Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was fastest in the first practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix, the Mexican set a 12.487 to put him ahead of the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz by a tenth. The session was rather uneventful with drivers managing to keep their cars mostly out the barriers, the only incident being when Kimi Raikkonen went straight on at Sainte Devote casing a yellow flag briefly.
Red Bull is hoping that this weekend they can score a decent number of points at the low-speed high downforce circuit in their tight battle in the championship with Mercedes. However, the practice sessions in monte Carlo tend to be about building confidence.
Sainz was the first to set a real competitive lap a 16.2 on mediums before working his way down to a 13.6 by the end of the session, at a circuit that is about grip and downforce. His best time was set on the medium being a 12.6, the Mercedes however steadily chipped away at it with Sir Lewis Hamilton just under four-tenths behind at the end of the session.
Things, however, didn’t get off to the best start for Sainz’s Monegasque teammate Charles Leclerc, he was only able to complete four laps before a gearbox issue brought his morning to a early close leaving him twentieth.
Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly made a good start to the weekend going ahead of the Mercedes in fourth, the Frenchman was a tenth quicker though on soft tyres than Hamilton with Valtteri Bottas sixth. Mercedes appearing to take the approach of steadily building up around the twisty and narrow streets of the principality.
But Mercedes believe that Red Bull are going to be the favourites this weekend, however Verstappen warned in Wednesday’s press conference they always say that and not to underestimate the seven-times champion.
Lando Norris was seventh fastest for McLaren leading the midfield, he was seven-tenths ahead of Sebastian Vettel. An encouraging start for the four-times champion going four-tenths ahead of teammate Lance Stroll who was eleventh fastest. McLaren with the one-off Gulf livery were using the session to experiment with set-up.
Yuki Tsunoda and Kimi Räikkönen rounding out the top ten, with Stroll splitting the two Alfa Romeo’s. Antonio Giovinazzi was twelfth fastest, ahead of the Alpine of Fernando Alonso, with the two-time champion having a minor off after misjudging his braking and tap with the wall at Sainte Devote as well as Antony Noghes.
Nicolas Latifi was fourteenth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, with the second Alpine of Esteban Ocon sixteenth. Nikita Mazepin ahead of Haas teammate Mick Schumacher by eight hundredths of a second and George Russell nineteenth.