Leclerc leads Hamilton in second Monaco GP practice

Charles Leclerc edged Lewis Hamilton for the fastest time at the end of Friday practice at the Monaco Grand Prix as Max Verstappen’s opening-session struggles continued.

Leclerc steered his well-poised Ferrari to the three fastest sectors of the afternoon to string together a best time of 1m11.278s, beating last year’s pole time by 0.087s. Hamilton, fastest in the day’s opening session, was 0.188s further back as his closest challenger.

The Briton was the only driver within touching distance of the leader. Last year’s runner-up, Fernando Alonso, slotted into third, though the Spaniard in his upgraded Aston Martin was 0.475s off the pace.


But Max Verstappen fared even worse, the Dutchman struggling with ride quality issues after suffering similar setup problems last weekend in Imola. Verstappen described his RB20 as being on a knife’s edge during FP1, though he didn’t sample the soft tire in the opening hour.

Equipping himself with the grippiest tires for the first time did little to ameliorate his problems, however, with the championship leader ending the hour 0.535s off the pace after his first flying lap. The Dutchman was forced to abandon his second attempt when he hit the wall approaching Portier.

“I’m jumping like a kangaroo,” he complained over team radio. “I‘m getting headaches. It’s crazy.”

Both he and teammate Sergio Perez, who ended the hour eighth and 0.286s further back, suffered with poor ride as the team attempted to match the car to Monte Carlo’s high curbs, a long-running weakness of Red Bull Racing machinery.

“The ride is horrendous,” Perez said, his car appearing to bottom out all the way up the hill from Sainte Devote to Massenet. “I cannot see the apex of [Turn] 3 from the front.”

Lando Norris was fifth quickest for McLaren, making it five different constructors setting the five fastest times of the day.

Carlos Sainz was notably less comfortable than session-topping teammate Leclerc, lapping 0.684s off the pace. A massive 0.365s of that deficit was lost to the Monaco native in the first sector alone.

Lance Stroll was seventh ahead of the struggling Perez, with Alex Albon’s Williams and George Russell’s Mercedes — the latter complaining of potential steering torque problems — completing the top 10.

Yuki Tsunoda and Oscar Piastri were 11th and 12th and more than a second off the pace, but neither used the soft tire during the session, setting their best times on the mediums.

Kevin Magnussen was 13th ahead of Daniel Ricciardo — the Australian also eschewed the softs — and Pierre Gasly, who clocked up 35 laps after his aborted first practice session due to power unit problems.

Logan Sargeant was 18th and slowest of the soft-shod runners, with Sauber teammates Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu behind him but not using the softest compound through the session.

Story originally appeared on Racer