Lewis Hamilton was fastest in first practice for this weekends Monaco Grand Prix, after outpacing Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by five-hundredths of a second. The five-times champion lead his teammate Valtteri Bottas for much of the session.
Then Verstappen managed to find some pace in the Red Bull to slot himself in between. Monaco is a circuit which rapidly gets faster, as the Silver Arrows got to work, they soon went straight to the top of the times. This weekend the team are looking to take a fifth one-two.
It wasn’t trouble free for the Dutchman, he just started a soft run when he went down the escape road at Mirabeau after commencing his run on fresh softs and requiring help from the marshals to reverse and get going again.
Ferrari still remained off the mark, Charles Leclerc going fourth ahead of Sebastian Vettel. The Monacan heading into his home race was three tenths off Hamilton, as well as being well ahead of his four-time champion teammate by three tenths.
This was billed as a crutch race once again for Ferrari, as Monaco removes the pace advantage that Mercedes has because of its low speed and high downforce. But early on it appears Ferrari hasn’t got on top of the issues they have been struggling with their chassis, particularly in slow corners, which there are many of in Monaco.
Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly was sixth, the slowest of the top three teams after being a second off the pace. The Frenchman had his own issues, he caught the car before he slid into the wall through the Swimming Pool. But the whole session past relatively trouble-free.
Nico Hulkenberg was seventh ahead of the Haas of Kevin Magnussen. However, it was not an easy session, Haas was ordered to stop running because a telemetry and radio issue, which forced it to request the FIA to black-flag both of its drivers on the opening run.
Magnussen was five thousandths behind the German, while Romain Grosjean was tenth behind the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen. The second Renault of Daniel Ricciardo was eleventh, last years race winner almost two thousandths behind his teammate.
Toro Rosso was alone in running the medium tyre in the second half of the session, and had Daniil Kvyat as its leading driver in thirteenth, with Alex Albon fourteenth, almost a tenth between them.
Racing Point worked on the hard tyre, late on, with Sergio Perez heading its efforts in sixteenth.
It was a difficult session for McLaren, Lando Norris only sixteenth while teammate Carlos Sainz was last. The Spaniard sitting out most of the session with an electronics issue and unable to record a timed lap.
Sainz did manage to get on to the track only for one ‘installation’ lap right at the end of the session but the team said that he should be ‘OK’ for second practice.
Both Williams made it off the back row slotting behind the Racing Point of Sergio Perez. George Russell seventeenth, but still massively off the outright pace, and Robert Kubica eighteenth four tenths off his teammate.