The Monegasque Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) was the fastest this Friday, ahead of his Spanish teammate Carlos Sainz and the Mexican Sergio Pérez (Red Bull), in the free practice day for the Monaco Grand Prix.
Leclerc, who wants to regain the leadership at home that he had to give up last Sunday in Montmeló (Barcelona) to the Dutchman Max Verstappen (Red Bull), the last world champion, topped the two time tables of the day. In which ‘Checo’ -second in the morning- and Sainz exchanged places in the second test, in which the Ferraris were ordered ahead of the two drivers of the Austrian team; for which ‘Mad Max’ achieved the fourth time of the day.
The 24-year-old Monegasque, who, when he was leading, had to leave – due to an engine problem – in Montmeló, is now second in the World Championship, six points from the 110 with which Verstappen leads, of the same age and who comes from leading, in the Spanish Grand Prix, the ‘double’ of Red Bull that ‘Checo’ completed; that on the Catalan track he signed his eighteenth podium in F1, the third of the season, and confirmed his third place in the contest, 25 points behind his teammate.
Leclerc, who has never finished ‘his’ Grand Prix and who last year raised his bad luck at home to the nth degree -by not being able to take the start after having an accident on the installation lap after having signed the ‘pole’-, he covered the 3,337 meters of the Monte Carlo street circuit in one minute, 12 seconds and 656 thousandths, only 44 less than Sainz, 27 years old; who, unlike his partner, has always done well on the most iconic circuit in the championship; in which last season he finished second.
Much further away, the two Red Bull drivers concluded the day, who, after achieving the second ‘double’ of the year at the Spanish Grand Prix, also took the lead in the Constructors’ World Championship, leading with 195 points, 26 more than the ‘Scuderia’. The brave driver from Guadalajara was 379 thousandths behind Leclerc, 44 hundredths faster than Verstappen, who achieved his fourth victory of the year at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya: in the fourth race he finished so far this year.
Alonso, who at 40 years old signed the comeback of the day last Sunday -finishing ninth after starting last, when changing the engine of his Alpine in Montmeló-, marked, after being thirteenth in the first free practice, the eighth time of the day : on the circuit where he achieved two of his 32 victories: in 2006, with Renault, the year he defended the title; and a year later, with McLaren.
In his best attempt, the brilliant Asturian driver was one second and 256 thousandths behind Leclerc; that in the first session he had improved by only 39 thousandths to ‘Checo’ -born 32 years ago in Guadalajara (Jalisco)- and by seven hundredths to Carlos, 27 and fifth in the World Cup, with 65 points: nine less than the English George Russell, who completed the podium in Montmeló and who was sixth this Friday, behind the Englishman Lando Norris (McLaren).
During the hot day of rehearsals, most of them dedicated themselves to recovering sensations, aboard the new cars, larger and heavier, in the narrow streets of Monte Carlo. Where both sessions were interrupted for a few minutes, with a red flag.
The first, in which the first two in the World Cup went long in Santa Devota, to remove the Haas of the German Mick Schumacher, the son of the ‘Kaiser’, from the entrance to the ‘pit lane’. Whose seven world titles equaled two years ago the Englishman Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), dethroned last season by Verstappen and who, after finishing fifth in Spain, this Friday, complaining again about the numerous boats of the single-seater, did not pass the twelfth time. A one second and six tenths behind Leclerc.
The second, to remove the Australian Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren and Renault from the track, who lost control of it in the pool area and damaged the left front part of the car; in an accident that, fortunately, had no major physical consequences for the friendly driver from Perth.
Free practice will be completed this Saturday, hours before the very decisive qualifying, which will order the starting line-up for Sunday’s race; the shortest of the year: scheduled for 78 laps, to complete a route of 260.2 kilometers. In a circuit that barely gives room for the slightest error. EFE