Formula 1 championship leader Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheet in FP1 for the Monaco Grand Prix, while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen split the two Mercedes drivers.

Hamilton, Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas were separated by a slender 0.072s at the top of the timesheet.

For the majority of the session it appeared that the two Mercedes drivers would exclusively battle for top spot.

Bottas brushed the wall on the exit of the final corner en route to a 1m12.818s benchmark to start a flurry of fast laps by the Silver Arrows.

Hamilton lowered the fastest time only to be leapfrogged by Bottas before the Brit delivered a 1m12.106s time to edge his team-mate by 0.072s at the top of the times.

While neither Mercedes improved in the remainder of the session, Verstappen made significant progress up the order later on.

After being pushed out of the run-off area by marshals when he locked up into Mirabeau on his first attack lap of his final run, Verstappen then posted a time just 0.059s adrift of Hamilton’s benchmark pace to seal second in the session.

Team-mate Pierre Gasly climbed the order in the final 10 minutes of FP1, ending up sixth.

Bumping awkwardly over the kerb at the high-speed swimming pool chicane in the early stages of the 90-minute session, Gasly suffered a huge snap of oversteer and narrowly avoided becoming 2019’s first victim of the Monaco barriers.

Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel ended the session in fourth and fifth for Ferrari.

Home favourite Leclerc complained about significant tyre graining during the long runs.

Vettel, who is running a Niki Lauda tribute helmet this weekend, was one of several drivers to explore the run-off area at Ste. Devote during the session.

The Haas pairing of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean eventually climbed into the top 10, despite being black flagged and forced into the pits within the first 15 minutes.

The team had lost radio communication to the cars as well as telemetry, causing the FIA to take action. The issues were resolved with just over 15 minutes remaining on the clock.

Magnussen ended up in eighth behind Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg. Grosjean rounded out the top 10, narrowly adrift of Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Last year’s Monaco race winner Daniel Ricciardo placed his Renault in 11th ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi, who returns to Monaco having not raced at the circuit since his 2016 outing in GP2.

McLaren endured a difficult morning, with Lando Norris in 15th and Carlos Sainz Jr only managing an installation lap after a battery issue halted his progress.

Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was beaten by both Williams drivers.

George Russell was 17th ahead of team-mate Robert Kubica, who brushed the wall with his front-wing after a half-spin on the exit of Casino Square.