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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 24: Carlos Sainz of Spain driving (55) the Ferrari SF-24 on track during

Ferrari

Leclerc had a hairy moment in FP1, first on the scene to Zhou’s touch with the barriers and running straight over the resultant debris. That caused a pit stop to check for floor damage, with some good old tape used to fix the issues and get the Monegasque back out onto the track. Into the second session, and Leclerc was top on both the mediums and the softs. He was comfortably ahead of the rest too, which bodes very well for tomorrow. Sainz was a shade further back, and needs to study the data overnight to see where he is lacking by comparison.

Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:12.397, P5; FP2: 1:11.278, P1

"All in all, it seems that we have a good car for this track and I felt quite confident with it today. We have to keep that rhythm in place for FP3, because I may have taken a bit more risk today than others did, which paid off in terms of lap times, but the key here is to put it all together in qualifying when everyone starts really pushing the limits.

"We did a good job overall and have to keep focusing on ourselves. It was a great feeling to be back in the car on the streets of my home town and to feel all the support, we will give it everything to have a good one tomorrow."

Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:12.954, P10; FP2: 1:11.962, P6

"It was a challenging Friday for me. I struggled to find consistency in the car and played around quite a bit with the set-up.

"For the last stint of the day, I was happier and the long run was positive. We will focus on carrying that feeling into tomorrow's practice as we prepare for qualifying."

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-24 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 24, 2024 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Mercedes

Mercedes opted to run the soft tyre in FP1, putting it to good use to climb up the leaderboard. Hamilton won the intra-team battle but not by much, pipping Russell by just over a tenth. The good news for the team was that Hamilton was also quick in FP2, the only driver to get within two-tenths of Leclerc. But Russell was hit with reliability woes, a steering problem costing him some lap time. He’ll hope the Silver Arrows can fix that before qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton – FP1: 1:12.169, P1; FP2: 1:11.466, P2

"It’s been a good day, probably the best we’ve had so far this year, and the car is feeling very positive. This track is just amazing in an F1 car, and I’ve been enjoying my driving today – I was pleasantly surprised by the grip level and the way the car was responding, which made it a much more enjoyable ride than the last two years. In the second session, it felt a bit less comfortable, and we’ve got lots of work to do overnight to improve the long runs and the front graining. It was a feeling positive on the lower fuel, and we don’t want to lose that, but our focus now is to improve on the long run."

George Russell - FP1: 1:12.295, P3; FP2: 1:12.260, P10

"That was one of our best Fridays of the year, and the car is feeling the best I’ve ever had in Monaco. My session was limited by the steering vibration – as soon as I touched the brakes, the steering system was shaking, and on a track like this where you need confidence to attack, that really set me back. Every team is developing so quickly, and you can see how much faster the lap times are this year than last. The car is feeling good, and Lewis’s times showed the performance that’s in there, but Charles (Leclerc) is very quick, and we know as well how quickly things can change. I hope we will be fighting for the top five tomorrow."

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

"Overall, we've had a pretty good day with both cars. FP1 was productive. We pulled forward the FP2 soft into that session as we expected rain although that never materialised and meant we were on used tyres for the low fuel soft in the afternoon. George was struggling with a vibration on braking – we need to get on top of that for tomorrow as it appeared to get worse during the course of the day and was very intrusive this afternoon. However, the underlying pace of the car seems good. Our long run needs some work as we've got to be a bit kinder on the front tyres on Sunday but we've got some options for that. We've also got to track the circuit as the grip comes up but it's encouraging that we seem to have a decent platform to work from."

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W15 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 24, 2024 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

McLaren

Piastri looked fast for McLaren on the softs, finishing a whisker behind Hamilton. Norris likewise was in the mix despite picking up traffic on his flying lap. But their times in FP2 have to be taken with a pinch of salt. Piastri didn’t run the softs at all, and clipped the barriers while Norris only ran the same set of softs from FP1. When they bolt on fresh soft tyres tomorrow, expect them to jump up the order.

Lando Norris – FP1: 1:12.396, P4; FP2: 1:11.953, P5

"First of all, it's just great to be back, driving around this circuit. It’s so incredible. It’s tough as always, but I think it’s been a reasonable first day. It’s always hard to get in a good rhythm around here but I think we’re in a good place. It’s very close between several teams, with maybe one or two a little further up the road compared to us. We’ve got a bit of work to do, but I think it’s kind-of as expected and we’ll keep pushing hard.”

Oscar Piastri - FP1: 1:12.198, P2; FP2: 1:12.366, P12

“That’s Friday done in Monaco. I’d say it’s been a pretty good day overall. The pace has looked good but it’s very, very tight between a lot of teams today, so it’s difficult to say where we could net out. We’ve got some things to look at and tweak overnight, but I feel like we’re in a good place. It’s going to be an exciting Saturday.”

Andrea Stella, Team Principal

“It was a productive day of practice here in Monaco. We worked through our planned programme without any issue. The threatened rain didn’t materialise, so we had plenty of time to evaluate tyres, understand setup and give the drivers as much track time as possible. The battle at the front seems very interesting: there are quite a few quick teams. We’ll work hard this evening to maximise our potential, have a good qualifying session tomorrow and score points in a race that may still be affected by the weather.”

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 24, 2024 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Peter Fox - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Aston Martin

The Aston Martin duo also ran the softs in FP1, but mostly kept their heads down to work through their respective programmes and keep out of trouble. Trouble found them in FP2 though, with Stroll clipping the barriers. He came into the pits for his car to be checked, and didn’t make it back out, the damage more significant than it first appeared. That left Alonso to fly the flag for the team which he did with aplomb, winding up third to raise eyebrows that Aston Martin could be in the mix for qualifying.

Fernando Alonso – FP1: 1:12.775, P6; FP2: 1:11.753, P3

"It was good to get some track time today ahead of Qualifying tomorrow. We need to analyse all of our data overnight and let's see what we can do in Qualifying."

Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:112.789, P7; FP2: 1:12.062, P7

"We got some good laps in during today's Practice sessions so we'll spend this evening looking through the data and maximising our learnings.

"I'm looking forward to tomorrow's Qualifying. Driving around Monaco is always a lot of fun; it's all about pushing to the limits. It's always an exciting session, so we'll see what we can do."

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Aston Martin AMR24 Mercedes on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 24, 2024 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Red Bull

Red Bull opted not to run the soft compound tyre in FP1, sticking with the mediums for Verstappen while Perez ran a set of the mediums and a set of the hards. The only newsworthy event for the Bulls was a puncture for the Mexican, but he was able to limp back to the pits unaided. But roll on FP2, and instead of kicking on both Bulls struggled. They were complaining about bouncing mainly, with the RB20 looking to be running a pretty low ride height. Work to do overnight.

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Max Verstappen – FP1: 1:12.984, P11; FP2: 1:11.813, P4

“It was pretty difficult but we knew coming into the race this weekend that this might be the case. There was a lot of bounce and temperature changes on track, which also made it tricky. Every time that we went over a bump, the car lost a lot of lap time and on this track one small jump could result in you ending up against the wall. We are looking into a solution ahead of the weekend to sort this out. In general, the issue is a bit more difficult to solve in set up and it won’t be a quick fix but we are going to work on it overnight; we don’t expect miracles but are still looking ahead to tomorrow. Ferrari are also looking quick but I am not thinking about that ahead of tomorrow. Overnight we are going to review the issues that we have and we will hopefully improve the drive of the car ahead of qualifying.”

Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:13.229, P12; FP2: 1:12.099, P8

“It is going to be tough this weekend, we are finding it hard to get away from our limitations at the moment. We will see what we are able to come up with tonight, we ran a slightly different set-up on each car and I don’t know what the issues were for Max until we debrief. There are plenty of things to look at, the long run pace seems to be in a better place, but we will have to wait and see how we perform tomorrow. Ferrari look really strong and whenever they need the lap, it has seemed really quick and easy. It is a benefit to them and they aren’t struggling with their tyres either. We have a few items we need to be able to improve overnight and then hopefully it can put us back in the fight and we can be closer to the top.”

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing prepares to drive in the garage during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 24, 2024 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

RB

Tsunoda was unimpressed with some traffic issues he encountered in first practice, and also voiced some frustration at exactly when he was being spoken to on the radio. But apart from those teething issues, bot RB drivers had a solid session – winding up in the top 10. They didn’t run the softs in FP2, opting for a different programme to most and thus tumbled down the order.

Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:12.901, P9; FP2: 1:12.577, P16

“I feel good being back here in Monaco, it’s just nice and enjoyable driving an F1 car around this track again. I’m happy with the work we did today, I think that we have some pace in hand, and probably the timesheets didn’t show the full picture, so hopefully putting on some softs tomorrow we can be fighting inside the top 10. I feel like I got myself into a better rhythm towards the end of FP2 and was happy with the last lap I did on the mediums. Considering everything, I think we’re in a good place and now it’s a matter of putting the setup together. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow; I’m excited because the qualifying day in Monaco is probably one of the coolest days of the whole Formula 1 calendar.”

Yuki Tsunoda - FP1: 1:12.875, P8; FP2: 1:12.349, P11

“It was another positive first day for us. Straight from FP1, I felt positive. There are still some little things we can improve on to extract the performance but that’s what practice is for. For example, I think we can improve in general in the braking phase because we had a couple slides there and obviously with this C5 tyre, it’s very sensitive. Other than that, warmup is good and everything is positive, so it’s just finetuning the little things that always count, especially here in Monaco. The general pace is there and I’m looking forward to improving another step tomorrow, maximising it for qualifying.”

Alan Permane, Racing Director

"We’re happy with our day’s work today. We ran a slightly altered programme because of the threat of rain in the afternoon, which obviously didn’t materialise. It meant we took a soft tyre in the morning and that didn’t leave us with a soft this afternoon, so we’re a little further down the timesheet than we would’ve been had we run the softs. A few problems with ride of both cars in the morning session were hurting the drivers, especially in braking in Turn 1 where it’s a little bumpy and in the chicane after the tunnel, but some good changes across both cars in between sessions saw an improvement. Both drivers report they were happier with the car in the afternoon and we look forward to FP3 and qualifying tomorrow.”

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan driving the (22) Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 24, 2024 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Peter Fox - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Williams

Sargeant fell foul of traffic around the windy Monaco streets not once but twice, the second time eliciting an apology from Leclerc who admitted he couldn’t see the darker Williams car in the tunnel. Then the American was one of a number of drivers to clip the barriers in FP2. As for Albon, he put in a very good lap to grab ninth at a track that is expected to suit their car – but it is a bittersweet result, given they are still a second back from pole.

Alex Albon - FP1: 1:13.425, P15; FP2: 1:12.257, P9

"It’s been okay today; we have the same issue as last year with our car struggling to get the front tyres in a good window and when they’re not in a good window, they open up and start graining. The concept of our car tends to lend itself to this kind of circuit with it being an area we’ve been focusing on. The weight isn’t such a big factor around here, so it feels like we’re on a more level playing field. Q2 is a good goal but hopefully, we can be in the higher end of this."

Logan Sargeant - FP1: 1:14.150, P17; FP2: 1:12.790, P18

"There were some good and bad moments today, however FP2 wasn’t very smooth. We have some work to do tonight on the low and high fuel, and whilst it wasn’t the best today, it’s still a pleasure to drive the streets of Monaco. We need to fix the balance and get the tyres in a better window, understanding the variables more to bring it all together. There’s lots to gain out there, so we’ll do some work tonight and see what we can do tomorrow."

Sven Smeets, Sporting Director

"The first day in Monaco is always a bit tricky as the track is a real challenge for every driver from start to finish. Drivers need some laps to get in the rhythm and to start building up confidence. We had a reasonably good day today with both drivers being able to do their full run plans in both FP1 and FP2. Alex showed some promising pace on the Soft tyre but the long run in FP2 proved we still have some overnight work to do to improve the car for the race on Sunday. The key will be to find the right balance between Qualifying and Race-pace. As the chance for showers tomorrow is decreasing it seems we are heading to a dry Qualifying which will be well appreciated by the fans."

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Williams FW46 Mercedes on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 24, 2024 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Peter Fox - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Haas

Haas had a quiet opening session, opting not to run the softs and thus finding themselves relatively down the order. In the early evening session, they both moved forward but not by as much as they might have hoped. Will they go well here? Hulkenberg’s qualifying has been top drawer this year, but they might need something special from the German tomorrow if they want to get involved at a track where the top five teams seem to be competitive.

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Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 1:13.576, P16; FP2: 1:12.569, P15

“It’s quite something – for the first few laps you’re just stunned at how impressive it is – how fast, how dynamic, and how challenging. That’s Friday in the bag, I think it was an okay day, there were no problems on our side. Performance-wise, it didn’t look too great where we slotted in but it’s all fine margins, so we need to squeeze a little bit more out overnight for tomorrow. The picture we have today, we’re a bit away from the top 10 at the moment, but it didn’t feel too bad from a balance point of view. It’s just lacking grip in some areas, so we’ll see what we can do.”

Kevin Magnussen – FP1: 1:13.390, P14; FP2: 1:12.473, P13

“It’s incredibly tight as always, I say that all the time now, and this race is all about qualifying so it’s really important we get things right tomorrow. There’s a good rear in the car, the big rear wing is important here, but everyone came to Monaco with an extra high downforce wing. You’re just finding lap time all the time; the track is so bumpy and it’s just that much more intimidating driving around here. It requires bravery to really pull everything out of it and I don’t think anyone has done that yet. It’s very easy to go over the limit, and it’s very costly. I’d love a bit more pace of course, but we’ll see what we can do.”

Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal

“I think it’s been pretty similar to what we expected so far. I think overall in terms of the package we have for Monaco, it’s doing what it’s supposed to do but like I said earlier in the week, we just need to find a bit more from our car balance to be able to extract performance. We understand our long-run pace so I’m not too worried, but of course qualifying is everything here, so we need to find a slightly better balance.”

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany driving the (27) Haas F1 VF-24 Ferrari on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 24, 2024 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Alpine

Gasly had a difficult start to his weekend, a wastegate issue curtailing his running in FP1. He missed nearly the whole session, and thus had to make up for lost time in FP2. He managed 34 laps in the second session though, which was a better showing. Meanwhile, Ocon clipped the barriers in FP2, which was far from ideal. All in all there looks to be work to do if the team want to climb up through the midfield pack.

Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:14.159, P18; FP2: 1:12.554, P14

“It’s great to be back in Monaco and driving at this legendary circuit. It’s been an interesting day. In Free Practice 1, the grip was quite tough and it was all about building the speed lap by lap and trying to get as close to the walls as possible in order to improve lap-time. I would say the second session was better for us as we made some good improvements and steps forward. We managed to learn a lot – we still have more to work on – but I would say we’re in a good place at this stage. We will continue the hard work, put it into practice ahead of Qualifying, and aim to be in a good position tomorrow afternoon.”

Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:15.574, P20; FP2: 1:12.750, P17

“I had a tricky Free Practice 1 due to an issue on the car. We were able to fix it during the session but it still meant that we did not get much running in. Free Practice 2 was mainly about getting a good feel for the car at this circuit and trying to push the limits as much as possible. At times, I probably pushed too much, but I did feel quite comfortable in the car so that’s positive. My run on Softs was a little messy. I did not quite put together all three sectors, so there are definitely things to learn and more to extract. We will continue to work hard in fine tuning everything ahead of the all-important Qualifying tomorrow afternoon.”

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24: Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Alpine F1 A524 Renault on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 24, 2024 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Peter Fox - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Kick Sauber

Zhou had the biggest moment in FP1, some oversteer sending him bouncing along the barriers. He wiped off his front wing endplate for good measure, but managed to make his own way back to the pits. In the second session, neither driver bolted on the softs – instead concentrating on medium tyre running. As such, they were way down the order with their true pace an unknown.

Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:13.248, P13; FP2: 1:13.057, P19

“Today has been a productive day which allowed us to gather important data ahead of tomorrow’s Qualifying, which will be decisive. I always enjoy racing on these streets: it’s definitely good to be home. Our car felt good, and I overall felt quite confident in both sessions, which were dedicated to testing different setups. I reckon today’s positions do not quite reflect our true performance, and we should be more competitive tomorrow. The pack is tight, and given how today felt, I’m positive we can have a proper chance at it for quali. There will be a lot to play for, and we must be at our very best in order to catch any opportunity that may arise.”

Zhou Guanyu - FP1: 1:14.570, P19; FP2: 1:13.773, P20

“Today’s sessions don’t really reveal our true standing: with an eye to the weather forecast, we opted to use our softs in FP1 rather than FP2. We’re getting things ready, and the car felt better in the afternoon compared to the morning session. I reckon we need to find a few more tenths to be safe, but we’ll find out tomorrow. I had a snap in turn one in FP1 but managed to keep damage to the minimum – that’s Monaco. For the rest of the weekend, it’ll all come down to getting the car in the right window and the tyres to work. I am confident that, if I also find a bit more myself, we can be up there in the mix.”

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24: Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Kick Sauber C44 Ferrari on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 24, 2024 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Pirelli

Simone Berra, Chief Engineer

“The day on track that’s just finished here in Monaco was a very busy one, with two hours of free practice for the Formula 1 teams, while the Formula 2 and Formula 3 categories, for which we are also the sole tyre supplier, put on an exciting show in qualifying. As for Formula 1, free practice did not throw up any great surprises. Here, it’s important for the drivers to lap continuously to get into a rhythm and find those last centimetres of track that represent the ideal line through the corners.

“From a purely technical point of view, we saw the track get quicker and quicker with each passing lap and that could also be an important factor in qualifying, because conditions could change significantly from the beginning to the end of each phase of the session. The fact that today’s best time is already almost a tenth quicker than last year’s pole is a sign of the progress made with this generation of car, given that the tyres have remained pretty much the same as last year’s.”

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