Monaco GP: Ferrari Outpace Mercedes & Red Bull. Ferrari springs an opening day surprise of the Monaco GP by setting the pace edging title challengers Mercedes and Red Bull in second practice.

Already fast on harder tyres in the morning session, Ferrari hit the front with both their cars in the afternoon on the lower-fuel simulations on soft tyres around the famously tight and twisty streets of the Principality.

Monaco’s own Charles Leclerc, who lost P1 due to a gearbox fault on his car, topped team-mate Carlos Sainz by 0.112s with a best lap of 1:11.684.

Monaco GP: Ferrari Outpace Mercedes & Red Bull

Ferrari are yet to register a podium finish in 2021, and last won a race two seasons ago, but have been an improved force towards the head of the midfield so far this season after a dismal 2020.

Lewis Hamilton, the championship leader, worked his way up to third for Mercedes just ahead of title rival Max Verstappen in the Red Bull but both 2021’s leading teams were nearly four tenths off Ferrari’s pace.

“I’m surprised how competitive Ferrari is,” said Verstappen, who finished nearly four tenths off the pace. “I think it just shows that we are pretty weak.

They are doing very well and we are very weak, so then the offset is very big.”

Hamilton said: “The Ferraris are really strong. Surprising to see them improve so much, but it’s great – it means more competition.”

Valtteri Bottas was fifth in the other Mercedes ahead of Lando Norris in the special Gulf-liveried McLaren.

Sergio Perez had set the morning pace but slipped to eighth in the afternoon for Red Bull, finishing between AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Alfa Romeo’s impressive Antonio Giovinazzi.

Mick Schumacher, one of four Monaco F1 rookies in the field, brought the afternoon session to a slightly early conclusion when he tagged the barriers at Massenet and brought out the red flags.

Another Monaco novice, Yuki Tsunoda, had earlier lost more significant track time after a clash with the omnipresent guardrails had damaged his AlphaTauri.

Although the former world champions have been a much-improved force so far in 2021, with Leclerc taking three fourth-place results on the grid already, they still qualified one second adrift of pole last time out in Spain

Monaco GP: Ferrari Outpace Mercedes & Red Bull