Monaco GP: Hamilton leads FP1 as Verstappen stars

Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time for Mercedes in the opening practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix on Thursday morning.

The Briton finished ahead of rookie sensation Max Verstappen – as Hamilton's teammate Nico Rosberg clipped the wall and finished down in ninth.

On his first visit to drive the streets of the principality, Toro Rosso’s teenaged ace Verstappen recorded an amazing 1m18.899s, just 0.149s off Hamilton’s fastest time.

Daniel Ricciardo was third fastest for Red Bull, ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and the second Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz.

Story of the session

During a short run on intermediates on an almost-dry track – following overnight rain in Monaco – Hamilton demonstrated his intent for the weekend straight away by passing Rosberg on the exit of Tabac.

Hamilton soon rejoined the track on soft-compound slicks, setting the benchmark slick time of 1m23.992s, then a proper 1m22.103s.

Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull ran second early on with a 1m23.789s, 1.6s off Hamilton’s pace, then went off up the Ste Devote escape road on his second run, and repeated the feat on his third run.

Hamilton lowered the fastest time to 1m21.622s on second outing, while Rosberg clipped the wall at the exit of Tabac on his fifth lap, which sent him pitwards on his first set of tyres.

He rejoined early on his second set for a long run, recording a 1m22.607s baseline, then working down to 1m22.449s and 21.744s.

Rosberg briefly went top on 1m20.720s, before Hamilton responded with 1m19.764s, before Nico set a 1m19.762s, 0.002s off Hamilton’s best.

Deep into his long run, Hamilton unleashed a 1m19.196s, faster by just over half a second, and stamped his authority on the session with a 1m18.759s, over a second quicker than Rosberg, and further trimmed another 0.009s off his best effort.

Vettel leapt up to second after 55 minutes with a 1m19.382s, before shaving the wall at Casino Square with a massive opposite lock slide.

He improved to a 1m19.134s, 0.384s off Hamilton, with Ricciardo then grabbing second late on with a 1m19.086s, which included the fastest first sector of all.

Verstappen then set his stunning 1m18.899s effort to eclipse everyone but Hamilton. Behind Ricciardo and Vettel, the second Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr was fifth fastest, ahead of Pastor Maldonado’s Lotus and Daniel Kvyat’s Red Bull.

Rosberg slipped to ninth by the end of the session, behind Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari but ahead of Felipe Massa’s Williams, and the McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.

Numerous off-track excursions

There were plenty of incidents on a ‘green’ Monaco, with the Ste Devote escape road visited first by Sainz – who complained: “I have a lot of rear locking, it’s not normal” – along with Alonso, Lotus duo Romain Grosjean and Maldonado, Will Stevens and twice by Valtteri Bottas, who performed the two best spin-turns of the day.

The final Ste Devote run-off vistor was Verstappen, who was clearly finding his limits at the end of the session.

Sainz (twice), Grosjean, Nico Hulkenberg and Roberto Merhi also straightlined the Harbour Chicane, with Vettel, Kvyat and Hamilton locking up and overshooting at the Swimming Pool too.

Pos   Driver   Car / Engine   Time   Gap   Laps 
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1'18.750   49
Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Renault 1'18.899 0.149 42
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1'19.086 0.336 27
Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1'19.134 0.384 31
Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Renault 1'19.245 0.495 40
Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Mercedes 1'19.454 0.704 35
Daniil Kvyat Red Bull/Renault 1'19.520 0.770 33
Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1'19.679 0.929 31
Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1'19.762 1.012 47
10  Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1'19.766 1.016 32
11  Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1'19.791 1.041 28
12  Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1'20.202 1.452 15
13  Romain Grosjean Lotus/Mercedes 1'20.274 1.524 34
14  Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1'20.619 1.869 35
15  Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1'20.784 2.034 34
16  Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1'20.857 2.107 24
17  Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1'20.917 2.167 36
18  Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1'21.219 2.469 25
19  Will Stevens Marussia/Ferrari 1'23.234 4.484 28
20  Roberto Merhi Marussia/Ferrari 1'23.404 4.654 31

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Monaco GP
Sub-event Thursday practice 1
Track Monte Carlo
Drivers Lewis Hamilton
Teams Mercedes
Article type Practice report