Monaco GP: Game on as Red Bull’s rivals deny Max Verstappen a top-10 spot in FP1

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton coming out of the Monaco tunnel

Lewis Hamilton exits the tunnel in Monaco

Lewis Hamilton fired the first salvo at the Monaco Grand Prix as the Mercedes driver topped the timesheets in FP1 ahead of Oscar Piastri.

Interestingly Red Bull finished outside the top ten, although it should be noted that neither Max Verstappen or Sergio Perez ran the soft tyres while Ferrari also stuck with the mediums for the session.

Lewis Hamilton sets the pace in FP1 for the Monaco GP

FP1 for the Monaco Grand Prix, last held on a Thursday in 2021, got underway on Friday afternoon with the drivers quickly into the action, anticipating crashes, red flags and curtailed running.

It took just five minutes for all 20 drivers to post a lap time with Lando Norris P1 on a 1:15.2, and George Russell propping up the timesheet with a 1:18.2.

Nico Hulkenberg explored the run-off area after a lock-up at Turn 1, Carlos Sainz went straight on at the chicane, and Charles Leclerc went quickest on the streets he grew up on.

Pierre Gasly’s early-season woes continue with the Alpine driver told to box with a “PU” problem. A quick reset in the garage and the Frenchman was back out on track only to report “no power”. He returned to the pits with all of six laps on the board.

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While Alpine worked on Gasly’s A524, Leclerc lowered the benchmark to a 1:13.1, Valtteri Bottas pulled off an impressive 360′ at Ste Devote, Carlos Sainz made it a Ferrari 1-2, Yuki Tsunoda shot up to third place, and Esteban Ocon complained that his “front is bouncing quite a bit”.

Halfway through the session Alpine announced that Gasly’s running was “likely” over for the session due to a “wastegate issue on the car.”

Verstappen, reporting his “car is on a knife-edge”, kissed the barrier with his rear-right tyre. He still improved to third place, slotting in behind Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton.

Oscar Piastri was the first of the top drivers to swap to the soft Pirellis, immediately P1 before he was overhauled by Russell only to bounce back with a 1:12.1 before Hamilton went 0.029s faster and Zhou Guanyu lost a piece of his front wing, which Leclerc picked up “under the floor”.

And out came the red flags as the Ferrari driver dropped the debris from Zhou’s car, the session stopped for the marshals to clean the track. Unfortunately for Leclerc, the debris damaged a bit of Leclerc’s floor with Ferrari taping it up.

The session was back underway with 13 minutes remaining, the drivers taking to the track on a mix of soft, medium and even the hard Pirellis. Down in 12th place, Sergio Perez made a late pit stop for new tyres having suffered a left-rear puncture.

The session ended with Hamilton up in P1 with a 1:12.169, 0.029s ahead of Piastri with Russell third. As for the Red Bulls, Verstappen was P11 having not run the soft tyres with Perez 12th.

Times

1 Lewis HAMILTON 1:12.169
2 Oscar PIASTRI +0.029
3 George RUSSELL +0.126
4 Lando NORRIS +0.227
5 Charles LECLERC +0.228
6 Fernando ALONSO +0.606
7 Lance STROLL +0.620
8 Yuki TSUNODA +0.706
9 Daniel RICCIARDO +0.732
10 Carlos SAINZ +0.785
11 Max VERSTAPPEN +0.815
12 Sergio PEREZ +1.060
13 Valtteri BOTTAS +1.079
14 Kevin MAGNUSSEN +1.221
15 Alexander ALBON +1.256
16 Nico HULKENBERG +1.407
17 Logan SARGEANT +1.981
18 Esteban OCON +1.990
19 Guanyu ZHOU +2.401
20 Pierre GASLY +3.405

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