Red Bull’s Sergio Perez has gone fastest in the crucial opening session of the Monaco Grand Prix. Ferrari are second with Carlos Sainz and last with Leclerc, the latter having gearbox problems.

For the only time in the season, track action started on Thursday, as a tradition for the Monaco Grand Prix. This is undoubtedly an important day for getting ready and learning the hardest track on the calendar, ahead of qualifying on Saturday.

Mercedes have only won one of the last three races at Monaco, with this being one of the weaker tracks on the calendar. With the shorter practice sessions this season it is crucial for both the title leaders and every other team to be on track as much as possible. Red flags are an ever-present possibility here too, adding to the importance of being out there.

The session went green, and a line of cars immediately left the pit lane. Everyone was out trying to get experience around the track and gain confidence. McLaren had a new livery for this weekend, a one-off retro livery with Gulf sponsorship.

Charles Leclerc had a rotten run of luck for his home race, and that continued. His session ended after nine minutes thanks to a gearbox failure, meaning the Monegasque lost an hour of running. Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz did not have such problems, leading the early running comfortably by over a second from Lewis Hamilton.

Williams seemed competitive early on with George Russell and Nicholas Latifi both in the top 12, ahead of both Alpine and Haas cars.

There was then a short Virtual Safety Car – Fernando Alonso hit the wall at the final corner, losing his front wing, but continued. Max Verstappen went fastest shortly after the VSC was withdrawn, knocking Sainz off the top spot. He did not stay atop the standings long, as Hamilton went top at the halfway stage. Kimi Raikkonen had a nasty lock up and ran off at Sainte Devote.

Pierre Gasly then went top, the AlphaTauri looking strong with only 0.06 seconds separating him, Sainz, and Hamilton with two-thirds gone in the session. Sainz then had an incident, tagging the rear against the wall at the Swimming Pool, and Alonso went off again, this time at Sainte Devote.

Then Verstappen went fastest again with teammate Sergio Perez second. The lap times had tumbled from 1:18s early on, to 1:12s with ten minutes left in the session. Perez then went P1 on the soft tires, a tenth ahead of Verstappen with the top six split by half a second. Sainz took second back off Verstappen late on, showing the good form of Ferrari in Monaco thus far.

In the end, it was Perez fastest. The Mexican was 0.119 seconds quicker than the second-placed Sainz, showing good form for the Ferrari driver. Verstappen was third with the fastest Mercedes being Hamilton in fifth. AlphaTauri showed good form with both drivers in the top 10.

The top 10 of the Monaco GP FP1:

PositionDriverTeamTime/Gap
1Sergio PerezRed Bull1.12.487
2Carlos SainzFerrari+0.119
3Max VerstappenRed Bull+0.161
4Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri+0.442
5Lewis HamiltonMercedes+0.508
6Valtteri BottasMercedes+0.644
7Lando NorrisMcLaren+0.749
8Sebastian VettelAston Martin+1.245
9Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri+1.259
10Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo+1.594

Journalist, writing various articles for ASN. MotoGP specialist and ASN's resident motorsports history nerd. Can generally be found screaming at stupid strategy choices while watching the tv.