RACE DEBRIEF

    Mercedes picked up where they left off in Spain with a dominant performance in the opening pair of practice sessions for the Monaco Grand Prix, but Max Verstappen is confident Red Bull can close the gap before qualifying after they finished 0.8s adrift in FP2.

    Mercedes haven’t triumphed in the Principality since 2016, the Silver Arrows struggling to even contend for top honours in each of the last two years. But this year’s W10 looks like a different beast, with five successive one-twos to start the season.

    Lewis Hamilton ended up top of the pile, edging out team mate Valtteri Bottas by 0.081s, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel three quarters of a second adrift in third.

    The leading Red Bull was Pierre Gasly, 0.820s off the pace in fourth, with Verstappen just over a tenth further back after losing a good chunk of track time as his team fixed a water leak.

    “We had a water leak after some debris flew into the air box and damaged one of the radiators,” he said. “In general, we look alright and the pace was pretty good. I got enough laps in to feel confident with the car, we tried lots of set-up changes in both sessions and I’m happy with what we have.

    “Mercedes are a bit too quick. But we should definitely fill up the gap between second and third.”

    FP1: Massive save keeps Gasly out of the Monaco barriers
    FP1: Massive save keeps Gasly out of the Monaco barriers

    Gasly impressed, particularly in the second session, to highlight that Red Bull are more than a match for Ferrari on Monaco’s tight and twisty streets.

    “FP1 was a bit difficult, but then after we made some changes for FP2 and I felt a lot better in the car, so this was positive,” he said. “We can see that Ferrari, we’re in the fight with them.

    "Mercedes are quite a long way ahead of us but we’ll have to work and see what we can extract on Saturday. I think we still have more performance to get out of the package we have on Saturday.”

    Red Bull have finished ahead of Ferrari in two of the five races so far in 2019, and trail the Scuderia by 34 points in the constructors' standings.