Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Monaco, 2021

Perez leads Sainz as Leclerc hits trouble in first practice

2021 Monaco Grand Prix first practice

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Sergio Perez put Red Bull on top in Monaco, setting a best time of 1’12.487 as the chequered flag fell on the first practice session.

Carlos Sainz Jnr put Ferrari second on the time sheets, but team mate Charles Leclerc covered just four laps before being forced into the pits with a gearbox problem.

Sainz’s late effort denied Red Bull a one-two. Max Verstappen took third ahead of Pierre Gasly, with Lewis Hamilton the quickest of the Mercedes drivers in fifth. Mercedes did not do soft tyre performance runs during the session, with their final times set on mediums – as was Verstappen’s.

The hour-long first practice session was busy from the start, with a majority of cars choosing to start on the hard compound of tyres. Early fastest laps were set on medium tyres, with Sainz leading much of the first half hour.

As always traffic was an obstacle for most drivers. Valtteri Bottas got on his radio to complain about both Lando Norris, during the early stages of the session, and Sainz, towards the end of the hour.

Gasly had a strong session, leading the times at one point. He finished top of the midfield and ahead of both Mercedes cars. Behind the W12s came Norris, who complained of understeer on his car.

However McLaren, sporting their new livery for the first time, appeared to be experimenting with parts during the session. At one point Norris was told to stay out despite him complaining that he needed more front wing in high-speed corners, the pit wall telling him that the car was behaving correctly for what they were testing.

While there were no major incidents, a few drivers had brushes with the wall. Fernando Alonso grazed his front wing early on in the session and had to drag it back to the pits for repairs. After that, both Sainz and Lance Stroll had minor encounters between the walls and the rear of their cars, however without too much apparent damage.

Sainz impressively split the Red Bull times with a late run on mediums. Verstappen had reported an issue with downshifting during the last five minutes before the chequered flag so was unable to continue his final run.

At the back of the field, George Russell was a surprisingly low 19th, half a second behind Nicholas Latifi at the chequered flag. Continuing the reversal of the usual pattern among the lower teams, Nikita Mazepin was faster than Mick Schumacher, despite a brush with the wall causing him to suspect a problem at the left-rear corner of his Haas.

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2021 Monaco Grand Prix first practice result

Pos. No. Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 1’12.487 35
2 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari 1’12.606 0.119 31
3 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1’12.648 0.161 38
4 10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1’12.929 0.442 36
5 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’12.995 0.508 33
6 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1’13.131 0.644 35
7 4 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1’13.236 0.749 30
8 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’13.732 1.245 32
9 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 1’13.746 1.259 38
10 7 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’14.081 1.594 30
11 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’14.090 1.603 32
12 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’14.106 1.619 27
13 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1’14.205 1.718 36
14 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1’14.268 1.781 40
15 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1’14.281 1.794 35
16 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1’14.320 1.833 38
17 9 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1’14.616 2.129 32
18 47 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1’14.801 2.314 34
19 63 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1’14.840 2.353 35
20 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1’19.618 7.131 4

First practice visual gaps

Sergio Perez – 1’12.487

+0.119 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’12.606

+0.161 Max Verstappen – 1’12.648

+0.442 Pierre Gasly – 1’12.929

+0.508 Lewis Hamilton – 1’12.995

+0.644 Valtteri Bottas – 1’13.131

+0.749 Lando Norris – 1’13.236

+1.245 Sebastian Vettel – 1’13.732

+1.259 Yuki Tsunoda – 1’13.746

+1.594 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’14.081

+1.603 Lance Stroll – 1’14.090

+1.619 Antonio Giovinazzi – 1’14.106

+1.718 Fernando Alonso – 1’14.205

+1.781 Nicholas Latifi – 1’14.268

+1.794 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’14.281

+1.833 Esteban Ocon – 1’14.320

+2.129 Nikita Mazepin – 1’14.616

+2.314 Mick Schumacher – 1’14.801

+2.353 George Russell – 1’14.840

+7.131 Charles Leclerc – 1’19.618

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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21 comments on “Perez leads Sainz as Leclerc hits trouble in first practice”

  1. An unideal start for Leclerc, but only Thursday.
    Overall, a rather mixed-up order, so even more unusually unrepresentative.

    1. Thejokerit19: “An unideal beginning for Leclerc, but only Thursday.
      Overall, a mixed-up order, so even more unusually unrepresentative.”

      It’s the same?

  2. Alonso looking like the rookie that he is.

    1. Yet faster than Ocon…

  3. Biggest surprise to me is the pace of Ricciardo at the moment. Kudos to Latifi though.

    1. When they briefly went onboard with Ricciardo, he looked like he had no confidence in the car at all.. Quite sad considering he’s usually very strong at this track. Hopefully he can dial himself in as the weekend unfolds.

    2. Ricciardo possibly flattered by Vettel and the RedBull? Hasnt performed since… I sincerely hope not, he’s one of the best to have around.. but its starting to look troublesome for him.

      1. Really? He looked good at Redbull up until his last half season where Max was consistently getting the better of him (he’s destroyed every other team mate afterwards by bigger margins though), and he was great last year in the Renault. It’s too early in his McLaren stint to right him off already as he also took time to get up to speed at Renault. And, it’s FP1 and McLaren were testing different setups so this is hardly conclusive of even this one Monaco race.

      2. No Ricciardo fan by any means, but he has been a consistently good driver up until joining McLaren (including his stint at Renault)

      3. Indeed, this time I disagree, ricciardo was consistently a good driver even after he stopped being paired with vettel, and he had the upper hand on young verstappen, then got outperformed as verstappen got used to the car in 2018 (and had already the upper hand speed wise in 2017), but that’s no shame, still puts him between the strongest current drivers.

  4. Nice to see Checo up there. Monaco is the ultimate confidence track and I hope he can continue this form into qualifying and the race.

    1. Davethechicken
      20th May 2021, 11:58

      Red Bull are always fast around here. I expect a RBR front row lock out.

      1. +1 if it isn’t a RedBull 1-2 I’ll be amazed. Even when Mercedes had a .05-1 second advantage at other circuits RedBull were on pole or much closer to it in Monaco. This season the RedBull has usually had the better single lap pace so I expect they’ll cruise to a 1-2. It’s damage limitation for Hamilton especially if other teams start getting into the mix. I think he’d take a top 5 finish at this point.

      2. But Perez (and Gasly) time set on softs while Sainz, Verstappen, Hamilton & Bottas were on mediums. I can’t see any way Perez is on the front row in qualifying.

    2. This is promising for him, although he was on the softs while Sainz and Verstappen on the mediums.

  5. Poor Charles. The bad luck seems to be following him at his home grand prix year after year. I hope that wasn’t his race gear box, otherwise he might get a grid penalty.
    RB and Ferrari seem to be in very good shape around Monte Carlo. Mercedes, on the other hand, are very difficult to judge, as they did most of their running in the first half of the session.
    Hopefully Ferrari can join the fight for pole on Saturday and mix things up a little bit at the front.

  6. Davethechicken
    20th May 2021, 12:02

    Monaco is a great spectacle but the racing is always dull.
    How many genuine overtakes are we going to see on Sunday?
    I reckon less than 5.

    1. Assuming genuine means after the first few corners and without blue flags…
      I reckon less than 1.

      1. I think between 1-5 there is always a dive somewhere at the start or the end.

  7. I expected more out of the Mclaren livery. The blue shade is too faint. May be because it was very sunny.
    But in FP1 atleast, it looked more orange and white than orange and blue

    1. If you compare it to the Porsche 917 running at Le Mans, the colour looks spot on to my eyes at least.

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