It was a fast start in Monaco, as the streets were filled with the noise of 19 formula one cars, as free practice one got underway. As much of an incredible sight, this was, traffic became an issue very quickly, with the principality having one of the shortest tracks on the calendar.
A multitude of tires was on show, the majority of which were mediums and softs, with homeboy Charles Leclerc using the slightly quicker medium tires to go second fastest behind Ferrari teammate Sainz. However, the great start wasn't to last for Leclerc, as after four laps on the track, he was wheeled back into the garage with gearbox issues, with the Monegasque driver declaring "No fourth gear" over team radio.
Sainz would continue to carry the torch for Ferrari, sitting top of the times in the early stages. The Spaniard would be being chased down by the two Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, both drivers, like Sainz, on the softer compound medium tires.
Close Contact and Suprise Times
The first man to make contact with the tight barriers of the Monte Carlo track was Fernando Alonso in the Alpine. The veteran had misjudged his entry into the final corner of the track, colliding with the barrier on the left-hand side of the car. Fortunately, it was just cosmetic damage, although there was some concern about suspension damage on the front left of the car.
As the session hit the half-hour mark, it was Verstappen at the top of the timings, however, the Dutchman wouldn't be on top for too long, with Bottas claiming the top spot moments later, only to be topped by Hamilton the lap later.
Inside the top ten, there were plenty of drivers who were raising their game, following some less than competitive showings. Pierre Gasly in the Alpha Tauri was tucked between Verstappen and Sainz, in 4th position, following some solid laps. The second Alpha Tauri of Yuki Tsunoda would also venture into the top ten. Gasly would go on to put the car top of the session at the 35-minute mark, 0.036 quicker than Sainz who was also flying.
With 15 minutes remaining in the session, it was Verstappen who was flying on track, setting a purple first and final sector to put the car back on top of the timings. The second Red Bull of Perez would accompany the Dutchman in the top two, just 0.1 behind. Perez would be on the softest compound of tire allowed for the weekend, which could explain the sudden challenge for the top spot in the session.
The change of tire for the Mexican would pay off with little more than five minutes left in the session, as he managed to clinch the top spot from Verstappen. The man who lies second in the Championship would also be leapfrogged by Sainz, leaving him in the third position.