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What the teams said - Friday in Monaco

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Becky Hart
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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 26: Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Alfa Romeo F1 C43 Ferrari

Red Bull

Verstappen was complaining from the very first second of practice, a clutch issue making his exit from the Red Bull garage less smooth than expected. He also felt his car was bottoming out and ran wide a couple of times in a messy session. Perez seemed slightly happier but didn’t push flat out in FP1. Roll on FP2 and the situation had evolved along with the track, as Verstappen found his rhythm and wound up topping the leader board. Perez still didn’t quite show his full hand, but has his work cut out to catch up to his team mate tomorrow.

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Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:14.244, P6; FP2: 1:12.462, P1

“I think FP1 was quite tricky today, I wasn’t happy with the ride of the car but FP2 was much better, the car was a lot more competitive. Compared to Ferrari, I think the handling is still lacking on the curbs and the drops in camber. We need to work on that ahead of tomorrow because you can see that they are still very close, we’ll need more for qualifying tomorrow to stay ahead of them. I felt more confident in FP2 to push a bit more, we had a difficult start but a good end. I’m looking forward to qualifying tomorrow, let’s see what we can do.”

Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:14.038, P4; FP2: 1:12.991, P7

“It wasn’t a great day today in terms of pace in the car, I think FP1 went a little bit better than FP2. After the changes we made in the car we have plenty of things to review before tomorrow’s quail. I will sit down with my Team and go through everything because every millisecond here is going to make a difference. They are just little things, nothing huge is standing out at the moment, so I am not massively worried. It’s going to be a real challenge heading into qualifying, it’ll be an interesting session. We need to make sure we get on top of the tyres and put them in the window at the right time to get the perfect lap around here.”

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 26: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 26, 2023 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Ferrari

Sainz topped FP1 for Ferrari, despite clonking the barriers on the entry to the Swimming Pool early on. His session from there was fairly serene, but the same couldn’t be said for Leclerc who locked up and ran wide as he struggled to put a clean lap together. The situation was reversed in FP2 though, with Sainz starting strongly but winding up in the barriers after hitting the barriers again – this time much more heavily. Leclerc, though, found his stride late on to push Verstappen hard and is right in the mix for tomorrow.

READ MORE: Leclerc hopeful of fighting for hat-trick of Monaco poles as Sainz stresses FP2 crash ‘won’t affect’ his confidence

Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:14.093, P5; FP2: 1:12.527, P2

“It was a bit of a difficult day as the car is not doing exactly what it is supposed to do. So we need to take a good look at the set-up on my car and then work on it to ensure I have the right feeling with it tomorrow. Here it’s all about qualifying, so we didn’t do any race runs, just focusing on preparing for qualifying in the best way possible.”

Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:13.372, P1; FP2: 1:12.569, P3

“In general, I think the day was positive. We were fast in both sessions and the car feels okay on track. There are still a couple of things I want to try tomorrow on the set-up to try and improve, but overall we are quite competitive. Obviously, it was not ideal to finish the session in that way, after a small miscalculation trying to find the limit. Sorry to the team and the mechanics for the extra work.”

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 26: Carlos Sainz of Spain driving (55) the Ferrari SF-23 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 26, 2023 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Aston Martin

Stroll clipped the wall in FP1 but managed to continue with no damage. He wound up in the top 10, but some way off the pace of his team mate who was right up there harrying the Ferrari of Sainz. The second session followed the same pattern, Stroll unable to match his team mate who was right at the sharp end of the timing sheets yet again.

READ MORE: Alonso expects Aston Martin to be ‘one of the candidates’ for Monaco pole after ‘fun’ Friday

Fernando Alonso – FP1: 1:13.710, P2; FP2: 1:12.682, P4

“We completed enough laps today and we were able to get a good understanding of our car here around Monaco. It was important to find a rhythm early this weekend and avoid any issues. In both sessions the car felt good and it’s easy to drive which helps at this circuit. There are going to be lots of ups and downs for everybody this year, so we have to be ready to deliver every weekend. Some race weekends we will be quicker than our rivals and others it might be different, but I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s qualifying session.”

Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:14.653, P9; FP2: 1:13.185, P11

“Every lap mattered in practice today: it’s such a short lap around Monaco, it’s always tricky to pull everything together, but we got some good running in today and we learned a lot. The AMR23 is working well around here – it’s definitely behaving itself – so tonight we’ll focus on tweaking a few, final things. The pack has been tight all year – so getting everything right for qualifying will be essential. We’ll keep working on the car tonight and see what we can do tomorrow.”

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 26: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Aston Martin AMR23 Mercedes on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 26, 2023 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Mercedes

Those upgrades have finally arrived, a very new-look W14 taking to the track in Monaco. Hamilton seemed comfortable from the off and topped the timing sheets for much of the first session, but Russell wasn’t so confident as he struggled with both tyre warm up and brake temperatures. They dropped back slightly once the soft tyres were bolted on, and with so many strong cars this year, will have to find something special for tomorrow if they want a slot right at the front.

READ MORE: Hamilton hails ‘amazing day’ in Monaco as Mercedes get first glimpse of upgraded W14 out on track

Lewis Hamilton – FP1: 1:14.035, P3; FP2: 1:12.960, P6

“I’ve had an amazing day and I really enjoyed driving out there. I want to send a big thank you to everyone at the factories. To build, design and develop a car is not an easy thing. Everyone’s put in so many hours of hard work to get us here. We got a lot of data today; it’s not a place to ultimately test an upgrade but the car was generally feeling good. It’s a shame we weren’t as close as I’d hoped at the end of the last session, but I felt some improvements. We’ve got to keep chipping away at it and see if we can squeeze some more juice out of the car.”

George Russell - FP1: 1:15.066, P15; FP2: 1:13.191, P12

“Monaco is such a unique track so it’s not an ideal place to be evaluating updates, but we knew that coming into the weekend. We’re just trying to focus on improving around this circuit and qualifying is obviously the most important part of the weekend. We generally do better on Sundays and struggle more on Saturday, so we need to try and flip that here. There were positive signs to take from today’s sessions but it’s never easy around this place. We made a lot of changes throughout the day, and the car felt improved in FP2. We’ll work hard tonight to see what we can do tomorrow.”

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

“We’ve had a busy day but ran decent programmes with both cars and managed to cram in plenty of set-up compares along the way. It’s difficult to evaluate the update at this track from a lap-time point of view, but from what we can see it’s all working as expected. George seemed to have a better afternoon session which is good news as he was lacking confidence in FP1. Lewis has been pretty happy with the car all day but there are a few things we may have done for the second session that cost a bit of pace. We’ll look at that overnight. We’ve also got a good programme running in the simulator to try and find a bit more performance; hopefully we can find a step as even a tenth-of-a-second can be a big difference in qualifying here.”

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 26: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W14 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 26, 2023 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

McLaren

Norris had his second session curtailed with an issue, but until then had looked very strong at a track he tends to go well at. He judged his line through the Swimming Pool chicane to the millimetre time and time again and could well spring a surprise tomorrow. Piastri struggled by comparison, but this is a tough track for the rookies and every lap he manages will aid his confidence.

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Lando Norris - FP1: 1:14.467, P7; FP2: 1:12.906, P5

“A reasonable day – it’s just lovely to be back. Awesome to be back in the car here in Monaco. Feels insane, as always. Good fun out there and got comfortable very quickly, which is always important here. We made a few changes from FP1 to FP2, which were in the right direction, and we definitely got a bit more out of the car, so we’ll continue to try to explore that direction, see if we can improve a little bit more into tomorrow. A decent Friday, and I’m probably feeling a little bit more comfortable than I have been the last few weeks.”

