Leclerc the early Monaco GP favourite after practice


Charles Leclerc has rated himself as the early favorite for the Monaco Grand Prix weekend with the fastest time in second practice.

Only a late effort from Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton came close to what Leclerc produced in FP2's qualifying simulator rounds, with the Ferrari driver finishing the session quickest by 0.188 seconds with a best time of 1:11.278 seconds already faster than last year's pole position. time.

But even that gap looked deceptive, not only because Hamilton set his time dramatically later in the session but also because Leclerc was quicker in the first sector in a later effort, only to bail out of that lap when he spun wide at Portier. After I came across the Aston Martin from Mirabeau Part 2.

Leclerc set the course early with 11 laps on the medium tyres, setting a best time of 1:11.573 seconds, which at that point put him nearly a second ahead of Hamilton.

Once the field switched to the soft tyres, Fernando Alonso was the only other driver to initially get within half a second of Ferrari – with Max Verstappen and Lando Norris in fourth and fifth, 0.535 seconds and 0.675 seconds off Leclerc's pace respectively for Red Bull and . The McLaren teams held before the weekend were also considered among the favorites alongside Ferrari.

Although long runs were conducted in the final 20 minutes of the session and produced few conclusive results, Leclerc, Verstappen, Norris, McLaren teammate Oscar Piastri and the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz appeared one step ahead of the drivers. break.

Hamilton's single-lap pace also did not carry over to the long-run simulations, but his Mercedes, which does not use the upgraded front wing found on George Russell's sister car this weekend, looked comfortably quicker than Alonso's Aston Martin.

Long-term race pace is also less indicative of the standings in Monaco, although qualifying largely determines the race standings, such is the lack of overtaking opportunities around the tight confines of the street circuit.

Sainz was one lap behind teammate Leclerc, while Verstappen – who complained early in the session that his car was “jumping like a kangaroo” and was one of several drivers who grazed the street circuit barriers – appeared to have a similar advantage over his teammate. Red Bull Sergio Perez.

He was eighth in FP2, behind Sainz and Lance Stroll's second Aston Martin, reporting that his RB20's ride was “horrible” and that he could not see the top of Massenet when he turned into the left-hander at the top of the hill.

The top ten was completed by Alex Albon (Williams) and Russell's Mercedes.

There was no repeat of the eye-catching single-lap pace shown by Yuki Tsunoda in practice at Imola a week ago, but the right-back still looks in good form considering he is the quickest of the five drivers who did not do any laps on the soft tyres.

Tsunoda finished 11th, ahead of Piastri, and looked competitive in the long run as well.





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