Perez leads Sainz on F1’s return to Monaco

Charles Coates/Motorsport Images

Perez leads Sainz on F1’s return to Monaco

Formula 1

Perez leads Sainz on F1’s return to Monaco

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Sergio Perez hit the ground running as he led Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and his Red Bull Racing teammate Max Verstappen in first practice for the Monaco Grand Prix, while Fernando Alonso hit the wall.

Coming off the back of a tough weekend in Spain, Perez stated he has a good shot of winning this time out in Monaco and duly backed up that claim with the quickest time in the opening session. The Mexican’s lap of 1m12.487s on soft tires left him a little over 0.1s of Sainz, who was similarly impressive on the medium.

Although Ferrari will be pleased with that early show of pace from Sainz, on the other side of the garage Charles Leclerc’s awful luck at his home event continued. The Monegasque has never finished a race here, and he only managed four laps in FP1 before his running was ended by a gearbox problem.

Another caveat to the pace shown by Perez is that he posted his fastest time on the soft compound tire, while Verstappen in third place was on the mediums and just 0.161s adrift of his Red Bull teammate.

Pierre Gasly made it three Honda-powered cars in the top four as he also enjoyed a strong start to the weekend for AlphaTauri, but he was over a quarter of a second further back from Verstappen. Then came the Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, ending FP1 in fifth and sixth respectively and over half a second off the pace, having not run the soft compound at any stage.

McLaren’s new Gulf livery hit the track for the first time and finished up seventh in the standings courtesy of Lando Norris, although Daniel Ricciardo had a harder time of things as he was down in 15th and picked up two separate fines for speeding in the pit lane.

At 0.749s adrift, Norris was the final driver within a second of Perez, with Sebastian Vettel, Yuki Tsunoda and Kimi Raikkonen rounding out the top 10 but more than 1.2s off the pace. Raikkonen also had an excursion at Ste Devote, taking to the escape road at the first corner after a lock-up and having to spin his Alfa Romeo round to rejoin.

That wasn’t the most dramatic moment of the session though, as a similarly experienced driver first joined Raikkonen in going off at Ste Devote and then hit the wall at the final corner. Alonso was competitive in the Alpine in the sense that he was three places higher than his teammate Esteban Ocon, but early in the session he ran in too hot at Anthony Noghes and hit the barrier exiting the final corner.

The impact broke the Spaniard’s front wing but Alonso was able to return to the pits relatively untroubled during the brief Virtual Safety Car period to clear the debris, and Alpine found no further damage so he lost little in the way of track time.

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