Monaco GP 2024

MAY 24, 2024

Friday Report - Leclerc dominates practice

Charles Leclerc
© Ferrari

Charles Leclerc has firmly established himself as the driver to beat at his home Grand Prix in Monaco, delivering a scintillating performance in the second practice session (FP2). Despite not completing a perfect lap on the faster Soft tyres, Leclerc's pace on both Medium and Soft compounds was unmatched, setting him nearly 0.2 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who had executed his qualifying simulation flawlessly.

Leclerc's dominance was evident from the start, leading the session from beginning to end. Even earlier in the session, his gap to the rest of the field was over half a second, a clear indicator of his pace. His long run performance further solidified his standing, proving that his speed was no fluke. The Monegasque driver, piloting a repaired Ferrari after sustaining floor damage from debris in FP1, pushed to the absolute limit. Despite a small off at the first corner and a few close calls on the Soft tyres, Leclerc's authority on the track remained unchallenged.

Meanwhile, teammate Carlos Sainz struggled to match Leclerc's pace, ending the session in sixth place, almost 0.7 seconds behind. Sainz reported issues with the front end of his SF-23, which lacked the bite he needed. However, these issues were resolved for his long runs, where his pace was notably encouraging and among the fastest in the field.

Max Verstappen, who had a challenging FP1, showed some improvement but still expressed dissatisfaction with his Red Bull RB21. The Dutchman complained that the car was "jumping like a kangaroo," causing discomfort and headaches. The increased grip from the Soft tyres alleviated some of these issues, but Verstappen could only manage the fourth quickest time, 0.535 seconds behind Leclerc. He was also outpaced by both Hamilton and Fernando Alonso and had a close call when he hit the guardrail at Portier. Verstappen’s teammate, Sérgio Pérez, had a tough session as well, struggling with the car’s handling and finishing in P8, 0.286 seconds behind Verstappen.

Lewis Hamilton delivered a near-perfect lap to secure second place, displaying contentment with his car's balance. In contrast, George Russell faced significant challenges, including steering issues and vibrations under braking, which relegated him to tenth place, almost 0.8 seconds behind Hamilton.

Fernando Alonso provided a boost for Aston Martin, setting the third fastest time. While his performance on the Soft tyres was strong, his long run pace suggested the team might have been running lighter fuel loads during qualifying simulations than other teams. Lance Stroll, despite having his best day ever in Monaco, ended the session in P7 after damaging his car’s suspension and steering following contact with the wall.

McLaren adopted a different strategy, with Oscar Piastri notably not using Soft tyres. Piastri’s long run pace was second only to Leclerc’s, indicating a strong position for the team. Lando Norris, despite a lock-up that compromised his Soft tyre runs, finished fifth quickest.

Alex Albon was a surprise entrant into the top ten, securing ninth place ahead of George Russell. Yuki Tsunoda, Daniel Ricciardo, and the Sauber drivers did not reveal their full potential, opting to save Soft tyres for the crucial qualifying sessions.

Leclerc's commanding performance in FP2 has set the stage for what promises to be a thrilling qualifying session. The Monegasque driver's form at his home track has made him the clear favorite, but with seasoned competitors like Hamilton, Verstappen, and Alonso in the mix, the battle for pole position will be fiercely contested. The Monaco Grand Prix weekend is shaping up to be a spectacular showcase of skill and strategy, with Leclerc at the center of the action.