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Formula 1

What happened in frenetic opening Monaco GP F1 practice

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
4 min read

Ferrari Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz topped the opening practice session of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, which was curtailed by a crash for Alex Albon.

Key moments:

> Four different cars in top four

> Hamilton third in upgraded Mercedes

> Albon shunt one of two red flags

> Verstappen unhappy with his RB19

Albon shunted his Williams after going sideways through Ste Devote with around four minutes left on the clock, bringing out a red flag that race control soon announced would mark the end of the session.

The Thai driver reported he was unhurt but “banged my knees”, with the left-rear suspension of the car wrecked in the initial impact and the front-left following suit.

The red flag denied the chance for anyone to dislodge Sainz, who had spent much of the session out front.

He led a Ferrari 1-2 after the opening runs – albeit with the Ferrari duo just two of the three drivers in the field to opt for mediums rather than hards – and then reclaimed top spot with a 1m13.372s after swapping for a fresh set of mediums.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Monaco Grand Prix Practice Day Monte Carlo, Monaco

Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso ended up his nearest rival, three tenths off, at one point particularly exasperated by traffic in the form of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.

Perez was the lead Red Bull, and only fourth, 0.003s behind the upgraded Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.

The seven-time champion had had a much smoother run in the new-look W14 than team-mate George Russell, who struggled with tyre temperature and a “weak rear” throughout and only placed 15th.

F1 Grand Prix Of Monaco Practice

A potential late improvement went begging for Charles Leclerc in the Swimming Pool section, leaving him fifth, ahead of championship leader Max Verstappen – the last driver within a second of Sainz.

Verstappen was unhappy with his RB19 throughout the session, ending his initial run early because he felt he was “going to shunt with the car set up like this”. Changes in the pits made it “a little bit better” but it was still “really not good” according to Verstappen.

The special-liveried McLaren was seventh in the hands of Lando Norris.

A first red flag – a brief one, for debris – had interrupted the track action shortly after the halfway point as Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg tagged the inside wall in the entry part of the Nouvelle Chicane, doing damage to his VF-23’s wheel rim and with the tyre puncturing and dislodging itself.

Haas did not expect the damage to be “terminal” for the session, but ran out of time to get Hulkenberg back out on track.

The only other driver to be caught up in a major drama was Logan Sargeant, Albon’s Williams team-mate.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Monaco Grand Prix Practice Day Monte Carlo, Monaco

The American rookie had just gone out for his second run, swapping hards to mediums, when he reported a “weird sound” and “no drive”, nursing his FW45 back to the pits.

A rear-right issue had been the culprit, the Williams mechanics having to put in a prolonged effort to remove the wheel, and the team being “noted” by the stewards for a potential case of having sent a car out in an unsafe condition.

But Sargeant did at least get to add double-digit laps to his tally after the problem.

Practice 1 Results

Pos Name Car Best Time Gap Leader
1 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1m13.372s
2 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m13.71s +0.338s
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m14.035s +0.663s
4 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1m14.038s +0.666s
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m14.093s +0.721s
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1m14.244s +0.872s
7 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1m14.467s +1.095s
8 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1m14.585s +1.213s
9 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m14.653s +1.281s
10 Alex Albon Williams-Mercedes 1m14.666s +1.294s
11 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m14.718s +1.346s
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m14.725s +1.353s
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 1m14.82s +1.448s
14 Pierre Gasly Alpine-Renault 1m14.866s +1.494s
15 George Russell Mercedes 1m15.066s +1.694s
16 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 1m15.083s +1.711s
17 Oscar Piastri McLaren-Mercedes 1m15.192s +1.82s
18 Logan Sargeant Williams-Mercedes 1m15.557s +2.185s
19 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m15.684s +2.312s
20 Nico Hülkenberg Haas-Ferrari 1m15.785s +2.413s
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