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Monaco GP: Lewis Hamilton tops first practice as Mercedes show encouraging pace at famous street circuit

Lewis Hamilton tops opening Monaco Grand Prix practice session for Mercedes; Oscar Piastri second for McLaren, with George Russell third;watch Practice Two from 4pm, with Qualifying on Saturday at 3pm and the Grand Prix itself on Sunday at 2pm, live on Sky Sports F1

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Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets in first practice ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton topped first practice at the Monaco Grand Prix as Mercedes produced an encouraging showing at the famous street circuit.

​​​​​​Hamilton's time of 1:12.169s put him marginally clear of McLaren's Oscar Piastri, with the seven-time world champion's team-mate George Russell a tenth further back in third.

Lando Norris, who like the top three did his fastest lap on the softest - and theoretically fastest - tyre compound, was fourth for McLaren.

World championship leader Max Verstappen was 11th as he opted to use only the medium tyre, with Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez a place behind.

Ferrari, the team many consider to be favourites for victory in Monaco, also chose to save their soft tyres for later in the weekend but had Charles Leclerc in fifth with an impressive lap on the medium compound, while Carlos Sainz was 10th.

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Charles Leclerc's Ferrari suffered damage after hitting debris from Zhou Guanyu's Sauber following his brush with the wall

Hamilton's position at the top of the timesheet was protected by a brief rain shower, which arrived as the cars returned to the track for the final 10 minutes of the session following a red flag resulting from Sauber's Zhou Guanyu hitting a barrier.

Along with teams taking different approaches to tyre usage, the fact that the street circuit evolves so significantly over a weekend means that the results of the opening practice session cannot be taken as the true pecking order.

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However, Mercedes being able to compete with McLaren, Red Bull's main rival over recent races, may provide hope that the Silver Arrows could be able to challenge for a first podium of the season.

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Verstappen uncomfortable in intriguing session

Drivers want to spend as much time as possible on track during practice in Monaco as they build their confidence ahead of the most crucial qualifying session of the year on Saturday, so the threat of rain on Friday ensured the circuit was full of cars from the very start.

The lack of grip in the early stages was apparent as several drivers locked up and needed to use the run-off area at Turn 1, while Verstappen wasted no time in pushing the limits as he brushed the barrier in the swimming pool section of the circuit.

Verstappen, who is seeking a fourth successive drivers' title, has not had things his own way over the last two races, with Norris winning in Miami before finishing less than a second behind the Red Bull after a late charge in Imola.

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Max Verstappen was inches away from the barriers as he pushed his Red Bull to the maximum in first practice ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix

The Dutchman warned on Thursday that the low-speed and bumpy nature of Monaco was unlikely to suit his RB20, and there were signs of his prediction coming true as he complained of the car being "on a knife edge" over team radio.

Verstappen being a relentless perfectionist means that too much shouldn't be read into his complaints, and it will ultimately only be when Red Bull try out soft tyres that a truer read of his pace becomes available.

The same applies for Ferrari, who have Leclerc trying to win his home race for the first time, with the Monegasque appearing to enjoy a relatively smooth session.

While Red Bull and Ferrari were saving soft tyres, Mercedes and McLaren, perhaps considering the threat of more rain during Friday's second practice session, tried out the fastest compound.

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Sky Sports' Ted Kravitz talks through the upgrades Mercedes have implemented

Hamilton, a three-time winner in his adopted home town, was able to find enough improvement on his second run on the soft tyres to edge Piastri by just 0.029s.

Shortly after those times had been set, Zhou got out of shape on his way out of the first corner and slid into the barrier, damaging the left side of his front wing.

The incident left a significant amount of debris on track, which Leclerc would run over, prompting the race director to throw a red flag to prevent any further damage being caused.

Just as the session resumed with 10 minutes remaining, light rain began to fall, after which no driver was able to challenge the leading times.

Elsewhere, Pierre Gasly endured a frustrating start to his weekend as the Alpine driver was limited to just 10 laps by a power unit issue.

Monaco GP Practice One Timesheet

Driver Team Time
1) Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:12.169
2) Oscar Piastri McLaren +0.029
3) George Russell Mercedes +0.126
4) Lando Norris McLaren +0.227
5) Charles Leclerc Ferrari +0.228
6) Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +0.606
7) Lance Stroll Aston Martin +0.620
8) Yuki Tsunoda RB +0.706
9) Daniel Ricciardo RB +0.732
10) Carlos Sainz Ferrari +0.785
11) Max Verstappen Red Bull +0.815
12) Sergio Perez Red Bull +1.060
13) Valtteri Bottas Sauber +1.079
14) Kevin Magnussen Haas +1.221
15) Alex Albon Williams +1.256
16) Nico Hulkenberg Haas +1.407
17) Logan Sargeant Williams +1.981
18) Esteban Ocon Alpine +1.990
19) Zhou Guanyu Sauber +2.401
20) Pierre Gasly Alpine +3.405

Sky Sports F1's live Monaco GP and Indy 500 schedule

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Look back at some of the most dramatic moments to have taken place at the Monaco Grand Prix

Friday May 24
2pm: F2 Qualifying*
3.45pm: Monaco GP Practice Two (session starts at 4pm)*
5.30pm: The F1 Show
7.30pm: Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge

Saturday May 25
9.40am: F3 Sprint
11.15am: Monaco GP Practice Three (session starts at 11.30am)*
1.10pm: F2 Sprint*
2.15pm: Monaco GP Qualifying build-up*
3pm: Monaco GP Qualifying*
5pm: Ted's Qualifying Notebook

Sunday May 26
6.55am: F3 Feature Race
8.35am: F2 Feature Race
12.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday: Monaco GP build-up*
4pm: Chequered Flag: Monaco GP reaction
5pm: Ted's Notebook
5.30pm: The Indy 500

*also live on Sky Sports Main Event

It's time for the most-famous F1 race of them all - the Monaco Grand Prix. Watch every session from the famous street circuit live on Sky Sports F1, with Sunday's race at 2pm. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership - No contract, cancel anytime

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