Alonso sets the pace in Monaco GP first practice

Alonso sets the pace in Monaco GP first practice

It was race drivers who made up most of the top places in the first practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix, with Renault's Fernando Alonso clocking the fastest time of 1:16.712. Honda third driver Anthony Davidson was second, a tenth and a...

It was race drivers who made up most of the top places in the first practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix, with Renault's Fernando Alonso clocking the fastest time of 1:16.712. Honda third driver Anthony Davidson was second, a tenth and a half down, and Alonso's teammate Giancarlo Fisichella was third. Michael Schumacher's Ferrari and Juan Pablo Montoya's McLaren were fourth and fifth.

Fernando Alonso.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Conditions were warm and sunny as BMW Sauber third driver Robert Kubica led out, followed by counterparts Alex Wurz (Williams), Robert Doornbos (Red Bull), Davidson and Neel Jani (Toro Rosso). The Super Aguris of Franck Montagny and Takuma Sato, MF1's Tiago Monteiro and the Toro Rossos of Tonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed also joined the track.

Davidson clocked 1:23.219, with Wurz less than a tenth behind, then the Williams No.3 took over with a 1:21.294. Davidson responded to post 1:20.999 and Christijan Albers' MF1 came out for his installation lap, followed by Giorgio Mondini who is MF1 third driver this weekend. Wurz answered Davidson with a 1:20.287 then they both improved again, Wurz's 1:19.262 four tenths up on the Honda.

Kubica was next on the time sheet in third and Jacques Villeneuve was the first BMW Sauber racer to put in an appearance. Sato took the fourth slot but was immediately demoted by Montagny and the pair were then separated by Doornobs. Sato improved to go ahead of the Red Bull but Doornbos stayed out and went ahead of both Super Aguris for fourth.

Ralf Schumacher's Toyota went out for an installation lap and Kubica took over the top spot with a 1:19.199, less than a tenth up on Wurz. Jani posted seventh and Mondini eighth, while Davidson wound up a flyer of 1:17.736. He stayed out and lowered it to 1:17.549, over a second and a half up on Kubica. Mondini moved ahead of Jani for seventh and in the first half hour there were only eight drivers on the time sheet.

The Renaults of Fisichella and Alonso put in a brief appearance, followed by the Williams of Nico Rosberg, and Mondini climbed a couple of places to fifth. Villeneuve's first timed lap was over five seconds off the pace, while the Ferrari of Felipe Massa and Red Bull's Christian Klien took to the track. Villeneuve improved to fourth then lost the place to Massa.

Mark Webber's Williams and David Coulthard's Red Bull were on the circuit, while Doornbos relegated Villeneuve another spot when he took fifth. Monteiro's first timed effort put him 11th, over five seconds down on the leader -- only Kubica and Wurz were within a second of Davidson at that time. Villeneuve moved ahead of Doornbos again and Monteiro improved to seventh.

Webber clocked sixth on his first flyer and Speed joined the tail end of the pack in 13th but lost it to Albers. Rosberg joined in 10th and Liuzzi took the place off him, but Rosberg then improved to seventh. Webber went up one to fifth, while Toyota's Jarno Trulli and Honda's Jenson Button were next out on track. Webber was still climbing, up another place to fourth.

Trulli joined at the bottom of the list and Button posted 10th on his first flyer. Alonso took second on his first timed effort , just under a tenth off Davidson, and Ralf took the 10th spot. Button improved to fifth and Trulli to ninth and Alonso took over at the top, 1:16.712 for eight tenths up on Davidson. Fisichella slotted into third and Rubens Barrichello's Honda started with 20th.

Kubica came to a halt in the middle sector and with 15 minutes to go Michael's Ferrari went out on track. Fisichella went up one to second, seven tenths off Alonso, and Michael arrived on the time sheet in sixth. Barrichello improved to eighth and Michael moved up to second, the gap to Alonso two and a half tenths. Fisichella demoted the Ferrari and closed on Alonso to a tenth and a half.

Coulthard finally got on the list in 15th then climbed to 10th, which left just Klein, the McLarens and BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld to set a time. Davidson went into second, fractionally ahead of Fisichella, and Klien made a move to post 19th. Montoya appeared in the last five minutes and took sixth then the McLaren moved up to fifth, seven and a half tenths off the pace.

There were no last minute efforts and Alonso remained at the top, only the first five less than a second apart. McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen just edged onto the time sheet in 27th but had some kind of car problem before he could set a fast lap. Heidfeld did not set a time. Final top eight classification: Alonso, Davidson, Fisichella, M, Schumacher, Montoya, Kubica, Wurz, Button.

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Series FORMULA 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Takuma Sato , Jarno Trulli , Jenson Button , Ralf Schumacher , Juan Pablo Montoya , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Mark Webber , David Coulthard , Jacques Villeneuve , Nick Heidfeld , Kimi Raikkonen , Anthony Davidson , Fernando Alonso , Alexander Wurz , Christijan Albers , Felipe Massa , Tiago Monteiro , Robert Doornbos , Scott Speed , Nico Rosberg , Neel Jani , Christian Klien , Robert Kubica , Giorgio Mondini
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Toro Rosso , Williams