Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Monaco, 2023

Sainz fastest for Ferrari as Albon crash ends first practice

2023 Monaco Grand Prix first practice

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Carlos Sainz Jnr put Ferrari quickest in a practice session for the first time in 2023 as he led the opening session for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Sainz’s best time of a 1’13.372 was over three tenths of a second faster than Fernando Alonso, with Lewis Hamilton third-fastest in the revised Mercedes W14.

The principality was picturesque as the pit lane opened for the first time of the weekend, with sunny skies overhead and ambient temperatures at 26 degrees. Sergio Perez was the first driver out on the track and also the first back into the garage. The majority of drivers headed out on hard tyres, however Lando Norris was one of only three alongside the two Ferrari drivers to go out on mediums, setting the early pace with a 1’16.875.

Home hero Charles Leclerc broke under the 1’16s barrier to put his Ferrari on the top of the times, while team mate Sainz took second despite brushing the inside barrier on the exit of the Swimming Pool chicane.

Sainz jumped his team mate to take the top spot with a 1’14.401 to reverse the Ferrari one-two, with Leclerc just over a tenth slower. Alonso moved third on the hard tyres, while his Aston Martin team mate Lance Stroll nudged the outside wall on the exit of Anthony Noghes with his left-rear wheel, doing no significant damage of note.

With just over half of the hour still remaining, most of the drivers returned to the pit lane to adjust their set ups and give feedback on their earlier runs. Williams driver Logan Sargeant slowed on the circuit through the tunnel and reported that he felt as though one of his wheels was not secure. After returning to the garage, the Williams mechanics struggled to remove his right-rear wheel, eventually getting it off from the car after some difficulty.

Lewis Hamilton fitted the medium compound tyres and took to the track in the heavily revised Mercedes. He immediately went quickest of all on his first timed lap with a 1’14.035, while Alonso went second with a lap just half a tenth slower than his former McLaren team mate.

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Nico Hulkenberg got into trouble at the chicane, clipping the barrier on the inside as he turned in, ripping his left-rear tyre from the wheel rim. The Haas driver was able to recover to the pits but the session was red-flagged soon after due to debris from the knock lying off the racing line.

When the session resumed with 20 minutes remaining, Alonso headed back out on the same set of medium tyres he had previously been running on, going quickest of all with the first lap under 1’14 of the session. Alonso’s time at the top did not last long, however, as Sainz used a second set of medium tyres to pip Alonso by half a tenth and reclaim first for Ferrari.

In the final five minutes, red flags flew again after Alexander Albon lost the rear of his Williams on the way into Sainte Devote, crashing into the barriers and wrecking the left-hand side of his car. With only a handful of minutes remaining, the session was be restarted, leaving Sainz on top as the fastest driver in the opening practice session.

Alonso was second, three tenths slower than the Ferrari, with Hamilton third and Perez fourth for Red Bull. Leclerc was fifth in the second Ferrari, ahead of Max Verstappen. The championship leader endured a tough session, clearly unhappy with the balance of his car, the team unable to make some of the changes he wanted until the break before second practice.

Norris, Esteban Ocon, Stroll and Albon in his damaged Williams completed the top ten.

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2023 Monaco Grand Prix first practice result

Position Number Driver Team Model Time Gap Laps
1 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari SF-23 1’13.372 26
2 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin-Mercedes AMR23 1’13.710 0.338 28
3 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W14 1’14.035 0.663 27
4 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda RBPT RB19 1’14.038 0.666 27
5 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF-23 1’14.093 0.721 24
6 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda RBPT RB19 1’14.244 0.872 26
7 4 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes MCL60 1’14.467 1.095 25
8 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault A523 1’14.585 1.213 29
9 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes AMR23 1’14.653 1.281 28
10 23 Alexander Albon Williams-Mercedes FW45 1’14.666 1.294 32
11 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari C43 1’14.718 1.346 29
12 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari VF-23 1’14.725 1.353 29
13 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT AT04 1’14.820 1.448 29
14 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine-Renault A523 1’14.866 1.494 30
15 63 George Russell Mercedes W14 1’15.066 1.694 24
16 21 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT AT04 1’15.083 1.711 33
17 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren-Mercedes MCL60 1’15.192 1.820 32
18 2 Logan Sargeant Williams-Mercedes FW45 1’15.557 2.185 30
19 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo-Ferrari C43 1’15.684 2.312 25
20 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas-Ferrari VF-23 1’15.785 2.413 17

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2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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5 comments on “Sainz fastest for Ferrari as Albon crash ends first practice”

  1. For the first time, Monaco has a helicopter view & some other camera angles are also different from before after FOM’s long-needed world feed coverage takeover.
    I also noticed the screen on the run towards Massenet is missing & trackside advertising is like everywhere else, i.e., specific sections for a particular sponsor.
    As for the session itself, quite silly errors by Hulkenberg & Albon, although red-flagging in the former’s case seemed excessive because nothing seemingly dropped on his way to pit lane.

  2. Moana Pasifika
    26th May 2023, 14:00

    That Mercedes looks lively in Hamilton’s hands!

    1. Hope it brings something, fed up with missing competition against Max.

    2. He seemed to be finely enjoying driving the car.

  3. Whoever were these fans who left the session, never buy a ticket to an F1 race again. Absolutely disgusting and embarrassing. Not true F1 fans

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