Sam Bird winds his way around the Monte Carlo streets (Photo Credit: Frederic le Floch/DPPI)

Sam Bird winds his way around the Monte Carlo streets (Photo Credit: Frederic le Floch/DPPI)

Formula Renault 3.5 kicked off a fascinating weekend of motorsport in Thursday's practice session, with ISR's Sam Bird topping the timesheets.

Bird, who took pole in Monaco in GP2 last season, jostled at the head of the pack with Marco Sorensen (Lotus) and Alexander Rossi (Arden Caterham) but led the way with a time of 1m 25.046 secs.

Bird said: “I'm happy with my performance this morning, but there's still a huge amount of room to improve. 

“There isn't any grip on the track yet as we were the first to drive on it, and I didn't use DRS on my fastest lap. So it's going to get quicker.

“This car is great to drive on the streets of Monaco. Unfortunately I'm in the first qualifying group, which is not an advantage, but I'll get on with it and try to get pole position, as I did in the GP2 Series last year.”

Sorensen deposed Rossi for second place after the American driver crashed towards the end of the session at Mirabeau.

Rossi said: “It's the first time that we've really been on the pace and that's very encouraging for my team, which is new to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series this season.

“The only problem was the mistake I made on my final lap, at Mirabeau. But it's better to hit the barrier today than on Sunday!”

Many drivers fell foul of the tight confines of the Monte Carlo circuit, with Rossi, Arthur Pic (DAMS), Richie Stanaway (Lotus) and Lucas Foresti (DAMS) all hitting the barriers during the session.

Championship leader Robin Frijns, who finished seventh, said: “This circuit is incredible. The first laps take you by surprise, particularly due to the humps all over the place. But I quickly found my rhythm. 

“I went quite close to the barriers on several occasions, which had me sweating, but I think that's how you find your limit here.”


Pos Driver Team Time Gap
 1.  Sam Bird            ISR         1m25.046s
 2.  Marco Sorensen      Lotus       1m25.243s  + 0.197s
 3.  Alexander Rossi     Arden       1m25.299s  + 0.253s
 4.  Kevin Korjus        Tech 1      1m25.601s  + 0.555s
 5.  Kevin Magnussen     Carlin      1m25.626s  + 0.580s
 6.  Nico Müller         Draco       1m26.099s  + 1.053s
 7.  Robin Frijns        Fortec      1m26.528s  + 1.482s
 8.  Andre Negrao        Draco       1m26.833s  + 1.787s
 9.  Daniil Move         P1          1m26.962s  + 1.916s
10.  Nick Yelloly        Comtec      1m27.003s  + 1.957s
11.  Zoel Amberg         Pons        1m27.086s  + 2.040s
12.  Mikhail Aleshin     RFR         1m27.231s  + 2.185s
13.  Lucas Foresti       DAMS        1m27.736s  + 2.690s
14.  Anton Nebylitskiy   RFR         1m27.844s  + 2.798s
15.  Walter Grubmuller   P1          1m28.177s  + 3.131s
16.  Vittorio Ghirelli   Comtec      1m28.447s  + 3.401s
17.  Will Stevens        Carlin      1m28.484s  + 3.438s
18.  Carlos Huertas      Fortec      1m28.494s  + 3.448s
19.  Nikolay Martsenko   BVM Target  1m28.813s  + 3.767s
20.  Jake Rosenzweig     ISR         1m28.856s  + 3.810s
21.  Giovanni Venturini  BVM Target  1m29.031s  + 3.985s
22.  Yann Cunha          Pons        1m29.272s  + 4.226s
23.  Jules Bianchi       Tech 1      1m29.407s  + 4.361s
24.  Lewis Williamson    Arden       1m30.416s  + 5.370s
25.  Arthur Pic          DAMS        1m40.412s  + 15.366s
26.  Richie Stanaway     Lotus       1m48.995s  + 23.949s