Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton took top spot in the opening practice session for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, edging Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by just under six hundredths of a second.
Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas kept a hold on the top two places on the timesheet for a significant part of the session, with the pair trading times as the ‘green’ track began to gain some grip and drivers began to get a feel for the conditions.
Hamilton eventually took a slender 0.072s lead over Bottas with a final run on soft tyres before moving to longer runs for the rest of the session but the Finnish driver was later bumped to third when Verstappen bolted on oft tyres and set a time of 1:12.165 to finish just 0.059s off Hamilton’s benchmark.
However, the Dutchman’s P2 flyer was logged after and initial attempt resulted in a trip up the escape road at Mirabeau.
Charles Leclerc finished as the best-placed Ferrari, in fourth place, but the local hero was still 0.361s off the pace. Team-mate Sebastian Vettel finished in fifth place, though the four-time champion ended the session 0.356 behind Leclerc as he made a steady start to the weekend.
Sixth place went to Pierre Gasly in the second Red Bull, though the French driver was a full second behind team-mate Verstappen. There was also a nervous moment for Gasly when he lost grip in the Swimming Pool section and slid wide before just managing to regain control and stay clear of the barriers.
Nico Hulkenberg gave Renault hope of a decent weekend with seventh place, a little under six hundredths of a second behind Gasly. Kevin Magnussen of Haas took eighth place ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen, and the top ten was rounded out by Romain Grosjean in the second Haas.
It wasn’t a trouble-free session for Haas, however, as telemetry and radio issues led to the team request that black flags be shown to their drivers early in the session. They made it out in the final half hour and quickly rose up the order to take good finishing positions. McLaren’s Carlos Sainz also remained in the garage with a technical problem.
Aside from Gasly’s spin it was a relatively incident-free session, though Robert Kubica also suffered a spin at Casino in the final half hour and brushed the barrier with the front wing of his Williams.
2019 Monaco Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 47 1:12.106
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 35 1:12.165 0.059
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 43 1:12.178 0.072
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 25 1:12.467 0.361
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 36 1:12.823 0.717
6 Pierre Gasly Red Bull Racing 41 1:13.170 1.064
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 45 1:13.227 1.121
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas 24 1:13.232 1.126
9 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 39 1:13.363 1.257
10 France Romain Grosjean Haas 23 1:13.379 1.273
11 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 41 1:13.413 1.307
12 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 39 1:13.437 1.331
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 40 1:13.731 1.625
14 Alex Albon Toro Rosso 45 1:13.827 1.721
15 Lando Norris McLaren 39 1:14.278 2.172
16 Sergio Perez Racing Point 40 1:14.566 2.460
17 George Russell Williams 40 1:15.115 3.009
18 Robert Kubica Williams 24 1:15.514 3.408
19 Lance Stroll Racing Point 37 1:16.135 4.029
20 Carlos Sainz McLaren 4 2:00.670 48.564