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Formula 1

Hamilton fastest, mixed fortunes for Monaco GP favourites in FP1

by Edd Straw
4 min read

Lewis Hamilton topped the opening free practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix, a session interrupted by a five-minute red flag caused by Sauber driver Zhou Guanyu shedding debris after a brush with the wall.

Zhou lost the rear in the first corner, and although he corrected this meant he was too wide at the exit and clipped the wall, with his front wing endplate sustaining significant damage and showering the track with debris. Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc was the next driver through and ran through the debris field, picking up a large piece of Sauber bodywork and suffering minor damage to the front of his floor.

The session restarted with 10 minutes remaining, but nobody was able to depose Hamilton who had set a time of 1m12.169s to take top spot from McLaren driver Oscar Piastri by 0.029 seconds before the red flag.

With the Mercedes working well in the slow corners and George Russell third-fastest, 0.126s slower than Hamilton, it was a promising start to the weekend for the team, which brought upgrades including a Monaco-specific rear/beam wing combination as well as a modified floor and front wing.


The expectation heading into the weekend was that the battle at the front will be between McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull. McLaren was on top of that group, with Norris backing up Piastri’s second place by setting the fourth-fastest time.

Leclerc, who was able to return to the track after the red flag after the front of his floor was patched up by the Ferrari team, was fifth and the quickest of those not to run the soft tyres.

Like team-mate Carlos Sainz, he started the session using hards then switched to mediums, meaning that the 0.228s pace deficit to the front is encouraging. Sainz ended up 10th, just under eight tenths off the pace.

However, Red Bull was conspicuous by its absence from the top 10.

Although Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez didn’t run the soft tyres, both struggled. Verstappen was only 11th fastest, 0.815s off the pace, with Perez one place and a quarter-of-a-second behind.

Verstappen complained that “the car is on a knife’s edge” and “so loose on the bumps”, while Perez reported traction troubles. Perez also picked up a puncture late on that curtailed his running.

Verstappen had several wall-brushing moments, notably in the Tabac right-hander where he grazed the advertising hoarding at the exit of the turn.


After a difficult Imola weekend, Aston Martin ended up sixth and seventh fastest courtesy of Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll, the duo separated by just 0.014s.

Both Aston Martin drivers set their time on softs, which was enough to put them ahead of RB duo Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo who both put in top-10 times having also used the Pirelli C5s.

Sauber, Haas and Williams drivers occupied 13th through to 17th with Valtteri Bottas heading that group - albeit with neither Haas nor Williams running the soft tyres.


Twelve months ago, Esteban Ocon bagged an unexpected podium finish for Alpine founded on qualifying a superb fourth (and starting third) but it was a slow start for the struggling French-owned squad this year.

Ocon had a trouble-free session but was only 18th, two seconds off the pace and complained during FP1 about the front end bouncing in corners. That lack of speed is no surprise for a car that has been weak in terms of traction so far this year, although Ocon did not run the soft tyres.

But team-mate Pierre Gasly had an even more difficult session as he was called in after four laps to investigate a power unit problem. He later headed back on track but reported “no power” and returned to the garage for work to be done on a what the team described as a wastegate issue.

He was able to return to the track at the end of the session on mediums, but could not climb off the bottom of the timesheets in his short run.

FP1 times

PosNameCarBest TimeGap Leader
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1m12.169s
2Oscar PiastriMcLaren-Mercedes1m12.198s+0.029s
3George RussellMercedes1m12.295s+0.126s
4Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1m12.396s+0.227s
5Charles LeclercFerrari1m12.397s+0.228s
6Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-Mercedes1m12.775s+0.606s
7Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1m12.789s+0.620s
8Yuki TsunodaRed Bull-Honda RBPT1m12.875s+0.706s
9Daniel RicciardoRB-Honda RBPT1m12.901s+0.732s
10Carlos SainzFerrari1m12.954s+0.785s
11Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPT1m12.984s+0.815s
12Sergio PérezRed Bull-Honda RBPT1m13.229s+1.060s
13Valtteri BottasSauber-Ferrari1m13.248s+1.079s
14Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1m13.390s+1.221s
15Alex AlbonWilliams-Mercedes1m13.425s+1.256s
16Nico HülkenbergHaas-Ferrari1m13.576s+1.407s
17Logan SargeantWilliams-Mercedes1m14.150s+1.981s
18Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1m14.159s+1.990s
19Guanyu ZhouSauber-Ferrari1m14.570s+2.401s
20Pierre GaslyAlpine-Renault1m15.574s+3.405s
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