A sunny saturday morning in Monaco was marked with an action packed practice session as teams aimed to make up for the lost running on Thursday afternoon and to get their cars in the correct set up for Qualifying later today. But throughout the session it was Nico Rosberg setting the pace but by the end, it was his team-mate Lewis Hamilton fastest round the streets of the Principality.
Before the session had started, Red Bull opted to send Ricciardo out to wait at the pit exit to ensure he had track position for his installation lap. As for the rest of the pack they waited for the green light to shine before sailing out of the pit lane. Most of the field chose to only carry out their installation laps but the Caterham’s and Ferrari’s chose to stay out. Well, initially.
The Ferrari pair of Alonso and Raikkonen may have stayed out to start a timed lap but neither actually stayed out to complete the lap. Leaving the track open for the Caterham pair to go 1-2…. Whilst they had the empty track.
Whilst the track was relatively free from traffic it was looking good for Magnussen in his McLaren, setting some good early pace, but unfortunately still found himself 3 seconds back to the Mercedes’ once they set their first times.
But Rosberg in his Mercedes didn’t want to stop there and kept pushing his car around the streets of Monaco faster than anyone else and kept his place on the top step. Each lap that went by allowed Rosberg to find more and more speed as he become even more dialled in to the track. Even setting a fastest lap time of the session when still on the soft tyres, when others began to make the switch to supersoft tyres.
Although Nico was finding pace in his Mercedes, things weren’t going exactly to plan for Lewis who began to suffer oversteer. Almost resulting in him finding the wall at Tabac, but Hamilton was able to keep his car on the track.
Oversteer was not the only thing catching drivers out around Monaco as the bumps of the roads helped none and in Button’s McLaren he was suffering a brake issue that saw him miss a majority of the session and will put him on the back foot ahead of qualifying, which takes place in less than two hours. Vergne was also having an unfortunate session near the end after locking up going into turn one and finding the run off area. Before he would later go on and find himself off the track again at Mirabeau.
Later on into the session everyone running went out for their qualifying simulation laps on the supersoft tyres, which saw the Red Bull of Ricciardo take over from the Mercs. Vettel potentially could have seen himself record a better lap time if it wasn’t for traffic. Mainly coming from the Williams of Massa, who had let Vettel go past on one lap but the cameras later picked up an angry Vettel back behind the Brazilian.
Luckily for Hamilton this was not to be the case as he found enough clear track around the narrow streets to be able to go fastest overall ahead of the most important qualifying session of the year. But don’t expect qualifying to be a full drawn conclusion after this as Rosberg was setting blistering times whilst on the soft tyres so he could be in with a shout for pole. Or will we see a Red Bull get on the front row? All is still to be played for as we look ahead to qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix.