Charles Leclerc led the way in both sessions. (Ferrari Photo)

Leclerc Paces Both Monaco Practice Sessions

MONACO — Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc set the pace for both practice sessions at the Monaco Grand Prix on Friday.

Leclerc’s fastest time came in the second practice, where he went two seconds quicker than the earlier session with a 1:12.656 lap of the famed street circuit.

“I think overall, whatever tracks we have been at this year, we’ve been competitive, so I think we have a very strong package overall,” Leclerc said. “In the corners has been our strength against the Red Bull – but as we’ve seen last year, we didn’t have a very competitive car, but we arrived in Monaco and were super quick. So, it could be that we have some good surprises and maybe other the teams, that we don’t expect to be fighting for pole, are actually there at the top. So, I think it will be an exciting weekend and I hope that for ourselves, we will be strong.”

Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz slotted in second for practice two, while Oracle Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez held the spot for the first practice. 

““It’s really nice to be back driving in Monaco, it’s always fun out there,” Perez said. “It has been a good few sessions today for us but the long runs were a bit difficult with the traffic, I couldn’t do more than two laps consistently. All in all, we seem to be lacking a bit compared to the Ferraris, they seem really strong. We will analyze the data and see what we can do but they seem to be very quick today. We were a little surprised by the gap to them today, we were expecting a gap but not such a gap as we’ve seen today. It means there is plenty of work to do and we will see tomorrow, Q3 is when it matters.”

Spanish Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen was fourth in both sessions, with a best time of 1:13.103.

“We tried quite a few different things with our set up today to see how the car is behaving, I was happier with the car in FP1 than in FP2,” Verstappen said. “If we get better balance we can attack the corners a bit more, then of course our lap times will improve. Clearly compared to Ferrari we still need to find more pace, so now it’s all about fine tuning and finding a better balance. The track feels different this year with the new cars, the cars are a bit heavier and slower and a bit more bumpy because they are stiffer. It’s still very hectic to drive around here and I can’t wait for qualifying tomorrow.”

George Russell was the lone Mercedes driver in the top 10 in practice two, after laying down a lap good enough for sixth. Lewis Hamilton struggled in both sessions, with his best result coming in practice one with a tenth place effort. 

Haas F1’s Kevin Magnussen led the American team in both sessions, placing 11th and 14th respectively.