Monaco GP - Thursday - Practice Session 1 Report
Alonso tops Monaco opening practice
In the aftermath of Red Bull's domination in Spain, Fernando Alonso said that he was still confident that he could challenge for the title over the 19-race season and he comes to Monaco just three points behind championship leader Jenson Button. Alonso it was who topped the first session of practice for Sunday's race with a lap in 1:15.927.
Second quickest was Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull (1:16.000), from Robert Kubica's Renault (1:16.016). Barcelona winner Mark Webber lapped in 1:16.382 and Felipe Massa recorded 1:16.517 with the second Ferrari, fractionally quicker than Michael Schumacher's Mercedes (1:16.589). The seven times champion has won the Monaco race five times.
With high downforce Monte Carlo a totally different sort of circuit to Barcelona, McLaren is hoping that it can challenge for a win in the Principality, with Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton having won the last two Monaco races, Button taking a great pole position and win for Brawn last year. They are evenly matched after the first 90 minutes of on-track action, with Hamilton stopping the clocks in 1:16.647 and Button recording 1:16.692.
Adrian Sutil is always strong at Monaco and had the first Force India up in ninth place (1:16.805) as Toro Rosso's Sebastian Buemi completed the top 10 (1:16.857). Experience counts for a lot around the tight confines of Monaco's streets and nobody has more of it than Rubens Barrichello, the Brazilian well in touch, 12th quickest, with a lap in 1:17.331. Team mate Nico Hulkenberg, having his first experience of Monaco in an F1 car, completed 39 laps, more than anyone else, and finished up 16th on 1:18.397.
Timo Glock's Virgin Racing entry was quickest of the new teams on 1:19.527, ahead of Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus (1:19.606), team mate Jarno Trulli (1:19.902), who won the race in 2004, Lucas di Grassi (1:20.566), Bruno Senna (1:21.688) and Karun Chandhok (1:21.853). Chandhok's time was achieved in just six laps, however, the HRT driver clipping the barrier at Massenet and bringing his practice to a premature halt. Kamui Kobayashi, another Monaco F1 virgin, also clipped the barrier at the Swimming Pool in the dying moments of the session, but without doing extensive damage to his Sauber.