Charles Leclerc tops first practice for Ferrari at home grand prix in Monaco

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Home favourite Charles Leclerc finished fastest in opening practice for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Ferrari’s Leclerc, born and raised on the famous streets of Monte Carlo, edged out Red Bull driver Sergio Perez with Carlos Sainz third in the other scarlet car.

World champion Max Verstappen took fourth and Lewis Hamilton could manage only 10th in his Mercedes.

Leclerc, who lost the championship lead to Verstappen after he retired from last Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix with engine gremlins, has never won his home race.

But the Monegasque was fastest out of the traps at a sun-cooked Monte Carlo, beating Perez by 0.039 seconds.

Hamilton delivered his best race of the campaign in Barcelona, driving from last but one – following an opening-lap collision with Kevin Magnussen – to fifth.

However, the seven-time world champion struggled in the first running of the weekend here.

Lewis Hamilton finished one second off the pace in first practice
Lewis Hamilton finished one second off the pace in first practice (Daniel Cole/AP)

Hamilton complained on multiple occasions about the porpoising in his Mercedes.

First, the 37-year-old said: “It is so bouncy out here, mate. I am f****** losing my mind.” He later added: “I need elbow pads in this cockpit because it is bouncing so much.”

Hamilton’s Mercedes team felt they had resolved the majority of the porpoising issues which have so far plagued their season.

So Hamilton’s frustrations will be a cause for concern as Mercedes bid to get their campaign back on track.

Leclerc is bidding to win his home race for the first time
Leclerc is bidding to win his home race for the first time (Daniel Cole/AP)

George Russell fared better than Hamilton in the other Silver Arrows and the younger Briton finished two places ahead of his team-mate, albeit six tenths back. Hamilton was almost a second off the pace.

Elsewhere, Lando Norris, who is battling tonsillitis, finished an encouraging fifth for McLaren, half-a-second down, with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly sixth and Norris’ team-mate Daniel Ricciardo seventh.

The concluding action of the day gets under way at 5pm local time (4pm UK).

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