Hamilton leads Verstappen in opening Monaco practice

by Paul Hensby

The Monaco Grand Prix weekend got underway with its traditional Thursday morning free practice session, and it was Lewis Hamilton who led the way for the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team, but the undoubted star of the session was Dutch teenager Max Verstappen, who ended up second quickest.

The track was damp when the ninety minute session began, and with low ambient temperatures and 80% of the circuit newly resurfaced, drivers were finding it hard to find grip, with many drivers testing the limits and running off the circuit at the harbour chicane and at Saint Devote, including Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso, Valtteri Bottas, Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean.

Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg were the early pacesetters, and were busiest drivers throughout the session, running 49 and 47 laps respectively as they concentrated on long runs after setting their best times, with Hamilton’s lap of 1m18.750s ultimately being good enough to end the session on top.

Rosberg slipped to ninth at the conclusion of the session as many drivers took advantage of the better track conditions to post fast times as the clock ticked down. It was Verstappen in his Scuderia Toro Rosso who did the best job, getting within 0.149s of Hamilton’s time, with his performance even more impressive with the fact that this is his first visit to the Monaco track.

Ricciardo finished the session third fastest, 0.336s back on the leading time, with the Australian just ahead of his former Infiniti Red Bull Racing team-mate Sebastian Vettel in the leading Scuderia Ferrari.

Fifth fastest was the second Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr, with the leading Lotus of Pastor Maldonado sixth. Daniil Kvyat was seventh for Red Bull ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari, while Rosberg and the Williams Martini Racing of Felipe Massa completed the top ten.

Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were just outside the top ten for the McLaren-Honda team, with the Briton being confined to the pit lane for much of the session as his mechanics did a thorough systems check on his MP4/30 before being allowed on track.

Romain Grosjean was thirteenth for Lotus, while Sergio Perez got the better of Nico Hulkenberg in the battle of the Sahara Force India drivers, the Mexican fourteenth and the German fifteenth.

Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson were sixteenth and eighteenth respectively for the Sauber F1 Team, either side of Valtteri Bottas’ Williams, who had a poor session on Thursday morning.

Will Stevens was once again the faster of the two Manor F1 Team drivers in FP1, with the Briton 0.170s faster than team-mate Roberto Merhi.

Monaco Grand Prix Practice 1 Times

144Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes1m18.750s
233Max VerstappenNEDToro Rosso-Renault1m18.899s
33Daniel RicciardoAUSRed Bull-Renault1m19.086s
45Sebastian VettelGERFerrari1m19.134s
555Carlos Sainz JrESPToro Rosso-Renault1m19.245s
613Pastor MaldonadoVENLotus-Mercedes1m19.454s
726Daniil KvyatRUSRed Bull-Renault1m19.520s
87Kimi RaikkonenFINFerrari1m19.679s
96Nico RosbergGERMercedes1m19.762s
1019Felipe MassaBRZWilliams-Mercedes1m19.766s
1114Fernando AlonsoESPMcLaren-Honda1m19.791s
1222Jenson ButtonGBRMcLaren-Honda1m20.202s
138Romain GrosjeanFRALotus-Mercedes1m20.274s
1411Sergio PerezMEXForce India-Mercedes1m20.619s
1527Nico HulkenbergGERForce India-Mercedes1m20.784s
1612Felipe NasrBRZSauber-Ferrari1m20.857s
1777Valtteri BottasFINWilliams-Mercedes1m20.917s
189Marcus EricssonSWESauber-Ferrari1m21.219s
1928Will StevensGBRManor-Ferrari1m23.234s
2098Roberto MerhiESPManor-Ferrari1m23.404s

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