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Vettel leads Monaco Grand Prix FP2 with Formula 1 lap record while Mercedes falters

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Vettel leads Monaco Grand Prix FP2 with Formula 1 lap record while Mercedes falters
May 25, 2017, 3:13 PM

Sebastian Vettel dominated the second practice session of the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix, setting the fastest ever lap at the prestigious circuit,...

Sebastian Vettel dominated the second practice session of the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix, setting the fastest ever lap at the prestigious circuit, while championship rivals Mercedes seemed less competitive in the warmer FP2 session, after setting the fastest time in FP1.

So were Mercedes sandbagging, or is there some work to be done?

"We just struggled to extract the grip from the tyres and we were sliding around a lot," said Hamilton. "I'm not sure why the tyres weren't working but the difference between the two sessions was night and day. But there is some work to do before Saturday."

The fact is that there is plenty more to come from all the cars, drivers and tyres as the weekend goes on and pole will be seconds inside the 1m 13.6s lap that took pole last year.

Vettel's time of 1m12.720s was nearly half a second quicker than Daniel Ricciardo; the Red Bull equipped with a T-wing for the first time this season, among a package of upgrades. The team was cautiously optimistic that they can be competitive, but wait to see what Mercedes has up its sleeve before getting too excited.

Ricciardo was less guarded: ""We have good downforce here, the rear of the car feels like it is working the best it has so far this year. If we can get the tires warmed up I think we can be pretty close on Saturday," he said.

"It is always so much fun to drive this track. We are looking pretty good at the moment. We put some good laps together and know where we need to improve so I’m very happy with our position after the first day.

Ricciardo, last year's polesitter, was 0.487s off the leader but that was enough for second. His team-mate Max Verstappen was sixth fastest, 0.313s ahead of Force India's Sergio Perez (7th), who managed a podium here in 2016.

Vettel topped the charts with his first flying lap, a blistering effort in clean air which also showed Ferrari's ability to keep its tyres in the optimum temperature window. And it really is all about that here this weekend, the ultrasoft tyres and the supersoft are both very durable for this race track with its smooth surface. A step softer would be ideal.

Not all teams are able to switch on the tyres, Sauber, for example, was well off the lap times of the next slowest cars as it simply couldn't get the tyres to work.

The ultrasoft was 0.7s faster than the supersoft and so will be the dominant tyre in the race weekend, but the tyre doesn't come in on its first lap, so you will see cars circulating several times in order to get a lap time, which will lead to issues wth traffic in Q1 and Q2 especially.

The drivers' championship leader was also the fastest driver on the super-soft compound. Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, in third place, was 0.563s off Vettel.

Sergio Perez looked competitive for Force India in seventh, while Esteban Ocon was down in 15th.

Toro Rosso had a very successful Thursday as Daniil Kvyat finished the session in fourth and Carlos Sainz Jr was fifth. Kvyat set a time of 1m13.331s to do so.

Kvyat continued his strong showing from FP1, having finished sixth in that session with a time of 1m14.111s – ahead of Raikonnen.

Mercedes had a difficult FP2 as both drivers finished one second off the pace.

Lewis Hamilton was eighth with a time of 1m13.873s, Valtteri Bottas 10th (0.029s slower) with Haas' Kevin Magnussen splitting them both.

Mercedes struggled to find the tyres' temperature sweet-spot and some clean air to run in. Teams rushed to gain some running time as a red flag was flown with less than 40 minutes remaining, causing the inevitable Monaco traffic jam.

Lance Stroll hit the barriers with the right-side of his Williams at Casino Square with the front wing and the front-right tyre heavily damaged.

Both Williams noticeably struggled with grip on the newly resurfaced circuit; Felipe Massa was 13th fastest.

Returnee Jenson Button, filling in for Fernando Alonso, was 0.022s faster than Massa but 0.035s slower than team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, Button reporting that he really liked the feel of the 2017 car and that the amount of grip these cars have here in Monaco is a huge step on from last year.

More importantly for McLaren, the team managed two practice sessions of solid, reliable running with 79 laps completed between the two drivers in FP2.

Renault had a far more difficult Thursday as Jolyon Palmer's car pulled over pouring out smoke just before the tunnel section and he only managed eight laps of running in the second session.

Nico Hulkenberg's ERS failed in FP1, preventing him from getting a run-out in that session, but the issues were dealt with in FP2, Hulkenberg having finished 17th with 41 laps completed.

Sauber's Marcus Ericsson didn't manage to set a time in FP1 either with a gearbox failure. Both Saubers were nearly three seconds off the pace at the bottom of the leaderboard by the end of FP2.

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Results, Free Practice 2, Monaco Grand Prix:

POSITION

DRIVER

CAR

TIME

GAP

LAPS

1

Sebastian Vettel

Ferrari

1m12.720s

-

38

2

Daniel Ricciardo

Red Bull

1m13.207s

0.487s

35

3

Kimi Raikkonen

Ferrari

1m13.283s

0.563s

46

4

Daniil Kvyat

Toro Rosso

1m13.331s

0.611s

41

5

Carlos Sainz

Toro Rosso

1m13.400s

0.680s

43

6

Max Verstappen

Red Bull

1m13.486s

0.766s

36

7

Sergio Perez

Force India

1m13.799s

1.079s

45

8

Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes

1m13.873s

1.153s

31

9

Kevin Magnussen

Haas/Ferrari

1m13.890s

1.170s

46

10

Valtteri Bottas

Mercedes

1m13.902s

1.182s

39

11

Stoffel Vandoorne

McLaren

1m13.946s

1.226s

42

12

Jenson Button

McLaren

1m13.981s

1.261s

37

13

Felipe Massa

Williams

1m14.003s

1.283s

46

14

Romain Grosjean

Haas/Ferrari

1m14.022s

1.302s

44

15

Esteban Ocon

Force India

1m14.093s

1.373s

47

16

Lance Stroll

Williams

1m14.474s

1.754s

27

17

Nico Hulkenberg

Renault

1m14.870s

2.150s

41

18

Jolyon Palmer

Renault

1m15.616s

2.896s

8

19

Marcus Ericsson

Sauber

1m15.691s

2.971s

32

20

Pascal Wehrlein

Sauber

1m15.695s

2.975s

37

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