Leclerc leads 1st Monaco practice session ahead of Perez

MONACO (AP) — Charles Leclerc was fastest in Friday’s first practice for the Monaco Grand Prix and the Ferrari driver is hoping a win on his home track can return him to the top of the Formula One standings.

Leclerc lost the F1 points lead last week in Spain. F1 reigning champion Max Verstappen has won three consecutive races to knock Leclerc from the top of the standings.

Leclerc has never finished an F1 race on his home track. He won the pole last year but was unable to even race because of damage to his Ferrari.

He led Sergio Perez of Red Bull in Friday’s first practice by 0.04 seconds. Carlos Sainz Jr. was third fastest in a Ferrari and followed by Verstappen for Red Bull.

Verstappen and Leclerc have combined for all six wins this season. Leclerc has two wins.

Mercedes didn’t have the session it wanted with George Russell eighth fastest and seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton 10th. The new Mercedes has struggled with what’s called “porpoising” – an aerodynamic issue where cars hop and bounce on the track.

A second practice session was scheduled for later Friday.

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