Local hero Charles Leclerc beat Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez and Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz to claim top spot in the opening practice session for this weekend’s FIA Formula 1 2022 Monaco Grand Prix.
Leclerc restricted himself to Pirelli’s C4 medium compound tyres for the whole one-hour session to eventually post a best time of 1:14.531 that saw him finish three hundredths of a second ahead of Pérez, whose best time came late in the session. Sainz was just 0.070
behind his team-mate, while championship leader Max Verstappen finished fourth as he focused on the C3 hard compound .
Verstappen’s early laps were marked by complaints that his DRS wasn’t working, a similar problem to that which hampered him a few days ago in Barcelona but after a flurry of fastest laps from the McLarens of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, and Leclerc who posted a time of 1:17.993, Verstappen jumped to P1 with a lap of 1:16.582.
It was a less easy ride around the Principality for Mercedes, however, with both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell suffering porpoising on the bumpy streets of Monaco. Verstappen lowered his own benchmark to 1:15.933 before Leclerc, on mediums, ousted him with a lap of 1:15.714. As Verstappen worked through his run he found more pace and he soon bounced Leclerc out of top spot with a lap of 1:15.327. The session was then halted by a brief red flag period as Mick Schumacher was forced to stop at the pit exit with a suspected gearbox issue.
The action resumed after a four-minute delay and when running began again it was McLaren who vaulted to the top as Norris, on medium tyres, set a lap of 1:15.056 to head team-mate Ricciardo by two tenths of a second. AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly then split the McLaren’s before Russell stole third from Ricciardo.
However, in the final quarter of an hour, Verstappen eclipsed them all with a lap of 1:14.7132 as he bolted on medium tyres. Leclerc moved second, 0.003s off Verstappen, but then found more pace to take P1. Pérez was then able to improve to within four hundredths, as Sainz ended FP1 with a best lap of 1:14.601.
Behind the top four, Norris held on to fifth place, 0.525 behind Leclerc, with Gasly sixth ahead of Ricciardo and Russell. Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel finished in ninth place, eight tenths down on the lead Ferrari, and the top -10 order was completed by Lewis Hamilton who finished 0.968 off top spot.
2022 FIA Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 29 1:14.531
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 30 1:14.570 0.039
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 28 1:14.601 0.070
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 26 1:14.712 0.181
5 Lando Norris McLaren 31 1:15.056 0.525
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 33 1:15.083 0.552
7 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 33 1:15.157 0.626
8 George Russell Mercedes 34 1:15.211 0.680
9 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 33 1:15.387 0.856
10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 29 1:15.499 0.968
11 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 36 1:15.536 1.005
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 26 1:15.539 1.008
13 Fernando Alonso Alpine 28 1:15.749 1.218
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas 30 1:15.806 1.275
15 Alex Albon Williams 39 1:16.110 1.579
16 Esteban Ocon Alpine 24 1:16.315 1.784
17 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 27 1:16.417 1.886
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams 30 1:17.714 3.183
19 Mick Schumacher Haas 12 1:18.636 4.105
20 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 2