Oscar Piastri - FP1: 1:15.192, P17; FP2: 1:13.673, P18

“First day in Monaco in an F1 car. It was a bit of a tricky day, it’s such a challenging circuit and I’ve got a bit of work to do on my side, but that’s what happens when you’re getting up to speed. I think I’ve got the best out of each corner at least once, I’ve just got to put them all together on a lap now. We’ll keep working overnight and see what we can do. The car looks to be in a reasonable place, but the field is so tight again, so small improvements can have a big impact. We’ll keep pushing and look to unlock more pace tomorrow.”

Andrea Stella, Team Principal

“We’ve had a decent first day of running in Monaco, despite a couple of issues on Lando’s side which ate into his track time in FP2 and high fuel laps. That aside, we worked through our programme as planned. Lando found a good rhythm relatively soon at low fuel. Oscar, making his first visit to Monaco in an F1 car, was rightly learning more and more run after run. From here, we’ll do all the usual Monaco things: keep optimising all the details with the drivers and on the car, do our best to execute our plan smoothly and put good laps together for qualifying and the race.”

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 26: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL60 Mercedes on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 26, 2023 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Alpine

Alpine had a quiet day on Friday. Both drivers kept their heads down and managed a good haul of laps, with Ocon the pick of the duo in FP1 and Gasly just shading his team mate in FP2. But with so many teams looking strong here, Alpine might need their drivers at their very best if they are to book slots in the top 10 come qualifying.

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Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:14.585, P8; FP2: 1:13.162, P10

“Driving here in Monaco is a very special experience; there’s really no place like it. On our side, I think it’s been a smooth day, where we’ve run through our programme, tried a few different things and, importantly, did not take any unnecessary risks. I think we have a few more things to go through and test to be really up to speed and ready for qualifying tomorrow, so I’m sure Free Practice 3, for everybody, will be important. The car feels good, and we’re in a strong place looking ahead to the rest of the weekend.”

Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:14.866, P14; FP2: 1:13.089, P9

“It’s always great to be here in Monaco and driving around this iconic Formula 1 circuit. It’s been a reasonably solid day for us with some upgrades on the car and it was good to build up an understanding on those and, in general, ease ourselves into the weekend. The car felt much improved between Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2, so I’m happy with our work today and we’re in decent shape looking ahead to the rest of the weekend. Tomorrow is qualifying day, an exciting experience at this place, and we’ll be giving it our best to be up there on the grid.”

Matt Harman, Technical Director

“It’s been good to have a smooth Practice day today where we’ve been able to assess some new upgrades on the car including the new sidepod, which is a very good step from the previous version. It’s been equally important not to face any issues on Friday – just like in Miami – for us to learn and validate our new parts as well as gearing up for the rest of the weekend. Both drivers have been sharp today, bringing their speed and confidence up around this tough track in a sensible manner. We’ll keep looking to make improvements on set-up to be well placed ahead of tomorrow’s important Qualifying session.”

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 26: Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Alpine F1 A523 Renault on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 26, 2023 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Alfa Romeo

Bottas has a new-look helmet for Monaco, but more impressive than his ‘Bot.Man’ design was his form in FP2. Once the soft tyres went on, the Finn came alive and wound up solidly in the top 10. He might be hard pushed to stay there tomorrow, but he can’t be ruled out. Zhou was slightly further back on Friday, and will need to analyse the data to work out why.

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Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:14.718, P11; FP2: 1:13.050, P8

“It was a good, productive day and it was what we needed to finally test our new upgrades. I could feel a difference already, a positive one, even though we will have to do some work to refine the package and extract the most from it. It’s a promising sign, though, especially since the field is so tight and a small improvement can make a big difference. Overall, it was an interesting day: the track kept improving with every lap and, as always in Monaco, so did my confidence. Traffic is always an issue here but today we were able to navigate through it well. Now we need to focus on qualifying: the feeling is positive, if we can improve a little bit more overnight, we can be there or thereabout.”

Zhou Guanyu - FP1: 1:15.684, P19; FP2: 1:13.354, P13

“In general, a promising day for us. FP1 wasn’t the smoothest session and it was difficult to find a rhythm, but the later session was a step up for us. The first impressions from the upgrade package are positive, although it’s still early days, and I feel there is still a bit of margin, both for myself and the car, to further improve to be ready for tomorrow. We seem to be able to carry on from where we left off in Miami, and I’m looking forward to qualifying. We also looked solid in the long runs, so if we manage to translate today’s work into a good qualifying position, we can fight for the points. Tomorrow will be tricky – it always is here – but we can be in the mix for a good result.”

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 26: Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Alfa Romeo F1 C43 Ferrari on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 26, 2023 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Haas

Hulkenberg managed to knock his rear wing off its rim in FP1, which led to the German spinning at the Nouvelle Chicane. He managed to slowly crawl back to the pits and didn’t seem to have done too much damage to the floor or the rear diffuser in the process. He was straight out in FP2 to make up for lost time, and may fancy his chances given so far this season, his prowess has been mostly on Saturdays. Magnussen had a quieter time of it bar one excursion down at Sainte Devote.

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Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 1:15.785, P20; FP2: 1:13.520, P15

“It was good fun but challenging at the same time. It’s mega fast around here now and it’s the first time I drive this new generation of car around Monaco, and I have to say it’s probably the fastest thing I’ve driven around here and it’s only Friday, so there’s more to come. In terms of running, it wasn’t ideal in FP1 with the little kiss coming out of the tunnel. FP2 was okay, we collected a lot of data, and we have some new parts on the car that we need to analyse and see what else we can find.”

Kevin Magnussen – FP1: 1:14.725, P12; FP2: 1:13.457, P14

“It was a decent day and it looked good in FP1, we lost a little bit in FP2 I think with the changes we made to the car. It’s very bumpy out there for us in the low-speed, not like the typical high-speed porpoising stuff but just dealing with the bumps at the apex of the corners. It’s Monaco and everything is tight together and you only need to find a little bit then you move up a lot, so it’s still all to play for tomorrow.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

“It wasn’t a perfect day, not bad, but we learned a lot. We need to get a bit further up to qualify well because that defines the race weekend here, so we still have some work in front of us, but everyone knows what we need to do and we’ll try to achieve it for FP3. All in all, not a bad day except for the little incident from Nico but it wasn’t bad. We need to work a little bit on the set-up of the car so that the drivers feel a bit more comfortable in it.”

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 26: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany driving the (27) Haas F1 VF-23 Ferrari with a broken rear wheel after a crash during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 26, 2023 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Williams

Williams had an eventful FP1 session. First, Sargeant had to limp back to the pits with an issue, which the team managed to sort and get him back out on track. But then Albon crashed, losing the rear into the first corner and connecting with the walls to bring out the red flags. The team managed to repair his car and he did come out in FP2, but he lost a lot of running and will be up against it in FP3 to try and regain his confidence.

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Logan Sargeant - FP1: 1:15.557, P18; FP2: 1:14.238, P20

“The first day here in Monaco is done and it’s always a privilege to drive this track. We’re not exactly where we want to be and we’re missing some pace but, from a driving standpoint, I think I was driving well and that’s a positive to take. We’ll look to see how we can improve the car for tomorrow and we go again.”

Alex Albon - FP1: 1:14.666, P10; FP2: 1:14.217, P19

“It was a great job from the team to get the car ready for FP2, despite being a bit compromised in that session. We need to take a look tonight to see if we can improve the car, however it is tricky out there, but I think it’s tricky for everyone. It feels like it always does around Monaco, like you’re on a knife edge but that’s because you’re always on the limit. Ultimately, I think we need to find a few more tenths to fight for Q2 but we’ll try do that.”

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

“Today was a bit mixed with Alex showing some decent pace in FP1 but then damaging the car at the end of the session. Until that point, he was making steady progress and we were investigating the new parts on the car. Although his team did an excellent job to get the car ready for FP2, there wasn’t enough of the session left for Alex to really understand the evening conditions and the soft qualifying tyre. If we can recover to the pace we had in FP1 then we can still mount a useful challenge in qualifying. However, missing much of a session in Monaco is very costly and we will need to work hard overnight and through FP3 to make up for the lost time.

