Mercedes started their Monaco weekend with a competitive showing in the two Thursday practice sessions. Nico Rosberg ended the day second and teammate Michael Schumacher was just over a tenth slower in fifth.
Rosberg did lose some track time in the morning session and only finished it in eleventh. However, after his afternoon performance the German is positive about his prospects for qualifying: “Monaco is a very special and challenging circuit and we had a positive start to our weekend here today.
“We made good progress this afternoon after losing some time in the morning with a pushrod problem that we had to fix. The lap times looked quite promising in the second session and I felt very comfortable in the car. We were able to improve the set-up continuously and get the tyres working better as the session went on.
“Everything looks promising after the first day and I'm looking forward to getting on with qualifying on Saturday.”
Michael Schumacher, who showed some of his pre-retirement form in Spain last weekend, was faster than his teammate in the morning session. The seven-time world champion thinks that qualifying will be a very close affair on Saturday. “Today's practice was a lot of fun. You clearly have to say that Monaco is a very special place to drive and I really enjoyed it. I got back into the rhythm of the track, especially on the long runs, and I think we can be quite confident for tomorrow as the car is definitely quite reasonable to handle.
“The other teams who have a certain top speed advantage on other tracks at the moment do not have this advantage here, so the whole field comes a bit closer together which will make it a very interesting qualifying in my view. I am looking forward to it.”
After monitoring the performance of his two drivers today, team principal Ross Brawn acknowledges that high fuel running could be the weak point of the MGP W01 in the race: “As always at Monaco, the track conditions evolved rapidly today and it was important to make full use of the available practice time.
“We lost some running with Nico this morning but he did well to come back and find reasonable solutions for the set-up. We followed our usual practice programme of set-up, fuel load and tyre comparisons today. Our low fuel pace seems reasonable but we have more work to do on high fuel before Sunday.
“Overall a reasonable start to the weekend and we are enjoying the unique challenge and working environment that Monaco provides.”
Norbert Haug was pleased that Mercedes seem closer to the front runners here in Monaco than they did last weekend in Spain: “[It was] quite a promising start to the weekend for us today and certainly a different picture from what we saw last Sunday in Barcelona. Nico and Michael’s lap times on both types of tyres with lesser fuel as well as during race simulation runs looked not bad at all. There is definitely more work to do before Saturday but so far so good.”