Carlos Sainz topped FP1 at the 2023 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix ahead of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, while Max Verstappen finished sixth for Red Bull.
Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas set the fastest time of 1m26.993s, but that was quickly improved with successive fastest times from Zhu Guanyu, Fernando Alonso, Hamilton and Lando Norris, the first place benchmark in 10th place at the end of the race’s final one-hour session to open five minutes.
Alonso and Norris swapped positions at the front, the latter and the two Ferrari drivers the only runners to use medium tires in the first round, all the others gaining confidence at each visit and benefiting from the stretched F1 rubber. On a narrow, winding, urban track.
With five minutes to go, Charles Leclerc’s second flyer sent him 1m15.931s ahead of Scientist, who broke through the barrier on the inside of the second section of the pool but escaped unscathed in his Ferrari minutes before and sprinted ahead. in 1m15.198s.
After a brief trip to the Ferrari garage, Leclerc returned to the front in 1m15.037s as his team-mate continued to beat him.
Leclerc’s next flyer lowered his benchmark to 1m14.562s before Sainz finished the session 20 minutes quicker at 1m14.401s, which he hit with a 1m14.245 before heading to the pits with the rest of the pack.
At this stage, Alonso was third with Verstappen fourth and the Ferrari drivers were complaining that their early set-up was causing too much downforce, not matching the maximum mass once the drivers entered. He was going to “lose”.
Moments later, Hamilton posted a 1m14.035s and took advantage of the media for the first time ahead of the Ferrari pair at the head of the times.
Verstappen used the media to make up time, but after two laps he still missed Red Bull’s adjustments and improved his ride, still falling short of Sainz’s previous benchmark and “still doing the same thing on the bumps – not really good”.
Told he would have to live with the problem ahead of FP2, a raft of changes were made, with George Russell complaining that he couldn’t get the tires to work properly in the updated Mercedes W14, which caused the rear to slip too much – with the Brit languishing outside the top 10 heading into the final 25 minutes.
Just as Alonso moved 0.064s behind Hamilton’s lead, the session was cut short after Nico Hulkenberg suffered an incident in the chicane on the tunnel exit.
The Haas driver, facing the steep rise, spun the compound’s left rear tire off the edge at the bottom of the hill leading down to Monaco Harbour. When passing through the complex middle part.
Hülkenberg was able to get away but made a slow return to the pits, the incident was red-flagged for three minutes and wreckage was found.
FP1 continued with 20 minutes to go, with Alonso taking first place on the first flash after the restart with a 1m13.907s after Perez moved into third and leading Sainz’s early lead times at the intersections.
The Ferrari drivers finally re-emerged a few minutes before the red flag, still running medium tyres, but not worrying about time like in the first stage.
That changed as Sainz returned to pole position with a 1m13.690s to edge Alonso by 0.058s, heading into the final 10 minutes.
Alonso then clocked 1m13.372s, edging the Science Next Flyer to 0.338s, before Perez cut the gap to 0.020s after a flurry of slow sprints at Casino Square.
Alex Albon then crashed hard at St Devot and brought out the red flags again, with the Williams driver losing his rear end midway through the first right-hand corner, and there were no further improvements with front and rear left-side wheels. Obstacles.
With just over three minutes left on the clock, the session did not restart, Albon reported that he was fine and that he had “touched my knees” on impact.
The top three were followed by Perez and Leclerc, who, shortly before the red flag, lost the rear of the Ferrari in the second class after breaking out of the lap set to set a personal best after a chicane lock-up. swimming pool.
Verstappen was sixth after a big slippage at that spot during his late run – as the world champion furiously slowly cruised away and passed the final turns of the track.
Norris was seventh ahead of Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll, who dropped down the order late and was another driver to clip the wall – a pit straight in the middle section of FP1 after the Aston driver caught a burst of throttle oversteer in the final corners.
Albon maintained his position as he rounded out the top 10, dropping to 18th from fellow Williams driver Logan Sergeant and slowly returning to the pits before experiencing problems with the rear of his car before the halfway mark.
In the other Mercedes, Russell finished 15th.