Mercedes started the F1 Monaco GP on a sound note with Lewis Hamilton leading the first practice session as Haas drivers get black-flagged.

It was a close fight to open the F1 Monaco GP weekend on the streets of Monte Carlo as Mercedes’ Hamilton (1m12.106s) headed the standings from Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen (1m12.165s), who pushed Valtteri Bottas (1m12.178s) to third.

Hamilton was only 0.059s ahead of Verstappen with the Dutchman only 0.013s from Bottas. It wasn’t straightforward for all the three drivers with Hamilton getting stuck behind Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat at one point at the narrow circuit.

Both Bottas and Verstappen had offs with the Finn also having close brushes with the barrier in the final corner. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (1m12.467s) ended up fourth from Sebastian Vettel (1m12.823s) with Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly (1m13.189s) in sixth.

Meanwhile, Haas did not have the best of starts after both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were bizarrely black-flagged by the FIA for lack of telemetry and radio, which cost them valuable track time as the IT department rushed to fix the issue.

The problem was fixed though as both took the track to complete their programme with about 15 minutes remaining. They ended up outside the Top 10 with the best of the rest being led by Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg (1m13.227s) in seventh.

Late laps from the Haas drivers helped them to finish inside the Top 10 with Magnussen (1m13.232s) in eighth and Grosjean (1m13.379s) 10th with Alfa Romeo Racing’s Kimi Raikkonen (1m13.363s) ending up ninth in between the Haas duo.

Both Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo (1m13.413s) and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi (1m13.437s) were inside the Top 10 for long until the improvement from the Haas drivers which pushed them to 11th and 12th respectively and Kvyat (1m13.731s) to 13th.

His teammate Alexander Albon (1m13.827s) finished 14th from McLaren’s Lando Norris (1m14.278s), who was another driver to have an off at Turn 1, with Racing Point’s Sergio Perez (1m14.566s) in 16th from the Williams duo.

It was George Russell (1m15.115s) ahead of Robert Kubica (1m15.514s) after the latter had a spin midway in the session. Racing Point’s Lance Stroll (1m16.135s) was only 19th with McLaren’s Carlos Sainz (2m00.670s) 20th after a battery issue with just four laps.