Nico Rosberg confirmed many people’s suspicion that Mercedes would be the team to beat in Monte Carlo by topping both Thursday practice sessions. The German led teammate Lewis Hamilton in a 1-2 for the Brackley-based squad this afternoon as their single lap performance came to the fore again.
The opening session was a close affair between Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus with Rosberg quickest on a 1:16.195 but as is so often the case in Monaco, the track evolution ensured the times would plummet in an incident packed second session.
Romain Grosjean was among the pacesetters throughout the day but before the Frenchman had an opportunity to demonstrate his ability on the supersoft tyres, he wiped off the front left corner of his Lotus at St Devote after locking up on the way into the turn. The session would be halted by a red flag shortly afterwards but not for the stationary Lotus, but for damage to kerbing at the Swimming Pool which required attention.
Once the circuit was clear, the chase was on to close down Rosberg who had used his option tyres to set a 1:14.759 but only Hamilton in the sister Mercedes could get within four tenths, clocking a 1:15.077 to finish second quickest, a tenth ahead of Fernando Alonso. Felipe Massa followed up his Ferrari teammate in fourth with Mark Webber the leading Red Bull driver in fifth, claiming to be happier with his Thursday running than on his two previous successful Monaco GP weekends.
Kimi Raikkonen was seven tenths off the pace in sixth with Grosjean’s accident in the second Lotus seeing him slip to seventh, just ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button in eighth. Sebastian Vettel wound up an uncompetitive ninth after failing to improve on the supersoft tyres with the two Force Indias close behind him, Paul Di Resta edging out Adrian Sutil for tenth.