Sergio Perez came out on top during the first practice session of the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix.
The Mexican set a time of 1:12.487 on the soft tyres, and finished ahead of the impressive Carlos Sainz in second. The Spaniard led much of the first half of the practice hour and appeared increasingly confident around the streets of Monte Carlo.
Both Ferraris started the session on the medium compound, whilst most of the field were on hards. This caused a noticeable difference in early lap times; at one stage Sainz was P1 with Lewis Hamilton eigth tenths behind in P2 on a harder compound. Yet later in the session, Sainz managed to match Hamilton when both on the same tyre, seeming to show genuine promise for the Scuderia. Sainz also managed to escape a brief brush with the wall.
Perez's Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen ended the hour in third, using the medium compound. The Dutchman had struggled to get a clear run during the early half of the session, but showed strong pace later on.
Pierre Gasly had a productive day, finishing in fourth, whilst Hamilton was fifth. Hamilton had become the first man in the session to set a time under one minute 13 seconds. His Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas - who had briefly complained about Lando Norris blocking him early in the session - was just behind in sixth.
Lando Norris outperformed McLaren teammate Daniel Ricciardo. The Briton finished the session in seventh, whilst Ricciardo was down in 15th, a disappointing result for the former Monaco winner.
Sebastian Vettel ended up in eighth, with Yuki Tsunoda and Kimi Raikkonen rounding out the top 10.
Whilst F1's three rookie drivers might have seemed like the most likely candidates to hit a wall at Monaco, it was Fernando Alonso who ran into trouble by hitting the barrier at the final corner. The Spaniard managed to limp back to the pitlane with a damaged front win.
Yellow flags were put out whilst the debris was cleared up, but the action quickly got underway again. Alonso's luck didn't improve much when he rejoined the session, with the Alpine driver going off at Turn 1. He eventually finished the session in 13th.
Another one of F1's most experienced drivers, Kimi Raikkonen, also nearly had a moment when he locked up at Turn 1. The Alfa Romeo man managed to recover to get back on track.
Charles Leclerc had a nightmare start to his home race weekend. The Ferrari driver took a moment to wave to fans during his early laps, but soon hit trouble and came into the pits complaining of technical issues. This was discovered to be a gearbox problem and Leclerc was forced to sit out the rest of the session, putting him down in last place in the timings.
Nikita Mazepin kissed the wall and complained about the car over team radio during the session, yet managed to get ahead of teammate Mick Schumacher.
The drivers will now turn their attention to the second free practice session which will occur later on Thursday afternoon.
Practice 1 - Monaco
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