Motorsport Motor racing Hamilton leads Piastri in first Monaco practice
Motorsport Motor racing Hamilton leads Piastri in first Monaco practice

Motorsport: Motor racing-Hamilton leads Piastri in first Monaco practice

MONACO (Reuters) – Seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton led the way in Monaco Grand Prix first free practice on Friday with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri denying Mercedes a surprise one-two at the top of the timesheets.

Hamilton, Formula One’s most successful driver and a three times Monaco winner, sounded gloomy earlier about his prospects but still put down a best time of one minute 12.169 seconds on soft tyres.

Australian Piastri, also on softs, was 0.029 slower than Hamilton with Mercedes’ George Russell third fastest and McLaren’s Lando Norris fourth.

Red Bull’s championship leader Max Verstappen had several brushes with the barriers and was only 11th, 0.815 off Hamilton’s pace but without doing a quick lap on the soft compound.

“The car is so loose on the bumps. Any interaction with engine braking or brake bias, it’s just making it all worse,” he said over the radio.

Team mate Sergio Perez suffered a puncture and was 12th fastest.

Ferrari’s home hero Charles Leclerc, who has yet to stand on the podium in Monaco but is second overall in the standings, lapped fifth fastest and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso was sixth and ahead of Canadian team mate Lance Stroll.

RB’s Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo lapped eighth and ninth fastest respectively with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz completing the top 10.

Red flags were waved with 15 minutes remaining when Sauber’s Guanyu Zhou clipped the tyre wall and scattered debris on the track, with Leclerc running over some of it and damaging his Ferrari.

Verstappen leads Leclerc by 48 points after winning five of seven races this year.

The Dutch driver won in Monaco last year and has qualified on pole for a record-equalling eight races in a row, seven this season.

Saturday’s qualifying session promises to be far more exciting than the race, which is often processional and dictated by grid position.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)

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