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Monaco Grand Prix: Sergio Pérez tops opening practice session

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Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Pérez topped the timesheet in the opening practice session for this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

Pérez beat out Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen as Formula 1 returned to the famous street circuit. 

There was misfortune for hometown hero Charles Leclerc who was sidelined by a technical issue for the bulk of the session.

Pérez makes fast start to weekend

The opening minutes of the hour saw Sainz quickly get into the groove as he traded P1 times with championship leader Lewis Hamilton. The Spaniard should have been joined in that exchange by team-mate Leclerc but after 10 minutes the Monegasque driver headed back to the pits with a gerarbox issue. He would take no further part in the session.

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Back on track, Sainz was steadily chipping away at his times and eventually the Ferrari driver worked his way down to a lap of 1:13.388 on this weekend’s C4 medium compound tyre.

Hamilton and Mercedes’ team-mate Bottas edged close to the Spaniard’s time with Hamilton taking P2 behind the Ferrari man. Verstappen then appeared to split the Mercedes as the half hour mark approached.

Fernando Alonso then had a close call as his Alpine clipped the barriers in the final corner, damaging the front wing and bringing out the yellow flags.

Verstappen then jumped to the top of the leaderboard with a lap of 1:13.191, set on the C3 hard tyre.

His tenure was brief, however. Both Mercedes drivers edged past the Dutchman’s benchmark with Hamilton taking P1 thanks to a lap of 1:12.995.

Sainz then retook first place by three-hundredths of a second before AlpahTauri’s Pierre Gasly’s bolted on soft tyres to take P1 with a lap of 1:12.929.

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With 15 minutes to go Verstappen moved to the top on 1:12.648s using medium tyres and team-mate Perez got into the mix with a P2 time of 1:12.817 set on soft tyres.

In the final moments Pérez jumped ahead of his teammate with a session-best time of 1m12.487. Sainz shuffled Verstappen to third with a medium-tyre lap of 1:12.606.

Gasly took fourth for AlphaTauri, just under half a second off Pérez, while Hamilton finished fifth ahead of Bottas. Lando Norris, who yesterday signed a new long-term contract with McLaren, finished seventh ahead of Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel. Yuki Tsunoda finished ninth in the second AlphaTauri ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen.

2021 FIA Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix – Free Practice 1

1 Sergio Pérez Red Bull/Honda 1:12.487 36 165.729

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2 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:12.606 0.119 32 165.457

3 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:12.648 0.161 39 165.361

4 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1:12.929 0.442 37 164.724

5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:12.995 0.508 34 164.575

6 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:13.131 0.644 36 164.269

7 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 1:13.236 0.749 31 164.034

8 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:13.732 1.245 33 162.930

9 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Honda 1:13.746 1.259 39 162.899

10 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:14.081 1.594 31 162.163

11 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:14.090 1.603 33 162.143

12 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:14.106 1.619 27 162.108

13 Fernando Alonso Alpine/Renault 1:14.205 1.718 37 161.892

14 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:14.268 1.781 41 161.754

15 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 1:14.281 1.794 36 161.726

16 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 1:14.320 1.833 37 161.641

17 Nikita Mazepin Haas/Ferrari 1:14.616 2.129 33 161.000

18 Mick Schumacher Haas/Ferrari 1:14.801 2.314 35 160.602

19 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1:14.840 2.353 35 160.518

20 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:19.618 7.131 4 150.885

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