Daniel Ricciardo leads comfortable Red Bull one-two in opening Monaco practice
Monaco Grand Prix - FP1

Daniel Ricciardo leads comfortable Red Bull one-two in opening Monaco practice

Red Bull set the pace during the opening practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix with Daniel Ricciardo beating teammate Max Verstappen to the fastest time.

First practice at Monaco is rarely a reliable indication of who will be quick over the weekend, but it does give an impression of who has the most confidence in their car from the get go. Ricciardo was only marginally quicker than Verstappen in each sector but it all added up to a 0.154s advantage for the Australian by the end of the lap.

It was no surprise to see the Red Bulls at the top of the timings on a track dominated by low-speed corners and with no significant straights. The team estimates its power deficit to Mercedes and Ferrari, which at the Circuit de Catalunya was costing its drivers 0.5s over a qualifying lap, will be reduced to 0.2s this weekend due to the nature of the track layout. That theory appeared to be backed up by morning practice, with Ricciardo's best time 0.354s clear of Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes and 0.915s clear of Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari.

While Hamilton won't be thrilled to be the third quickest driver in any session this weekend, he will take some comfort from holding a 1.022s advantage over teammate Valtteri Bottas, who was the quicker of the two Mercedes drivers last year. He will also be pleased to see the Ferraris 0.5s behind in fourth and fifth, although such margins are reversable over the course of a grand prix weekend in Monaco.

It wasn't all plain sailing for Red Bull, however. Ricciardo clipped the wall midway through the session and Verstappen went straight on at the first corner after missing his braking point. There was no damage to the cars in either incident, but Verstappen will be investigated after the session for reversing back onto the track from the run off area at Sainte Devote.

Carlos Sainz was sixth fastest in the Renault, just ahead of Bottas, and he was joined by a mix of midfield cars in the top ten. Sergio Perez was eighth fastest in the Force India ahead of Romain Grosjean in the Haas and Sergey Sirotkin in the Williams. Sirotkin recovered from an early mistake at the final corner, which saw his right rear tyre pop off its rim as he hit the barrier and debris strewn across the track.

Esteban Ocon was 11th fastest in the second Force India ahead of Brendon Hartley's Toro Rosso and Nico Hulkenberg in the second Renault. Pierre Gasly was 14th ahead of the highest placed McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne and local hero Charles Leclerc in the Sauber.

Fernando Alonso could only manage 17th in the McLaren after losing much of the session to brake issue. Alonso felt his brake pedal go long at Portier and despite an attempt to make a quick fix, the floor of the car had to be removed in the garage to solve the issue.

Lance Stroll finished 18th ahead of Marcus Ericsson in 19th and the Haas of Kevin Magnussen in 20th.

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14/12/2018
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