Leclerc plays local hero in second Monaco GP practice

Steven Tee/Motorsport Images

Leclerc plays local hero in second Monaco GP practice

Formula 1

Leclerc plays local hero in second Monaco GP practice

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Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz elevated Ferrari to an unlikely session-topping performance in Friday afternoon practice at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Monaco native Leclerc was among the last to set his fastest time, his best effort coming with 20 minutes remaining, to set a fastest time of 1m11.684s. It was a strong rebound result for the 23-year-old, who retired from first practice with a gearbox problem after only four laps.

Teammate Sainz consolidated on his second place from the morning to finish second again the afternoon, the Spaniard looking thoroughly comfortable around the city streets. After running a long 14-lap stint on the hard tire in the morning — he was the only driver to try that compound in the afternoon — he set a time 0.112s shy of his teammate.

The best championship leader Lewis Hamilton could manage was third in his Mercedes and 0.390s off the pace. The Briton spent the first half of the session trading fastest laps with Max Verstappen, who was fourth for Red Bull Racing, with both drivers visibly pushing their machinery in pursuit of an advantage.

The final corner, Anthony Noghes, threatened to claim Verstappen early when the Dutchman got on the power too soon and slipped perilously close to the outside barrier, while Hamilton got away with a slide over the curbs at the Nouvelle chicane that almost pitched him into the wall on exit. Verstappen complained later in the session that he was yet to find the right balance around the street circuit.

Valtteri Bottas followed in fifth in the second Mercedes and only 0.033s slower than his teammate, while the FP1-topping Sergio Perez was more than a second off the pace in eighth.

McLaren’s Lando Norris and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly filled the intervening places in sixth and seventh respectively.

Alfa Romeo teammates Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen were ninth and 11th and split by Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel. The German complained that he felt like his eyes were bleeding early in the session but carried on, radioing his team, “I’m just super emotional, there’s something stuck in my eye.”

Fernando Alonso kept out of the barriers for 12th ahead of Lance Stroll and Esteban Ocon, with Daniel Ricciardo following in 15th. The Australian seemed sure to end the session higher in the order with his best lap before encountering heavy traffic in the final sector that spoiled the time.

Teammates George Russell and Nicholas Latifi followed, the latter after reversing through the hairpin when he ran too deep and failed to navigate F1’s slowest corner.

Nikita Mazepin was 18th ahead of Haas teammate Mick Schumacher, the German causing a red flag in the final minutes of the session when he lost control of his car and scraped along the barriers at Massenet, breaking his rear-right suspension.

Yuki Tsunoda was last in the order after whacking the right-hand side of his car against the wall exiting the swimming pool chicane, restricting him to just 11 laps.

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