Early predictions claimed that the two Mercedes drivers would be one of the favorites to take the win on the streets of Monte Carlo.
Nico Rosberg set the fastest time in the opening day of the Grand Prix de Monaco. In fact the German topped the time sheets twice to lead both FIA Formula One practices. Rosberg's best lap was in the afternoon session with a 1:14.759. His teammate Lewis Hamilton was second best with a 1:15.077.
Rosberg said, "A very productive day for us. We completed a lot of laps and I feel comfortable in the car. It seems that we are quick again on one lap but we have been working hard again to make improvements to our race pace. It will be interesting to see where we are compared to the others over the weekend as it's not really representative today."
He added, "It feels great to be back here driving around the streets of my home city here again and I'm very much looking forward to the weekend."
Hamilton was 0.318 of a second off the pace of his teammate. The Briton commented: “It's been a positive start for us today and I'm pleased with what we have achieved here in Monaco.”
Practice day saw a lot of action on the tight circuit which leaves little margin for errors by even the world’s best drivers in the ultimate premier series. Many of the teams were testing the Pirelli tyres – mainly the super soft ones plus car setup for the weekend.
For the Grand Prix de Monaco, the Formula One teams will not be on track tomorrow. They return on Saturday for final practice prior to qualifying.
Hamilton explained, “We did some good long run work this afternoon and the supersoft tyres seem to be performing well. I need to improve my one lap pace however, partly with the balance of the car and partly from me.”
Ferrari also ended up with their two drivers setting nearly equal times on the Circuit de Monaco with Fernando Alonso turning a lap of 1:15.196 for the third best time of the day. He was closely followed by his teammate Felipe Massa who clocked a 1:15.278.
Mark Webber was fifth fastest as the Australian turned his best lap time at 1:15.404 while Sebastian Vettel's best in his Red Bull-Renault placed him ninth.
“I think traditionally we’re never too electric here on Thursday’s, so today was actually one of the better ones we’ve had in the last few years. You’ve got to be very, very focused here; concentration is very, very high. It’s a challenging venue to pull everything together,” said Webber.
Kimi Raikkonen placed his Lotus F1 sixth, just ahead of his teammate Romain Grosjean. The Finn’s best lap was a 1:15.511 while Grosjean fastest was two-tenths of a second slower. Raikkonen commented, “I was much happier at the end of today than this morning.”
However for Grosjean who was third fastest in the morning ended his afternoon early when he contacted a barrier on his out lap. The Frenchman explained “After a great start to the day it was a real shame to end things early. I didn’t have the grip I expected going into the corner, but there was nothing wrong with the car; my braking and entry speed were all wrong and I ended up hitting the barrier.”
McLaren’s Jenson Button has been in the news after the Honda announcement that they would supply engines next year for the McLaren team. However, now the Briton is focused on this weekend. With the eighth fastest practice time of 1:15.959.
Button said, “Our pace on a long run looks surprisingly good, although we’re not quite there with our qualifying pace yet. Still, I feel happier with the car here than I have the past few weekends. There are some areas in which we’ve struggled before that now seem a little bit better, and that’s obviously positive.”