Max Verstappen’s team radio complaints were persistent throughout FP1, but the Dutchman was more comfortable in his RB19 to end Friday’s running – setting the day’s fastest time.
Ferrari’s duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were close behind, demonstrating enough pace in the SF-23 to fight at the sharp end.
Unfortunately for the Scuderia, a late incident put Carlos Sainz in the wall and ended his FP2 session prematurely, giving the mechanics some work to do this evening.
The Spaniard’s pace was strong otherwise, at a venue where his results are historically very impressive. In combination with Leclerc’s qualifying prowess, the Italian squad should have opportunities on Saturday.
Fernando Alonso has been on the pace throughout the weekend, two-tenths behind Versyappen’s time in second practice despite facing persistent traffic on his low-fuel runs.
Alonso seems far more comfortable in his AMR23 than his teammate Lance Stroll, who was about half a second behind the Double World Champion and outside of the top 10.
Lando Norris was in a strong 5th place for McLaren, whilst Hamilton managed P6 in the heavily updated W14.
Judging Mercedes’ progress at Monaco will be difficult, so the timing sheets from this weekend are unlikely to be representative of the car’s true pace moving forward.
In any case, as the Silver Arrows will work to understand and optimise their new baseline, it will be important to minimise any potential points loss to Ferrari and Aston Martin.
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 26, 2023
Valtteri Bottas finished in an impressive 8th for Alfa Romeo, just ahead of the Alpine duo of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon.
Alfa Romeo and Alpine are introducing quite substantial updates this weekend, with the French squad’s sidepod alterations one of the more pronounced changes on the grid.
AlphaTauri only managed P16 and P17, despite the Faenza squad’s substantial package for Monte Carlo – a legacy of the last weekend’s action being cancelled.
The specificities of this circuit seem to have drawn the top four even closer together, with Lando Norris and his McLaren showing that cameos from midfield teams could be possible.
With showers of rain forecast for this Sunday and the streets of Monte Carlo as unforgiving as ever, there could still be plenty of surprises in the days ahead.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang