Perez leads 1st practice session for Monaco GP, Hamilton 5th


MONACO — Red Bull driver Sergio Perez clocked the fastest time Thursday during the first practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Perez had a best lap of 1 minute, 12.49 seconds on the sinewy 3.4-kilometer (2.1-mile) circuit that snakes around the picturesque Principality.

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz Jr. and Max Verstappen, Perez’s teammate, were next.

AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly had the fourth fastest time. He was followed by F1 champion Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

There is a second practice session later Thursday.

Hamilton is 14 points ahead of Verstappen in the standings after they finished 1-2 in the first four races. Hamilton will be aiming for his 101st career pole position on Saturday and his 99th win on Sunday.

He is also looking to clinch a record eighth F1 title this season to move one ahead of Michael Schumacher.

The warm and sunny session was welcomed by a smattering of fans returning after last year’s race was canceled because of the coronavirus.

But it did not go well for local favorite Charles Leclerc, who grew up in an apartment overlooking the famed street circuit. The Monaco driver’s stint ended after only four laps because of a gearbox problem with his Ferrari.

Meanwhile, two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso slightly damaged the front wing of his Alpine car after clipping a barrier in the last corner.

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