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 MÃ¼ller 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