Thursday, 22 May 2008

Monaco Grand Prix: Practice Two

Lewis Hamilton signaled his and McLaren's intent to return to winning ways with a blistering lap to take the top spot in Thursday's second free practice session. His 1:15.1s lap put him almost a full four tenths of a second ahead of the rest. The man who took the spot behind Hamilton wasn't either his teammate or a Ferrari driver. It was Williams' Nico Rosberg, who was proving his form in the first session was no fluke. The young German is on fire so far in Monaco, and he will no doubt have raised a few eyebrows in the paddock.

Kimi Raikkonen followed up his fine performance in first practice with a solid third place for Ferrari ahead of Massa, Kovalainen and Kubica. Kubica's BMW though was a full 1.1 seconds behind Hamilton's time, which will be disheartening for them after their poor showing in Turkey. Perhaps BMW are beginning to wane after their excellent early season pace?

Fernando Alonso was seventh, but it was a rather eventful session for Alonso and indeed the whole Renault team. Firstly Nelson Piquet spun at the apex of St Devote and went backwards into the tyre barrier. Fortunately he was able to driver himself out of the barrier, but his rear wing was damaged and needed replacing. Then shortly after that Fernando Alonso also lost the back end going through St Devote. He would on the opposite lock, but was eventually saved from spinning by his rear end clipping the armco barrier. He was able to keep the car pointing the right way up the hill, but ended up losing his rear wing in the process. The session was red flagged to clear the debris.

Adrian Sutil was another driver who tasted armco in this session. He caught too much kerb in la Rascasse and bounced into the barrier on the corner exit, damaging his front wing. In truth, both the Force Indias and Toro Rossos have struggled badly so far. Teams with their limited budgets and resources aren't able to prepare unique suspension set ups in the multi-million pound simulators like the big teams do, and they struggle with the unique demands of the Monte Carlo bumps and kerbs.

Elsewhere, David Coulthard finally got some track time under his belt after the team fixed what turned out to be a throttle problem in first practice. He finished in 14th place, just behind his teammate Webber. The Hondas have looked pretty decent so far in practice, with both drivers in the top ten in this session. They look fairly evenly matched on pace with the likes of the Renaults here, which is good news for the Japanese squad.

So the drivers now go for their day off on Friday (the only circuit where that happens), while the teams will no doubt be hard at work preparing their cars and doing the maths for the all important race strategies. The action will recommence on Saturday with a morning practice session, and then the qualifying session which is perhaps more important here than at any other circuit.

Practice Two Times

01 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:15.140 40 laps
02 N. Rosberg Williams 1:15.533 39 laps
03 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:15.572 42 laps
04 F. Massa Ferrari 1:15.869 37 laps
05 H. Kovalainen McLaren 1:15.881 39 laps
06 R. Kubica BMW 1:16.296 34 laps
07 F. Alonso Renault 1:16.310 27 laps
08 J. Button Honda 1:16.351 45 laps
09 K. Nakajima Williams 1:16.372 40 laps
10 R. Barrichello Honda 1:16.418 32 laps
11 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:16.426 44 laps
12 T. Glock Toyota 1:16.688 46 laps
13 M. Webber Red Bull 1:17.094 39 laps
14 D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:17.131 39 laps
15 N. Piquet jr. Renault 1:17.246 35 laps
16 G. Fisichella Force India F1 1:17.251 33 laps
17 J. Trulli Toyota 1:17.379 28 laps
18 S. Bourdais Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:17.581 38 laps
19 A. Sutil Force India F1 1:18.176 31 laps
20 S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:18.225 38 laps

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