Leclerc on top, Hamilton only 12th after big Ricciardo crash

Charles Leclerc tops Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz in Practice Two; Red Bulls of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen unable to match speed; Lewis Hamilton continues to struggle; watch Practice Three live on Sky Sports F1 at 12pm on Saturday, with Qualifying following from 2pm

Last Updated: 27/05/22 5:58pm

Charles Leclerc topped both practice sessions on Friday in Monaco
Charles Leclerc topped both practice sessions on Friday in Monaco

Charles Leclerc sealed a practice double on Friday at the Monaco GP as a Ferrari one-two in the day’s second session appeared to put them a step ahead of Red Bull.

Having appeared tightly matched with Red Bull in the opening session, Ferrari separated themselves from their title rivals in P2, as home hero Leclerc edged team-mate Carlos Sainz by less than half a tenth.

Sergio Perez beat world championship leader Max Verstappen to third, with both Red Bulls three to four tenths back from the Ferraris.

Lewis Hamilton endured a nightmare day as the seven-time world champion failed to build on progress made at last weekend’s Spanish GP as he finished 12th, almost a full second behind his Mercedes team-mate George Russell, who was sixth behind the impressive McLaren of Lando Norris.

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Daniel Ricciardo lost control of his McLaren and crashed into the barriers in practice two at the Monaco Grand Prix
Daniel Ricciardo lost control of his McLaren and crashed into the barriers in practice two at the Monaco Grand Prix

It was not all good news for McLaren though, with a heavy crash for Daniel Ricciardo at the Swimming Pool section ending his session after just 15 minutes and bringing out a red flag that caused a brief delay.

Ricciardo’s incident appeared somewhat inevitable, as almost all the drivers struggled to manage 2022’s new bigger cars on the famous narrow Monte Carlo streets for the first time.

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Several drivers needed to use to the run-off area at the first corner, Sainte Devote. Sebastian Vettel almost crashed at the Swimming Pool moments before Ricciardo’s incident, while both Norris and Russell reported contact with the barrier, which they appeared to get away with.

Monaco GP Practice Two timesheet

Driver Team Time
1) Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:12.656
2) Carlos Sainz Ferrari +0.044
3) Sergio Perez Red Bull +0.379
4) Max Verstappen Red Bull +0.447
5) Lando Norris McLaren +0.638
6) George Russell Mercedes +0.750
7) Pierre Gasly Alpha Tauri +0.980
8) Fernando Alonso Alpine +1.256
9) Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +1.403
10) Yuki Tsunoda Alpha Tauri +1.478
11) Kevin Magnussen Haas +1.583
12) Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +1.611
13) Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +1.812
14) Alexander Albon Williams +1.830
15) Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo +1.869
16) Lance Stroll Aston Martin +1.967
17) Mick Schumacher Haas +2.238
18) Esteban Ocon Alpine +2.560
19) Nicholas Latifi Williams +3.620
20) Daniel Ricciardo McLaren no time

Leclerc on track for crucial pole

With Leclerc having narrowly topped Perez in the earlier session, Ferrari and Red Bull, who between them have shared all six victories and pole positions this season, looked set for another close battle in the opening stages of P2.

Leclerc exchanged fastest times with Perez and Verstappen during the first half of the session, before completing a lap that they were simply unable to challenge.

Sainz, who has repeatedly failed to keep pace with Leclerc during the opening races of the season, on this occasion had a response, setting a time that suggests he will be in the hunt for pole position alongside his team-mate in qualifying on Saturday.

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Martin Brundle assesses the cars as they come through Casino Square in practice two ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix
Martin Brundle assesses the cars as they come through Casino Square in practice two ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix

Before then, Saturday morning’s third and final practice session could prove crucial, with Verstappen likely to seek improvements that will at least enable him to be the fastest driver in his own team, as he seeks to extend a streak of three successive victories.

With overtaking hugely difficult at the street circuit, qualifying at Monaco represents perhaps the most important Saturday of the season, with pole position providing a massive advantage on Sunday.

However, Leclerc, who has failed to finish the race in each of his three F1 appearances at his home circuit, will take nothing for granted as he seeks to regain the championship lead he lost to Verstappen when an engine failure saw him retire from the lead in Barcelona last weekend.

Hamilton struggles as Mercedes seek balance

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Lewis Hamilton locked up twice to join a growing list of drivers who have slid off the track in practice ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton locked up twice to join a growing list of drivers who have slid off the track in practice ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix

After coming away from Barcelona feeling hugely positive, Friday in Monaco appeared to bring Hamilton back down to earth as he struggled from the outset with “crazy bouncing” on his Mercedes.

Not for the first time this season, his younger team-mate Russell appeared to cope better with the challenging car, and was the far more competitive of the Silver Arrows.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 between the two sessions, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted the team faced a dilemma in terms of balancing the performance of the car with driver comfort.

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Hamilton says the Monaco circuit has been the worst in terms of bouncing in the Mercedes.
Hamilton says the Monaco circuit has been the worst in terms of bouncing in the Mercedes.

Mercedes posted on social media that Hamilton’s request for additional padding on his elbows during the first session had been addressed for the second, but that did not appear to aid the seven-time world champion.

“I think we have a ride issue, that is something we have had through the season on the bouncing,” Wolff said. “Sometimes it is a combination between the aero and the stiffness, today it is the stiffness.

“It looks like our car performs because we were quick. Overall I think it is a good car but it is just undrivable like this.”

Mixed emotions at McLaren

Norris was hugely impressive once more, particularly considering he continues to recover from tonsillitis, having battled through the illness during last weekend’s Spanish GP.

The 22-year-old Brit maintained the consistency he has shown throughout his F1 career, finishing fifth in both sessions on Friday.

Lando Norris impressed for McLaren on Friday in Monaco
Lando Norris impressed for McLaren on Friday in Monaco

Norris’ excellent performance only served to highlight his team-mate Ricciardo’s struggles, which reached a new low with a nasty shunt into the barriers.

The incident comes just days after McLaren chief executive Zak Brown told Sky Sports’ Any Driven Monday the Australian is not meeting the team’s expectations, and only increases the pressure.

A former race winner in Monaco during his time with Red Bull, Ricciardo will need all his experience at the circuit to help him overcome the time he lost following his crash.

Source : Sky Sports