The Friday in F1 Monaco GP showed strong pace from Ferrari and Mercedes, as Red Bull faltered again on Day 1 of a grand prix weekend.

The crucial Friday in F1 Monaco GP did not go well for Red Bull at all. Both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez complained about bumps and the car not feeling 100%. They were off the Top 3 and in the mix of cars involving Mercedes, McLaren and Aston Martin.

It was Ferrari setting some strong pace, especially Charles Leclerc who reckoned his aggressive approach worked on Friday and now it is continue the momentum. His teammate Carlos Sainz felt better on race pace but not on qualifying pace.

For Verstappen and Perez, they feel it is not down to set-up but how the car is designed which can’t be solved overnight per se. Considering that qualifying is important aspect, they are resigned to the idea that they may not win the F1 grand prix on Sunday.

Their fallback gave Mercedes a chance to pop up with Lewis Hamilton finishing P1 and P2 respectively. He was elated with the performance they put up, as George Russell noted about some of the issues he faced which the team more or less fixed up.

The 50-50 list consisted of McLaren and Aston Martin, where both looked in the fight but not as certain as the Ferrari and or Mercedes. They are certain of a Top 10, but can’t be sure about the position as of now considering the closeness.

Verstappen: “I don’t think I even can describe what is actually going on. It’s just very difficult. It’s not something that I didn’t expect, but it’s definitely at the higher end of the worst possible outcome of the weekend so far. There are a lot of bumps, kerbs and camber changes as well in the track, and for us that is basically impossible to take. Every time that we go over it, we lose a lot of lap time, just because the car doesn’t ride it well. That is definitely hampering us at the moment to go faster. There is also I think no real, clear direction or solution for the weekend to try and solve something like that. Imola was completely different, also different issues that you can solve with set-up. These kind of things you cannot solve with set-up. It’s how the car is made and designed, and these kind of things you cannot change overnight, so we are stuck with that. We’ll try to make it a little bit better but I don’t expect any miracles. Ferrari are miles ahead. I’m not even thinking about that for tomorrow, I just want to try and solve the issues that we have, try and make it a little bit more driveable, and then we’ll see where we end up.”

Leclerc: “I think on the medium we were really strong. On the soft we struggled to put everything together, there was a lot of traffic all the way. All in all, we have a good car at the moment. I feel confident with the car. However, it’s super important we keep this rhythm into FP3 because it’s the way Monaco is. I might have taken a bit more risk than the others today which paid off, however it’s all about tomorrow in quali when everybody starts to go on the limit. Until now I think we’ve done a really, really good job, but we need to keep working, keep focusing on ourselves. But it’s a positive first day. I think there’s more pace in me just putting everything together. If you look at my three sectors, there was quite a bit of lap time in them when you put all of it together, so that will be the main focus for tomorrow. But let’s say performance and feeling is there. I think we kind of arrived here knowing that anything was possible.

“As I said in 2021, we didn’t have a particularly good car, but coming into Monaco the characteristics of our car were fitting well this very particular track and we were fast. This weekend we seem fast. Mercedes have been struggling since the beginning of the season, they are very fast this weekend so we expect them to be just the same tomorrow. Lewis has been on it all day, so we have to maximise everything tomorrow to put it on pole. I’ve had two poles in the past, but then the Sunday result wasn’t the one I wanted. So if we manage to do [that], so which is the best starting place for Sunday, we’ll have to focus well on Sunday in order to put everything together to finally get that win.”

Hamilton: “It’s been a good day, definitely been the best day we’ve had on track. I think the car was feeling really positive, [I was] really enjoying driving it – this track is amazing. The grip was feeling quite good. I think we still have some challenges with the balance, but it was looking strong. I do that in Monaco, so it wasn’t a surprise. But what was a surprise was the grip level and how the car was reacting here. It was definitely a more enjoyable ride than we’ve had here previously, the last two years particularly. I think the second session, I don’t know whether we improved or not – definitely in the long runs, we still have a lot of work to do overnight to try and make sure that we can make it to the end of the race. Absolutely. [We] can’t lose that, and we just need to improve in the long-run pace and the graining.”

Norris: “I think we are not bad at all. It’s always tricky around here so first of all it’s nice to be back driving around this track, because it’s as chaotic as it always is and as difficult as it always is. I think it’s a reasonable first day. We’re definitely lacking a little bit comparing to Charles and the Ferrari, maybe the Mercedes – the Mercedes looks very quick as well. I think everyone is tighter, just because it is a small track and an abnormal track. But we are up there. We have a bit [of performance] to find. I think it’s going to be a difficult day tomorrow, but we are in the fight, which is the main thing. It’s a few different things but the main thing you want around here is low-speed grip, so change the balance to get a nice balance to get that. Also just the ride. The better the car can go over the bumps and the softer the feel, the better it can also feel. But it’s a trade-off. If you try and do that too much you lose overall performance. We tried a few things today, so hopefully we can understand it tonight and improve it for tomorrow.”

Alonso: “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.”

With the Top 5 teams performing decent on Friday, it leaves the other half with little chance of making it inside the Top 10. Even though Visa Cash App RB and Williams made it in, they are not fully certain if they can convert it fully, but are quietly optimistic.

More so the Visa Cash App RB pair who did not show their full potential on one lap. Williams felt so-so as Alexander Albon admitted of struggles that he faced in 2023 repeating itself. As for the rest of the three F1 teams, they didn’t seem too high.

Both the Haas drivers were not sure of their pace and hope they can find something, with Alpine and Stake F1 Team in the same list. The French outside faced issues on their power unit side, which was resolved during the session itself.

Tsunoda: “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.”

Albon: “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.”

Hulkenberg: “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.”

Gasly: “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.”

Bottas: “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.”

Here’s how FP1 of F1 Monaco GP panned out

Here’s how FP2 of F1 Monaco GP panned out

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