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Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz tops the timesheets in the first practice session at the Monaco Grand Prix, as Red Bull driver Max Verstappen struggles with his car balance.
After an unexpected two weeks away, Formula 1 returns to the Crown Jewel around the tight and tricky streets of Monte Carlo. The drivers will have to be at full focus to avoid the barriers around the narrow corners.
Red Bull driver Sergio Perez exit the pitlane first followed by Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz – the two drivers on the top two steps of the podium last year in Monaco.
Perez set the first time of the session with a 1:28.429 on the hard compound tyre. The Mexican was quickly beaten by Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas, setting a 1:26.993 on the same compound.
Bottas’ teammate Zhou Guanyu would then rise to the top with a 1:23.754 on the hard tyre, before Fernando Alonso smashed that time with a 1:20.403 on the same compound.
McLaren driver Lando Norris would rise to the top with the Briton setting a 1:18.618 on the medium tyre. However, five minutes into the session, Alonso would go down into the 1:17’s, setting a 1:17.296 on the hard compound.
Norris would then reclaim the top spot, going down into the 1:16’s, setting a 1:16.875 with home hero Charles Leclerc 0.193 seconds adrift from the Briton.
Issues creeping in
Haas driver Nico Hulkenburg would briefly find himself at the top of the timesheets. The German set a 1:16.326 on the hard compound tyre. However, that would be short lived as Leclerc would break into the 1:15’s, setting a 1:15.931 on the medium tyre.
Whilst times were flourishing in, some drivers were not happy with their cars. Red Bull driver Max Verstappen claimed that his Red Bull RB19 car was “bottoming out”, leading to the Dutchman pitting as he was worried of “shunting” the car.
Both Briton drivers Norris and Hamilton were not happy with their McLaren and Mercedes cars. Norris complained of his car “underrotating”, leading to the McLaren driver’s rears getting hot. Hamilton was not happy with how easily his rears were getting hot, leading to less grip from the rear of the car.
Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz hit the wall at the Swimming Pool Chicane – the same place that damaged Leclerc’s suspension during qualifying at the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix. However, the Spaniard was left unscathed from the contact with the wall.
Instead, the Ferrari driver carried on setting quick times. The Spaniard set a 1:14.770 on the medium compound tyre – only two tenths off teammate Leclerc on the same compound.
However, Sainz would better his Monegasque teammate, going to the top of the timesheet, setting a 1:14.401. The Spaniard would further improve his time minutes later, going one-and-a-half tenths quicker, setting a 1:14.245 on the same compound.
30 minutes in, Hamilton went to the top of the timesheets. The Briton set a time of a 1:14.035. Meanwhile, teammate George Russell was complaining about his brakes. The Briton claimed that they “were not decelerating very well”.
Russell five minutes later was saying that he could just simply not get the tyres working. The Mercedes driver expanded on his point, saying that he would be sliding out of turns three and four.
With 24 minutes of the session to go, a red flag was shown to all of the drivers. German driver Nico Hulkenburg hit the barrier to the left on entry into the Nouvelle Chicane. The impact punctured the Haas drivers’ left rear tyre and sent him into a spin. The 35-year-old had to drive to the pits very cautiously to not damage anything on the car.
The session would resume shortly after with the incident not being a serious one. Alonso wasted no time on the restart, rising to the top of the times with a 1:13.907 on the medium compound tyre.
However, fellow Spaniard Sainz would pip Alonso to the top, going 0.058 seconds quicker than the Aston Martin driver. The Ferrari driver set a time of a 1:13.690.
Meanwhile, reigning world champion Max Verstappen was not happy with his car still. The Dutchman lost the rear of his RB19 going into the Swimming Pool Chicane.
With five minutes to go, Sainz improved his time yet again. The Spaniard went three tenths quicker, setting a 1:13.372 on the medium compound tyre. As for his teammate Leclerc, the Monegasque lost the rear of his car at the same place as Verstappen on entry to the Swimming Pool Chicane. Fortunately, the 24-year-old managed to keep it out of the barriers.
The session would end with Williams driver Alex Albon crashing on exit at Turn One, damaging his left side of his Williams car completely.
- Carlos Sainz
- Fernando Alonso
- Lewis Hamilton
- Sergio Perez
- Charles Leclerc
- Max Verstappen
- Lando Norris
- Esteban Ocon
- Lance Stroll
- Alex Albon
- Valtteri Bottas
- Kevin Magnussen
- Yuki Tsunoda
- Pierre Gasly
- George Russell
- Nyck de Vries
- Oscar Piastri
- Logan Sargeant
- Zhou Guanyu
- Nico Hulkenburg
Feature Image Credit: @F1 on Twitter