Lewis Hamilton jokes he has a higher chance of learning Italian than getting on the podium with Mercedes… as soon-to-be Ferrari star enjoys a promising first practice in Monaco

Lewis Hamilton. Remember him? Well, he pushed his name towards the top of the timesheets in practice for the Monaco Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion, who has endured an uncompetitive Mercedes the past three seasons, set the fastest lap in the opening session around the narrow streets, and the second best in the concluding warm-up.

A flicker of hope, then, for Hamilton ending the longest non-winning streak of his career, dating back to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix of 2021? Perhaps, but everyone was experimenting with different runs so we should regard the evidence with a degree of caution.

Still, Hamilton was buoyed enough to say: ‘It’s been a good day, probably the best we have had this year.’

He was also asked by an Italian reporter whether he felt it would be easier to learn Italian before moving to Ferrari or get on the podium in the remaining 17 races, Hamilton laughed.

Lewis Hamilton reveals his chances of learning Italian are bigger than standing of the podium
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Lewis Hamilton reveals his chances of learning Italian are bigger than standing of the podium

His last Formula One win was back in 2021 in Saudi Arabian Grand prix over Max Verstappen
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His last Formula One win was back in 2021 in Saudi Arabian Grand prix over Max Verstappen

‘I think learning Italian’s going to be the hardest, probably,’ he said. ‘But at the moment getting to the podium probably is the less likely one.’

It was Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who finished the action at the head of the field, 0.188sec in front, raising the prospect of Leclerc becoming only the second Monegasque to win his home race, and the first since the world championship was created in 1950. Louis Cheron, whose bust stands by the swimming pool, won here in a Bugatti in 1931.

Qualifying is viewed as crucial on the principality’s thin ribbon of tarmac, though only three pole men have gone on to win the race in the past eight years. Indeed, Leclerc has twice taken pole here without claiming a podium finish.

Max Verstappen, who has won five of seven races this season, was only fourth best, a place behind Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and more than half-a-second behind Leclerc.

The Dutch world champion complained of his Red Bull bouncing like a kangaroo and giving him a headache. He grazed the barriers at Portier.

Lando Norris, who harried Verstappen all the way in Imola a week ago and won in Miami earlier in the month, was fifth fastest for McLaren.

The seven time champion won the opening free practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix
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The seven time champion won the opening free practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix

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