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.
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.
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|
|2||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||1'18.899||0.149||42|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1'19.086||0.336||27|
|5||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1'19.245||0.495||40|
|7||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||1'19.520||0.770||33|
|14||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1'20.619||1.869||35|
|15||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1'20.784||2.034||34|