Hamilton surprised by "really strong" Ferrari pace in Monaco GP practice

Lewis Hamilton welcomed Ferrari’s surprise surge to the head of the field during Formula 1 practice for the Monaco Grand Prix on Thursday, saying its pace was “really strong”.

Hamilton surprised by "really strong" Ferrari pace in Monaco GP practice

After Carlos Sainz Jr finished second in FP1, Ferrari continued its impressive early form in Monaco in the afternoon session as Charles Leclerc headed up a 1-2 finish for the team.

Leclerc set a fastest lap time of 1m11.684s to pip Sainz to top spot by one-tenth of a second, leaving Mercedes rival and championship leader Hamilton in third, three-tenths of a second off the pace.

The result came as a surprise after Mercedes and Red Bull dominated the early part of the season, appearing to be out of reach of the midfield runners.

Hamilton was upbeat following Thursday’s practice running in Monaco as F1 returned to the principality for the first time in two years, but made note of Ferrari’s impressive performance.

“Generally it just feels really cool to be back on-track,” Hamilton said.

“It’s rapid, this track, it’s absolutely mesmerising, every time you get the opportunity to drive. So yeah, I’ve generally enjoyed today. It’s a challenge, naturally.

“I think the Ferraris are really strong, surprising to see them improve so much, but that’s great. It means more competition.”

Asked if he believed Ferrari’s pace was genuine, Hamilton replied: “I’m seeing what you’re seeing. I’m generally just focused on my job. It looks like it. We’ll see.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

The result marked Ferrari’s first 1-2 in any F1 session since the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, when Sebastian Vettel led Leclerc in second practice at Interlagos.

Ferrari slumped to its worst championship finish in 40 years last season after experiencing a severe drop in form, ending its long-running tussle with Mercedes that could be rekindled this weekend.

Read Also:

Hamilton is chasing a fourth Monaco GP victory this weekend as he looks to extend his 14-point lead over Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the drivers’ championship. Verstappen ended FP2 fourth-fastest, just seven-thousandths of a second behind Hamilton.

Hamilton was pleased with how his Mercedes W12 car was performing through practice on Thursday, but felt there was still work to be done.

“I think the car is good, we’ve made some decent steps with the balance of the car,” Hamilton said.

“I’m generally really happy. I’ve got some changes I’ll probably make this evening as we analyse today.

“It’s going to be close [in qualifying].”

Team-mate Valtteri Bottas ended the day fifth in the sister Mercedes car, but felt he was struggling on turn-in around the slower-speed corners.

“I’m lacking quite a bit of front end in the car on this track,” Bottas said.

“We’ve had similar issues a little bit in some tracks in the mid-corner, but it’s mainly slow-speed corners, and if you don’t have the feel of the front, if it’s going to turn in or not, you can lose easily quite a bit of time.

“Also it feels like our car feels quite stiff, all the bumps and cambers in the corners, it’s quite upsetting, so something to have a look at.”

shares
comments

Related video

F1 Monaco GP: Leclerc heads Sainz for Ferrari 1-2 in FP2

Previous article

F1 Monaco GP: Leclerc heads Sainz for Ferrari 1-2 in FP2

Next article

Verstappen: Red Bull 'very weak' compared to Ferrari in Monaco F1 practice

Verstappen: Red Bull 'very weak' compared to Ferrari in Monaco F1 practice
Load comments
The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey  Plus

The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey 

Before Michael Schumacher – or anyone else – had driven the 191 (or 911 as it was initially called), Eddie Jordan turned to a fellow Irishman to test his new Formula 1 car. JOHN WATSON, a grand prix winner for Penske and McLaren, recalls his role in the birth of a legend…

The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog Plus

The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog

A podium finisher in its first outing but then never again, the BRM P201 was a classic case of an opportunity squandered by disorganisation and complacency, says STUART CODLING

Formula 1
Sep 18, 2021
The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from Plus

The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from

OPINION: The headlines were dominated by the Italian Grand Prix crash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, who had the halo to thank for avoiding potentially serious injury. But two days earlier, Formula 1 had a lucky escape with a Monza pitlane incident that could also have had grave consequences

Formula 1
Sep 17, 2021
How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum Plus

How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum

With two sprint races under its belt, Formula 1 must now consider its options for them going forward. While they've helped deliver exciting racing on Sundays, the sprints themselves have been somewhat lacking - creating yet another conundrum for F1 to solve...

Formula 1
Sep 16, 2021
Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season? Plus

Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season?

OPINION: With Valtteri Bottas already signed up for 2022, all eyes are on the race for the second seat at Alfa Romeo next year. Antonio Giovinazzi is the current incumbent, but faces a tough competition from appealing short and long-term prospects

Formula 1
Sep 15, 2021
The "forced break" that was key to Ricciardo's Monza excellence Plus

The "forced break" that was key to Ricciardo's Monza excellence

OPINION: Daniel Ricciardo has long been considered one of Formula 1’s elite drivers. But his struggles at McLaren since switching from Renault for 2021 have been painful to watch at times. Yet he’s recovered to banish those memories with a famous Monza win – built on a critically important foundation

Formula 1
Sep 14, 2021
How Verstappen is ruining his F1 title battle with Hamilton Plus

How Verstappen is ruining his F1 title battle with Hamilton

OPINION: The Italian GP clash between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen followed a running theme in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight. Their close-quarters battles have often resulted in contact - and although Hamilton has shown a willingness to back off, Verstappen must learn to temper his aggression

Formula 1
Sep 14, 2021
Italian Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Italian Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Two drivers produced maximum-score performances as, for the second year in a row, Monza threw up an unpredictable result that left several others ruing what might have been

Formula 1
Sep 13, 2021