Thursday, 22 May 2008

Monaco Grand Prix: Practice One

Kimi Raikkonen took first blood in the opening practice session of the Grand Prix weekend, beating the McLaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen into second and third respectively. Felipe Massa took fourth for Ferrari as the two big teams looked in a class of their own at the front of the field. Nico Rosberg produced the surprise of the session, getting his Williams into P5 ahead of the likes of the BMWs.

Practice One got underway with the Monaco harbour bathed in beautiful Mediterranean sun. with no sign of any rain. There were major incidents as the drivers seemed to take things pretty tentatively in this first session while the track rubbered up a little. There was the odd lock up here and there, but no real spins or crashes.

The biggest drama of the session came about an hour in when the session was red-flagged. It wasn't for any accidents or breakdowns though. Several drivers had complained about a drain cover coming loose on the uphill run out of St Devote. After inspection from the race director a welder was called for and the problem fixed. Hopefully that will be the last problem of its kind to worry about, but it was certainly a strange one. The organisation and preparation for this race is usually absolutely meticulous and perfect.

As the session progressed it became clear that the drivers were favouring the harder of the two tyres. Bridgestone has brought some of its softest compounds to Monaco this weekend, but it seems the drivers are struggling to get more than a lap or two out of the option tyre. They're just too soft for the abrasive nature of the track. It will be interesting to see how this affects race strategy when all drivers will be forced to drive at least one stint on these super-soft tyres.

Toyota's Jarno Trulli ended his session by pulling off into the escape road after his car started smoking as it went through the tunnel. Nick Heidfeld was another to run into difficulties as he parked his BMW in Casino Square with a mystery technical gremlin. David Coulthard barely made it out of the pits in his Red Bull, just doing a few sighter laps and not even setting a time.

Practice One Times

01 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:15.948 26 laps
02 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:16.216 26 laps
03 H. Kovalainen McLaren 1:16.248 27 laps
04 F. Massa Ferrari 1:16.292 25 laps
05 N. Rosberg Williams 1:16.653 27 laps
06 R. Kubica BMW 1:16.653 27 laps
07 F. Alonso Renault 1:17.498 25 laps
08 R. Barrichello Honda 1:17.511 26 laps
09 M. Webber Red Bull 1:17.798 22 laps
10 G. Fisichella Force India F1 1:17.883 26 laps
11 T. Glock Toyota 1:17.942 26 laps
12 J. Button Honda 1:18.153 25 laps
13 S. Bourdais Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:18.245 30 laps
14 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:18.263 13 laps
15 K. Nakajima Williams 1:18.274 28 laps
16 J. Trulli Toyota 1:18.360 16 laps
17 A. Sutil Force India F1 1:18.360 25 laps
18 N. Piquet jr. Renault 1:18.955 32 laps
19 S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:19.176 35 laps
20 D. Coulthard Red Bull no time 3 laps

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