Friday Practice in Monaco Sees Ferrari Come Within Inches of Red Bull

The Friday practice in Monaco has just concluded, and Ferrari is hot on the tail of Red Bull, as this is their first real chance at victory in the 2023 season. And with high stakes comes chaos and an exciting Friday practice.
Monaco GP Friday Practice 10 photos
Photo: Twitter/Oracle Red Bull Racing
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The first practice session ahead of this year's Monaco Grand Prix was eventful, with multiple drivers misjudging how much they could push. But there's a reason for that, as the circuit was resurfaced ahead of this year's race, so drivers had to relearn the limits of the track, stating there are noticeable differences in the evenness and camber of the track.

Things started off well, with drivers eager to get some laps in and get settled into a rhythm ahead of Saturday's qualifying. But before too long, drivers with some experience started making mistakes. The most spectacular one belongs to Alexander Albon. The Thai lost the back of his Williams on the entry into Sainte Devote and ended up hitting the barrier hard enough to leave some rear suspension elements behind and bring up a red flag.

Both Haas drivers also lost control of their cars, although not as severely as Albon. Even so, Nico Hulkenberg went in a little bit too hard into the Nouvelle Chicane, spinning around and bringing out another short-lived red flag. Kevin Magnussen just missed the braking point at Sainte Devote, being forced to take the escape route.

Lance Stroll and Carlos Sainz were the last two drivers to come in contact with the barriers, although those were only slight grazes. But when drivers were not fighting with the limits of the track, they were holding each other up. Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso was one driver to send an angry message over the radio aimed at Sergio Perez.

The Red Bull driver, who was on a slow lap, ended up hugging the racing line and holding up Alonso, who, in a bout of frustration, stated he would do the same in the future. Keep in mind that these are top-level athletes, and they’re bound to be on the edge as adrenaline coursing through their veins.

And it seems it wasn't Checo’s day at all, as he made a similar mistake during the second practice. In a bid to try and get out of the way of Hulkenberg at the Nouvelle Chicane, he ended up cutting the corner and impeding Sainz's lap instead. Hopefully, the Mexican driver will put in a great show during the Monaco GP and showcase his mastery over street circuits once again.

But Perez was not the only driver to become a slow-moving roadblock for Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard was forced to slow down through the swimming pool section to avoid running into the back of his Monegasque teammate. Charles Leclerc was seemingly homesick, driving slow on the racing line while probably admiring the views and yachts docked in the marina.

Sadly, having avoided the mistakes of two other drivers, Sainz made one of his own. The Ferrari driver clipped the barrier at the swimming pool chicane and said goodbye to his suspension and a chance to top out Friday practice. This incident brought up a red flag, albeit a short one, and an end to the Spaniard's session.

Nothing else happened following the incident, with the top five drivers keeping their positions on the leaderboard. Max Verstappen topped out the session with a time of 1:12.462, closely followed by the two Ferrari drivers, with Charles Leclerc taking second place just 0.065 seconds behind the defending world champion. Fernando Alonso was fourth, as a visit from Sebastian Vettel into the Aston Martin garage seemingly brought him no luck. Lando Norris in his McLaren took a surprising fifth place, while Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez, Valtteri Bottas, Pierre Gasly, and Esteban Ocon rounded up the top 10.
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About the author: Bogdan Bebeselea
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As a kid, Bogdan grew up handing his dad the tools needed to work on his old Citroen and asking one too many questions about everything happening inside the engine bay. Naturally, this upbringing led Bogdan to become an engineer, but thanks to Top Gear, The Fast and the Furious series, and racing video games, a passion for automotive entertainment was ignited.
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