The start of the Monaco Grand Prix raised hopes for a little variety in Formula 1 – but in the end Max Verstappen was just ahead. The world champion in the Red Bull secured the best time of the day in free practice, but with 1:12.462 minutes he was only a hair’s breadth ahead of Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari.
The duo was separated by 65 thousandths of a second, and Carlos Sainz in the second Ferrari was only a tenth behind Verstappen in third place. Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin (+0.220) was fourth. However, the Spaniard had to abandon a fast lap that could have given him the best time.
The reason: Some slow competitors rolled around on the ideal line. “These guys are incredible,” Alonso radioed to the pits, “I’m speechless.”
The weekend did not start very promisingly for Nico Hülkenberg and his Haas racing team. After a crash in the first practice session, the German finished Friday one second behind the leaders in 15th place, and his teammate Kevin Magnussen was only marginally faster.
At the top, Verstappen’s competition is hoping for an end to the Red Bull series in the sixth race of the season on Sunday (3 p.m. / Sky): So far, the world championship leader and his teammate Sergio Perez have won all races, but that should change on the street circuit. The Ferrari and the Aston Martin work well in slow corners, Red Bull is also deprived of the speed advantage on long straights in Monaco.
Friday showed that Red Bull can also be expected in Monaco – however, the lead is narrow, in addition to Ferrari, Alonso was also within striking distance before the important qualifying session on Saturday (4 p.m. / Sky). Red Bull also struggled at times with the vote, Perez was only seventh.
Meanwhile, Mercedes used its retreaded car for the first time. The new sidepods are obvious, and the former series world champions have also revised the underbody and the front wheel suspension. It was enough for Lewis Hamilton to finish sixth, while team-mate George Russell was only twelfth.