front, nothing new. Red Bull is as fast as two Ferraris, but Carlos Sainz seems determined to respond to his bad moment. The differences between the four cars were very short in first practice, adding to the “thrill” as to who would take first place.
Good training from McLaren drivers. For a team that would have had problems initially in the slow corners of Monaco, it came before “Group Two”, a good sign to start the Monaco challenge. In the opposite direction, it looks like Valtteri Bottas who missed almost all of the practice due to problems with the brakes on his Alfa Romeo C42. In the same situation, Mick Schumacher, who felt gearbox problems, after the problem, did not return to the track and with that time to prepare for the Monaco Grand Prix.
Pierre Gasly, after a lower quality Spanish GP, finished the first practice session on the sixth time and separated the McLarens. These two teams finished the first practice leading the “second package,” while Alpine and Haas had a monotonous session outside the top ten.
At Mercedes, coming to Monaco with low expectations, as mentioned by Toto Wolff, George Russell was the fastest driver, but nonetheless scored lower than both the McLaren and Pierre Gasly drivers. Hamilton was always practically uncomfortable and closed the top ten, behind Sebastian Vettel for the ninth time.
Nicolas Latifi was the last driver to leave the pit, while Charles Leclerc was the first to set the fastest time with a time of 1:17.993 on the medium tyres. Teammate Carlos Sainz beat Monaco’s time, also on the medium tyres, dropping to 1:17.123 seconds. The Ferrari drivers were the only ones to have medium tires on the track, while everyone else rode solid tyres.
McLaren drivers took notice and improved Sainz’s time, but while times were falling backwards, Leclerc and Max Verstappen, then Sainz, moved to the front of the timetables.
With 10 minutes to go to the end of the session, Lewis Hamilton complained about the team’s ‘porpoise’, when he finished fifth at the quickest time.
At the same moment that Max Verstappen improved Leclerc’s time (1:15.327sec), he was still on the hard tyres, the Ferrari driver failed to brake at Sainte Devote and had to leave a small gap to get back on the track.
After 15 minutes of the free practice session, Valtteri Bottas and Nicholas Latifi were the only two riders to have time off.
Mick Schumacher was forced to stop the session momentarily, after having problems with the gearbox at Haas and not being able to enter the parking lane, he crossed in that area to prevent the entry of opponents. The Marshals’ quick response, upon recovering the Haas VF-22, meant the downtime was a few minutes.
After the 30-minute session, Max Verstappen tops the schedule with a time of 1:15.327sec, followed by Lewis Hamilton (+0.172sec) and Daniel Ricciardo. Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris closed the top five.
Moments later, Lance Stroll complained about the looseness of the front tires, asked to get back into the pits and Lando Norris, on medium tires, took the lead on the timesheets, with a time of 1:15.301.
Some of the riders installed soft tires on the individual seats, such as Sebastian Vettel – who climbed to third in the timetables, 0.331sec from Norris – and Alexander Albon.
Pierre Gasly, on the medium tires and with about 23 minutes left in the session, jumped to second in the timetables, 0.094 seconds behind Norris’ time. Meanwhile, George Russell was on a very strong fast lap, which made him the third fastest at the time, 0.155 seconds behind the McLaren driver.
Moving to the top of the timesheets (1:14.712secs), Verstappen shortly thereafter locked the brakes on Turn 1 and stopped at the exit, at the same time as Carlos Sainz was on a big lap, until he moved forward in the pool area..and aborted the return.
The two Ferraris entered the final 10 minutes at the top of the timetables, with Leclerc (1:14.531s) ahead of Sainz, until Sergio Perez improved his earlier time and separated the Scuderia opponents, staying 0.039secs off Leclerc.
Until the end, the top drivers didn’t improve their times, but we did see some picnics in front of the Ferrari drivers in the great road after the tunnel, apparently the team focused their analysis work on only the first sector.