F1 – Hamilton Quickest In Opening Practice For Monaco Grand Prix As Zhou Brings Out Red Flags

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheet in the opening practice session for this weekend’s 2024 FIA Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix beating McLaren’s Oscar Piastri by 0.029, with George Russell third in the other Mercedes. Seven-time champion Hamilton’s best time came just before the session was briefly halted due to debris on the track caused by Kick Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu clipping the wall in Turn 1.

The opening hour of practice at the Circuit de Monaco proved busy from the start as drivers began to build confidence on the narrow, demanding track. Piastri led the early laps with a 1:18.002s, set on Medium tyres, with championship leader Max Verstappen just 0.047s behind in second place. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc then went quickest with a lap of 1:14.238 before Verstappen dipped below 1m14s to set the benchmark at 1:13.974s – also on mediums.

McLaren’s Lando Norris emerged on Hard tyres and he grabbed P1 0.04s ahead of Verstappen, before Leclerc went quicker again with a lap of 1:13.343s on the C3 Pirelli Hard tyres. The local hero then worked down to 1:13.132 before Piatsri bolted on a set of Soft compound Pirelli C5s and returned to the top of the order with a 1:12.618.

Russell then eclipsed the McLaren driver with a 1:12.295 but Piastri found more time on his next run to post a lap of 1:12.198 and again move to the top of the pile.

Hamilton, who had briefly joined Russell at the top before Piastri’s table topper, then found more pace to post a session-best time of 1:12.169 on Soft tyres. The session was then halted when Zhou Guanyu overcooked his entry to Sainte Devote and clipped the barrier. The contact knocked off a section of his front wing and showered debris across the track. Leclerc picked up the endplate of Zhou’s Kick Sauber which became lodged underneath his Ferrari and the red flags were shown.

The debris was quickly cleared but there were no major improvements in the final 10 minutes and Hamilton’s best time stood to the flag.

Behind Russell, Norris took fourth while Leclerc finished in fourth place just 0.001s behind the McLaren driver. Fernando Alonso was sixth, over half a second off Hamilton, but just 0.014s ahead of Aston Martin team-mate Lance Stroll, while eighth and ninth places were taken by RB’s Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo respectively. The top 10 order was rounded out by Carlos Sainz in the second Ferrari.

Verstappen, meanwhile, finished in P11, just ahead of Red Bull team-mate Sergio Pérez who suffered a puncture during a session in which both struggled with poor car balance.

2024 FIA Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:12.169 35 166.459
2 Oscar Piastri McLaren/Mercedes 1:12.198 0.029 31 166.392
3 George Russell Mercedes 1:12.295 0.126 35 166.169
4 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 1:12.396 0.227 33 165.937
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:12.397 0.228 33 165.935
6 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:12.775 0.606 26 165.073
7 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:12.789 0.620 26 165.041
8 Yuki Tsunoda RB/Honda RBPT 1:12.875 0.706 34 164.846
9 Daniel Ricciardo RB/Honda RBPT 1:12.901 0.732 36 164.787
10 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:12.954 0.785 35 164.668
11 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda RBPT 1:12.984 0.815 29 164.600
12 Sergio Pérez Red Bull/Honda RBPT 1:13.229 1.060 29 164.049
13 Valtteri Bottas Sauber/Ferrari 1:13.248 1.079 28 164.007
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1:13.390 1.221 33 163.689
15 Alexander Albon Williams/Mercedes 1:13.425 1.256 34 163.611
16 Nico Hülkenberg Haas/Ferrari 1:13.576 1.407 34 163.276
17 Logan Sargeant Williams/Mercedes 1:14.150 1.981 36 162.012
18 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 1:14.159 1.990 33 161.992
19 Zhou Guanyu Sauber/Ferrari 1:14.570 2.401 30 161.099
20 Pierre Gasly Alpine/Renault 1:15.574 3.405 10 158.959

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