Lewis Hamilton tops first practice session in Monaco Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton

24th May 2024 – (Monaco) Seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton set the pace in the first free practice session of the Monaco Grand Prix, with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri delivering a surprise performance to deny Mercedes a one-two finish.

Despite expressing doubts about his prospects earlier, Hamilton, Formula One’s most successful driver and a three-time Monaco winner, recorded the fastest time of 1 minute 12.169 seconds on soft tyres.

Australian driver Piastri, also on softs, trailed Hamilton by a mere 0.029 seconds, securing an impressive second place on the timesheets. Mercedes’ George Russell claimed the third-fastest time, followed closely by McLaren’s Lando Norris in fourth.

Meanwhile, championship leader Max Verstappen of Red Bull had a challenging session, encountering several brushes with the barriers and finishing in 11th place, 0.815 seconds adrift of Hamilton. Verstappen did not complete a quick lap on the soft compound.

Verstappen expressed frustration over the team radio, citing the car’s instability on the bumpy track and its response to engine braking and brake bias adjustments.

Sergio Perez, Verstappen’s teammate, experienced a puncture during the session and ended up in 12th place.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, a local favourite who has yet to secure a podium finish in Monaco, achieved the fifth-fastest time. Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin secured sixth place, ahead of his Canadian teammate Lance Stroll.

Yuki Tsunoda of Red Bull and Daniel Ricciardo of McLaren secured the eighth and ninth spots, respectively, with Carlos Sainz of Ferrari completing the top 10.

The session was interrupted by red flags with 15 minutes remaining when Sauber’s Guanyu Zhou clipped the tyre wall, causing debris to scatter on the track. Leclerc ran over some of the debris, damaging his Ferrari in the process.

Verstappen currently leads Leclerc by 48 points after winning five out of seven races this season. Notably, Verstappen claimed victory in Monaco last year and has secured pole position for a record-equalling eight consecutive races, including seven this season.