Charles Leclerc led a surprise Ferrari double during Thursday’s practice at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Leclerc dominated the second session 0.112 seconds ahead of Carlos Sainz while he missed most of the first session due to a gearbox problem.
Sainz was 0.278 seconds faster than Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who was 0.007 seconds faster than title rival Max Verstappen of Red Bull.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas finished fifth, McLaren’s Lando Norris.
Leclerc’s performance was particularly impressive, as the drivers say track time is crucial at Monaco to allow them to build the confidence to push to the limit between the barriers.
But Ferrari looked competitive all day. Sainz was continuously at the forefront in the first session, finishing second fastest ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.
Sainz was then the second fastest in Hamilton after the first practice of the second session, with the pilots on medium tires, while Leclerc was sixth as he made his way to the track.
Sainz set the tone when the drivers switched to “soft” tires for their qualifying simulation tests, only for Leclerc, slightly out of sync after a longer first pass, only to usurp it a few minutes later.
Hamilton certainly could have gone faster – he lost 0.4 seconds on his fastest lap due to an error at the harbor chicane. But even that would only have put him at the level of Ferraris.
The practice of the first day is an unreliable gauge of the true competitive order as it is not possible to know the specs in which the teams drive their cars.
This leaves open the possibility that Ferrari could have driven with a lower fuel load than the title contenders, and therefore appear stronger than they really are.
But they certainly seem to be in a good position to at least lead the midfield.
The session ended five minutes earlier when Mick Schumacher crashed in Massenet, the fast left turn at the top of the hill just before Place du Casino.
Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda also crashed, damaging the rear right corner of his car as he exited the Pool section and ending his session after just 11 laps.
Behind Norris, Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri was seventh, ahead of Perez, Antonio Giovinazzi of Alfa Romeo and Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin, who complained of problems with his eyes during the session.