Leclerc tops Monaco free practice

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Charles Leclerc belied his lack of experience racing around his home circuit in Monaco by claiming the top spot in this afternoon’s free practice session, biding his time as he came to terms with the fabled circuit before grabbing P1 late in the session by a tenth from Sergio Canamasas and Oliver Rowland. 

The Monegasque driver has lived just off the circuit for his entire life but has never sat in a racing car on it, until today: he spent the session slowing easing up to speed before putting in a lap of 1:19.722 ten minutes before the close, setting a target that his rivals were unable to overturn. 

The session got underway with overcast but warm conditions, with no one wasting any time to get on circuit: Jordan King was the first driver on track, with all of his rivals following him out within the first minute. Rowland was the first to set a competitive time, at the ten minute mark, with Canamasas, Alexander Albon, Gustav Malja and Norman Nato alternating on top of the timesheets before Leclerc annexed it for himself. 

With so little time before qualifying the entire field was anxious not to put a wheel wrong at the famously tight and twisty circuit: apart from a small collision between Nabil Jeffri and Sergio Sette Camara, and a moment where Artem Markelov lost a piece of his car, there was little to concern the race marshals.

A late VSC test delayed the field briefly before the track went green again, with Rowland moving back up into the top 3 in the last minute of the session, ahead of Nato, Albon, Luca Ghiotto, Nyck De Vries, Markelov, Nicholas Latifi and Johnny Cecotto, most of whom lost quicker laps to traffic. 

This afternoon’s session will be split into 2 parts to avoid that traffic, with the odd numbered cars running first and the even numbered cars in the second session: pole will go to the fastest driver overall, with the fastest in the other session given P2 and the rest of the field lining up directly behind them in session order. With traffic out of the way, the laptimes will tumble as the fight for pole intensifies.  

Free Practice Classification  

 Pso

Driver

Team

Laptime

Laps

1.

Charles Leclerc

PREMA Racing

1:19.722

25

2.

Sergio Canamasas

Trident

1:19.861

23

3.

Oliver Rowland

DAMS

1:19.868

24

4.

Norman Nato

Pertamina Arden

1:20.058

25

5.

Alexander Albon

ART Grand Prix 

1:20.366

26

6.

Luca Ghiotto

RUSSIAN TIME

1:20.515

24

7.

Nyck De Vries

Rapax

1:20.530

26

8.

Artem Markelov

RUSSIAN TIME

1:20.540

23

9.

Nicholas Latifi

DAMS

1:20.866

26

10.

Johnny Cecotto

Rapax

1:20.944

22

11.

Jordan King

MP Motorsport

1:21.013

25

12.

Sean Gelael

Pertamina Arden

1:21.099

23

13.

Robert Visoiu

Campos Racing

1:21.103

26

14.

Nobuharu Matsushita

ART Grand Prix

1:21.123

26

15.

Gustav Malja

Racing Engineering

1:21.305

26

16.

Antonio Fuoco

PREMA Racing

1:21.781

23

17.

Louis Delétraz

Racing Engineering

1:21.987

24

18.

Sergio Sette Camara

MP Motorsport

1:22.064

26

19.

Ralph Boschung

Campos Racing

1:22.111

26

20.

Nabil Jeffri

Trident

1:22.130

24

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