By: Nancy Knapp Schilke
- Alonso on top with fastest time
- Hamilton was 1/10th slower
- Rosberg shows Mercedes power
Fernando Alonso turns a lap time of 1:15.123 to place his Ferrari on the top of the timesheets in Formula One’s second practice for the Monaco Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton was only .105 second slower with his best at 1:15.321 followed by Nico Rosberg with his best lap of 1:15.448 on the Circuit de Monaco.
“In Monaco it’s mainly a question of having a good feel for the car: the more the driver has, the harder he can push, lap after lap. It seems we are a bit more competitive than elsewhere, although one has to adopt the usual caution linked to the unknown factor of how much fuel the others were running,” said Alonso.
The Spaniard ended up with the fastest time of the day, and he just missed the top of the chart in the morning practice when Sebastian Vettel nipped him by .113 – just slightly faster than Alonso’s time over Hamilton. Not only is the street circuit tight but so were the time margins today. Perhaps of what can be expected in qualifying on Saturday.
“I immediately felt comfortable here, right from the morning, so I was able to push harder and harder, because the car was reacting well and I had confidence in it,” Alonso said. “I am pleased, but we know this is just the first day and that the Red Bulls could be hiding a bit, before coming out for Saturday’s qualifying.”
The street fight in Monte Carlo always has extra excitement as one wrong move can put the car out of action which happened a few times today in both the first and second practice. The final touch of a barrier was done with only minutes remaining in practice 2 when Vitaly Petrov hit the barrier in the famous chicane. The Russian was not alone for those who had incidents or near misses.
Even the fastest man of the day had a close call and with his own Ferrari teammate. On one of his early hot laps, Alonso nearly collided with his teammate who was cruising around the swimming pole area. Alonso averted Felipe Massa and no harm was done.
McLaren’s Hamilton gave it his best shot but knows that the important time to push will be on Saturday and Sunday. The Briton had a blast today as he commented, “It’s fantastic out there: I love the track, I love the weather. It’s a beautiful place to be. I’m enjoying every lap I drive - and I’ve got the best view of the whole of Monaco when I’m in the car! I’m very happy to be here - I’m really pleased with the balance of the car and I kept out of trouble, but it’s going to be close here.”
Mercedes has not always had the results they want but Rosberg has always been a fighter and with third fastest time today, he said: “It's great to be on the track again here in Monaco. I felt very comfortable from the beginning and we did quite a good job on the set-up. It can be difficult here to find the right settings as you have to put a lot of things together such as brake balance and tyre degradation, but we had a decent day and I'm happy with our start into the weekend.”
The excellent weather conditions in the morning continued with the temperature a tad warmer, reaching 45C at the start of the second session of the day. The plan of action for the Formula 1 teams was to run the harder Pirelli tire before testing out the super soft ones in the later part of the day. It was during the later runs that the times came down. Alonso had the top lap prior to the tire switch and even though Sebastian Vettel was first to best him on the softer tires, the Spaniard answered back with a very hot lap that no one else could touch.
Jenson Button was fourth fastest with a 1:15.448, over three-tenths off the pace but with practice really more of a shakedown with adjustments being made, the real true story will come into play during qualifying. “I feel more comfortable with the car than I did last year, but there are still a few areas that need tweaking,” he said.
Button spoke about the use of DRS on the tight circuit. “DRS and KERS Hybrid both work around here - I have no issues about deploying DRS, but I’m happy we can’t use it in the tunnel; the FIA definitely made the right decision there. I think we’ve also worked out where to best use KERS Hybrid.”
Vettel who was fastest in the morning practice ended up fifth. His Red Bull teammate Mark Webber, who had suffered a gearbox trouble in the morning did make it out to end up later with more problems, this time the function of the KERS.
The drivers will have time off tomorrow in preparation for practice three and qualifying n Saturday at 11:00am (local time). .