“Logan drove well throughout the day; although he has driven here before, tackling the streets of Monte Carlo in an F1 car is a different challenge. He kept the sessions clean and progressed his learning and understanding of the set-up throughout the day. His pace was a little bit off where he wanted it to be, but with a little bit more work tonight, he can have a strong day tomorrow and build on his solid start to the weekend.”

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 26: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Williams FW45 Mercedes on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 26, 2023 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

AlphaTauri

Tsunoda was unsurprisingly vocal about some of the traffic issues that everyone faced in practice, and later managed to clip the barriers in FP2. That led to a rear puncture and cost him the rest of the session. De Vries had a quieter day but did manage two mistake-free sessions, which was a good start for the rookie here, as he seeks to out-qualify his team mate for the second straight race.

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Nyck de Vries - FP1: 1:15.083, P16; FP2: 1:13.663, P17

“I’m enjoying this track. I raced here in Formula 2 and Formula E, but coming here as the main series is definitely different. I think it was a solid Friday, in which we made progress throughout both of the sessions. We are slowly chipping away and getting more comfortable with the car on track, but there is still some work to do for the balance. The Monaco track isn’t an aerodynamic-sensitive track, so we will need to find more performance elsewhere from the new upgrades. We’ll do our homework tonight and we will need to keep it clean tomorrow when there will be a lot of cars on track during Q1, so getting a lap together will be challenging.”

Yuki Tsunoda - FP1: 1:14.820, P13; FP2: 1:13.641, P16

“I enjoyed driving around Monaco, but there is still some pace to be found for qualifying, and we have to focus on this as it’s going to be really important. We have quite a few big upgrades on the car this weekend, but it’s hard to say how well they work because Monaco isn’t an aero-efficient track. As usual, we will put it together tonight so we can make it through to Q2 tomorrow, as Q3 seems a bit difficult, but let’s see.”

Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer

“Having missed the Emilia Romagna GP last week, it’s been three weeks since the drivers had been on track, so coming here to a tricky track, it was a case of building up the pace lap by lap. We carried over the new aero package that was planned to be introduced in the last event, but it’s always very difficult to draw conclusions at Monaco. So far, there seem to be no surprises, so both cars will retain this for the rest of the weekend.

“FP1 was mainly focused on the drivers and covering the most laps possible to get them used to the car at this track. The balance was quite close already from the beginning, which means it was just a case of tracking the changing track conditions throughout the day. We made a further step in improving the balance for FP2, but it’s clear there is still more that we can do for tomorrow, so we will continue to work on the set-up overnight to tackle the main weaknesses. Yuki’s session ended prematurely after just brushing the apex barrier at Turn 10 and damaging the rims, so he missed out on his long run, but at least this won’t have a big impact on his qualifying preparation for tomorrow.”

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 26: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan driving the (22) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT04 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 26, 2023 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Pirelli

Simone Berra, Chief Engineer

“It is always a great spectacle to see Formula 1 cars hurtling around a track as fascinating and unique as Monaco and today was yet another confirmation of that. In terms of tyre behavior, we had no particular surprises. All three compounds were used on a track that sped up significantly from the beginning to the end of today’s running. The differences in performance between hard, medium and soft are quite in line with the simulations and, in their evaluation, one must take into account the relatively short length of this circuit and its evolution.

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“Usually the gaps here are small, but this year they seem to be even smaller, because in the hybrid era we have never seen a gap of only seven-tenths between the first and 10th-fastest drivers in FP2. It will therefore be even more important to be on track at the right moment to be able to push hard and, with this in mind, it is worth pointing out that today we saw that even the softest compound allows for more than one fast lap if properly managed in terms of grip recovery. It is a tyre characteristic that we introduced last year and which has already been highlighted recently at other circuits, such as Baku.”

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