McLaren sets early Monaco GP pace

McLaren sets early Monaco GP pace

Track action got under way on Thursday morning on the streets of Monte Carlo and it was McLaren that set the pace in the first practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso clocked the best time of 1:16.973, just over sixth tenths up...

Track action got under way on Thursday morning on the streets of Monte Carlo and it was McLaren that set the pace in the first practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso clocked the best time of 1:16.973, just over sixth tenths up on teammate Lewis Hamilton. There were no major incidents on the street circuit, although one or two bumps and scrapes caused a couple of caution periods.

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren Mercedes and Fernando Alonso, McLaren Mercedes, with Steinmetz Diamonds in their helmets.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Through most of the session Ferrari was next in line behind the McLarens but come the end, Nick Heidfeld's BMW Sauber had claimed the third spot. The German was just fractionally off Hamilton's time, while the second BMW of Robert Kubica was ninth. However, the Pole had been closer to Heidfeld until towards the end when improvements by others put a few cars between them.

Giancarlo Fisichella had a fairly good morning, mostly in the top 10 for Renault, and in the last 10 minutes he put in a good lap for fourth. Unfortunately just afterwards he went into the barriers at Ste Devote, causing a brief yellow flag period. Heikki Kovalainen finished some way down the times in 16th, about one and a half seconds off Fisichella's pace, but he had been higher up the times previously.

Kimi Raikkonen was the lead Ferrari in fifth, although teammate Felipe Massa, who finished eighth, was the only one of the two red cars to briefly top the times in this session. Raikkonen was just over nine tenths off Alonso, and Massa 1.2, but again it's perhaps a little misrepresentative as the late improvements of others put more space between the McLarens and Ferraris.

Williams did another reasonable job, Nico Rosberg seventh and Alex Wurz 11th, while it was Red Bull that appeared to gaining ground. Mark Webber was sixth and David Coulthard 13th but the Scot had also been in the top 10 until right near the end. Webber came to a halt just about as the chequered flag came out with what looked a left rear puncture after he clipped the barrier at Ste Devote.

Rubens Barrichello rounded out the top 10 and Honda teammate Jenson Button was 17th. Toro Rosso was not too far off the pace of sister team Red Bull, Scott Speed in 12th ahead of Coulthard and Tonio Liuzzi 15th. Both Toro Rossos had been higher up the times, Speed as high as eighth in the last half hour. The American was a second off Webber and Liuzzi two tenths behind Coulthard.

Takuma Sato had also been up and down the times fairly often and finished 14th, while the second Super Aguri of Anthony Davidson was 18th. Toyota had initially led the way when the session started but at the end of the hour and a half Jarno Trulli was 19th and Ralf Schumacher 20th, both two and a half seconds off the pace of the McLarens.

Spyker was at the bottom of the list; Christijan Albers was an early retiree from the session when his car stopped on track at Tabac, which bought out the red flags for a few minutes. He had only managed five laps and was 22nd. Adrian Sutil was 21st, over four and a half seconds off the leaders. Final top eight classification: Alonso, Hamilton, Heidfeld, Fisichella, Raikkonen, Webber, Rosberg, Massa.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Takuma Sato , Jarno Trulli , Ralf Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Mark Webber , David Coulthard , Nick Heidfeld , Kimi Raikkonen , Anthony Davidson , Fernando Alonso , Alexander Wurz , Christijan Albers , Lewis Hamilton , Scott Speed , Nico Rosberg , Heikki Kovalainen , Robert Kubica , Adrian Sutil
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Toro Rosso , Williams