Maldonado on top in free practice
Venezuelan fastest ahead of qualifying
Pastor Maldonado has confirmed his position as the man to beat in Monaco after setting the pace in today's free practice session, ahead of teammate Andreas Zuber and Bruno Senna.
The Piquet Sports driver improved on almost every lap around the Principality, setting a final time of 1:21.701 to take the top spot by almost half a second as his competitors struggled in vain to find a way to stay in touch.
Maldonado was the first man on track when the green light was shown, and was clearly determined to make the most of the traffic-free conditions to set the early pace, with Giorgio Pantano, Vitaly Petrov, Andy Soucek and Senna all swapping best laps in the first half of the session, but on the second set of tyres no one had an answer for the Venezuelan's tumbling times.
As can be expected on such a tight track there were a number of incidents as the drivers found and exceeded the limit: Jerome D'Ambrosio soon returned minus his left rear wheel, while Zuber knocked Adam Carroll into the wall as he tried to overtake on the run down from Casino, knocking the Ulsterman's right front tyre off the rim in the process. The Campos teammates both found the wall at St Devote, with Ben Hanley stopping immediately while Petrov escaped with minor damage to his car.
Behind the top three Soucek pipped Karun Chandhok to set an impressive fourth best time on his final lap, ahead of Pantano, Adrian Valles, Romain Grosjean and Alvaro Parente. With the hot, fine conditions set to continue through to this afternoon's qualifying session we are sure to see some fireworks as they push to be at the front of the grid for race one tomorrow.