Monaco GP - Thursday - Practice Session 1 Report

Tiptoe

Lewis Hamilton, Monaco GP 2014

Lewis Hamilton, Monaco GP 2014 

 © The Cahier Archive

 

Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg topped the lap times as the drivers tiptoed around the Monaco streets in Free Practice 1.

Last year, Rosberg went quickest in FP1 at Monaco with a time of 1:16.195 in his Mercedes, and six drivers got into the 1:16s. This year Rosberg tiptoed around with a time of 1:18.303, and was one of only four drivers to get into the 1:18 range. Hamilton clocked a 1:18.271.

It was not a matter of if a driver would hit the wall during the practice sessions for this year's Monaco Grand Prix but when.

The first to do so was Adrian Sutil spun his Sauber at Mirabeau and lightly clipped the barrier with 10 minutes to go in FP1.

This year's new cars have masses of torque and reduced downforce, and the Pirelli tires this year are one step harder across the range. Thus the super soft and soft compound slicks used at Monaco this year were basically the equivalent of the soft and medium tires in 2013.

All this meant less grip and snap oversteer for the cars, which gets tricky at Monaco where the drivers get within an inch or two of the walls and barriers. No wonder the drivers planned to be conservative in FP1.

"This track is really difficult," said Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne. "You want to stay far away from the walls and at the beginning the walls always look really close, a lot close than in the end of the weekend. This is a particular track where even the first session, the first P1, is really important for the confidence over the whole weekend, so you really have to build up your weekend in a good way."

The ambient temperature at the start of the session was 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 73 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Centigrade.) There was a 20 percent chance of rain

The 2.075–mile (3.340-km) 19–turn track had been resurfaced from where it exited Casino Square (Turn 4) to Turn 9, which is at the entrance of the tunnel.

Esteban Gutierrez was the first out on to the circuit in his Sauber as the session began.

11 minutes into the session, last year's winner Nico Rosberg posted the first lap time – 1:24.681 – in his Mercedes. He lowered that to a 1:22.534 on his next tour and then did a 1:21.07 0. He was on the soft compound with the yellow sidewalls as he lowered his time down to a 1:20.094.

All the drivers used only the soft compound tire for FP1.

18 minutes into the session, nobody was even close to Rosberg. Felipe Massa was second after turning a 1:23.335 in his Williams. But then Lewis Hamilton moved into second after turning a 1:21.175 in his Mercedes.

20 minutes into the session, everybody was on the track except Rosberg.

A number of drivers missed the apex at the chicane, but as there are no walls there they didn't hit anything.

25 minutes into the session, Daniel Ricciardo topped the times with a 1:19.912 in his Red Bull while Max Chilton spun and stalled his Marussia at Mirabeau.

The top six at the 30 minute mark were: Ricciardo, Rosberg, Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), Hamilton, Sergio Perez (Force India) and Jenson Button (McLaren.) Nico Hulkenberg (Force India), Kevin Magnussen (McLaren), Massa and Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) rounded out the top 10.

36 minutes into the session, Rosberg and Hamilton were the only drivers on track as Rosberg lowered the benchmark to a 1:18.970. Then Hamilton moved into second with a time of 1:18.973. Rosberg came around again to post a 1:18.477.

42 minutes into the session, Hamilton took top honors with a 1:18.271.

Midway through FP1 the top six were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Ricciardo, Alonso, Button and Pastor Maldonado (Lotus.)

With 43 minutes remaining in the session, Raikkonen moved his Ferrari into fourth place with a time of 1:20.019.

With 41 minutes remaining in the session, Magnussen took over fourth with a 1:19.789.

With 40 minutes remaining in the session, everybody was on track except Hamilton and Ricciardo.

With 33 minutes remaining in the session, Sebastian Vettel was on the move and moved his Red Bull into fifth.

At the one hour mark the top six were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Ricciardo, Alonso, Vettel and Valtteri Bottas (Williams.) Ricciardo had improved to a 1:18.506.

With 26 minutes remaining in the session, Vettel set a 1:19.068, good enough for fourth place but still 0.815 of a second off Hamilton's best.

With 20 minutes remaining in the session, Rosberg was going quicker and lowered his time to a 1:18.303

With 10 minutes remaining in the session, Sutil spun his Sauber at Mirabeau. It was minor accident, however.

With 3 minutes remaining in the session, 19 drivers were on track. With 2 minutes to go, everybody but Chilton was out there. With just over a minter to go, Gutierrez locked his brakes and went straight off at the end of the pit straight. Then Raikkonen got crossed up at Mirabeau.

The top 10 at the end of FP1 were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Ricciardo, Alonso, Vettel, Raikkonen, Bottas, Perez, Magnussen and Hulkenberg.


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