Monaco GP - Thursday - Practice Session 1 Report

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Nico Rosberg

Nico Rosberg 

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Monaco resident Nico Rosberg set the fastest time in his Mercedes in Friday’s Free Practice 1 for the Monaco Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) and Romain Grosjean (Lotus) took second and third.

Sauber teammates Esteban Gutierrez and Nico Hulkenberg were the first two out on the streets of the Principality as the 90 minute session began under clear blue skies and sparkling sun.

The ambient air temperature at the start of the session was73.4 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius), and the track temperature was 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit (31 degrees Celsius.)

After completing their installation laps the drivers headed back to the crowded pit lane to have their cars checked over before beginning their assault on the narrow barrier-lined track. Ten minutes into the session the track was quiet with all the cars in the pits.

14 minutes into the session, Sergio Perez broke the silence as he sliced around the track in his McLaren. But he did not do a flying lap and went into the pits where the mechanics backed his car into the garage. By this time he had actually completed four separate installation laps but come into the pits after each one.

20 minutes into the session, nobody had yet posted a flying lap.

Everybody was saving their tires and waiting for somebody else to clean the racing line around the track. Pirelli has offered to supply an extra set of hard tires to the teams to alleviate this situation, but the teams can’t agree how

Nico Rosberg had time to munch on a banana in the Mercedes garage. Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa relaxed on their comfy chairs in the Ferrari garage. Hulkenberg chatted with his engineer. Sebastian Vettel talked to Red Bull’s racing chief Helmut Marko. The fans basked in the sunshine. The yachts in the harbor glistened. It was all very peaceful.

33 minutes into the session, Gutierrez became the first driver to break the stalemate. Toro Rosso teammates Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne, the latter wearing the helmet livery of French F1 hero Francois Cevert, headed out a couple of minutes later.

37 minutes into the session, Ricciardo was the first to post a time, clocking a 1:24.466. Gutierrez lowered that to a 1:24.130, and then Ricciardo did a 1:22.825. Gutierrez slammed in a 1:21.984 and Ricciardo beat that with a 1:21.493.

Gutierrez broke in the 1:19s and Ricciardo went even quicker with a 1:19.753. The track was getting rubbered in as more drivers headed out.

42 minutes into the session, Massa topped the times with a 1:18.818.

At the midpoint of FP1 the top six were: Massa, Ricciardo, Gutierrez, Jenson Button (McLaren), Hulkenberg and Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus). Only 10 drivers had posted a time at this stage.

Massa was the first into the 1:17s with a 1:17.685.

47 minutes into the session, Nico Rosberg turned a 1:17.005 in his Mercedes, but Alonso beat that with a 1:16.842.

50 minutes into the session, Rosberg lowered the top time to a 1:16.195 as Alonso improved to a 1:16.302. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Romain Grosjean (Lotus) and Pastor Maldonado (Williams) also joined the 1:16 lap club.

Other than a few drivers cutting across the Turn 10 chicane, the boys were being remarkably well behaved. Nobody had spun or hit the wall hard yet.

At the one hour mark the top six were: Rosberg, Alonso, Grosjean, Hamilton (who had slid of the track at Turn 1), Maldonado and Mark Webber (Red Bull.) Webber, with a time of 1:17.020, was the first of the drivers outside the 1:16s.

Sitting at the bottom of the timing screens were Vergne (1:20.306) and Marussia’s Max Chilton whose best yet was a 1:20.894.

With 22 minutes remaining in the session, only five drivers were on the track. Rosberg’s 1:16.195 was still the time to beat. Alonso was close with a 1:16.282, a mere .087 slower.

With 13 minutes remaining in the session, Massa moved into third with a 1:16.394.

With 10 minutes remaining in the session, the top six were: Rosberg, Alonso, Massa, Grosjean, Hamilton and Maldonado. They were also the only six drivers in the 1:16s.

With 6 minutes remaining in the session, only Vergne and Ricciardo were not on the track.

With 5 minutes remaining in the session, Adrian Sutil became the first spinner as he looped his Force India at Turn 1.

Sutil was the only driver not out there as the session ended. The top six were: Rosberg, Alonso, Grosjean (who moved into third with a minute to go), Massa, Hamilton and Maldonado. Webber, McLaren teammates Button and Sergio Perez, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, Raikkonen and Force India’s Paul di Resta rounded out the top dozen.

After the checkered flag had been waved, the drivers headed for the pit straight to try some practice starts. At other tracks they do this during the session at pit exit, but that’s not feasible at Monaco.


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