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Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc set an impressive pace to top Friday practice at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Leclerc was 0.044 seconds quicker than team-mate Carlos Sainz, with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen third and fourth more than 0.3secs behind.

George Russell was sixth for Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton only 12th.

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo’s difficult season continued with a heavy crash at the Swimming Pool, while team-mate Lando Norris was fifth quickest.

Ricciardo lost control through the 150mph left-right at the entry to the Swimming Pool section, clipped the wall with his left rear tyre and smashed into the barrier at the entry to the second part.

Moments before Sebastian Vettel had just escaped having exactly the same accident, but managed to collect his Aston Martin without it hitting the wall.

It was exactly the blow Ricciardo did not need as he faces the intense focus always suffered by a driver who is in a high-profile position but being outperformed by his team-mate.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc set the pace in both sessions, leading team-mate Carlos Sainz by the end of the day, both drivers more than 0.3 seconds quicker than Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen of title rivals Red Bull.

Russell was 0.7secs off the pace, and Hamilton a further 0.9secs back.

Hamilton complained about “bouncing” – but said it was not the same as the high-frequency aerodynamic problem that had afflicted Mercedes until their upgrade in Spain last weekend.

“It’s the bumpiest the track’s ever been. It’s probably the bumpiest track I’ve ever driven,” the seven-time champion said.

“That makes it difficult but in general our car bounces a lot. It’s different bouncing to what we’ve experienced in the past because it’s in the low speed [corners] also, but it’s not aero. The bumps are making it worse.

“Putting a lap together is, wow, whole new ground. I don’t remember experiencing that before.

“The grip doesn’t feel terrible but it’s just eyeballs coming out of the sockets. As anticipated, I didn’t think we would be as quick as the Ferraris and Red Bulls. Our battle is to try and stay ahead of the McLarens.”

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Russell added: “The car is constantly smashing against the floor. We have experienced a lot of that this year but this is a very different philosophy and reasoning for the bouncing.

“There are sections where both tyres are off the ground – in Turn Five, the front right in the air, and it’s so stiff the front left is popping up as well. You’re almost doing a wheelie. We’re doing everything we can to make it easier for us.

“It was a relatively good day but we are not where we want to be.

“We want to be best of the rest. That is a fair result this weekend behind Ferrari and Red Bull but we want to make sure we don’t have cheeky little Lando popping it in there too.”

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