Alonso is fastest in Monaco Practice
There was little change at the sharp end of the field in the second free practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix this afternoon as Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso continued to lead the way, setting down a firm marker to his rivals for the rest of the weekend. The Spaniard improved on his morning laptime by over a second and lapped over a tenth quicker than his nearest rival.
There was little delay in first laptime getting on the board at the start of the session, with Hispania’s Bruno Senna setting the benchmark at 1m25.830s. A barrage of improvements followed with McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton lowering the target to a 1m17.709s just six minutes later, before Tonio Liuzzi, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber all took to the front briefly. Renault’s Robert Kubica then made himself one to watch by beating them all with a 1m15.935s, before cutting a further four tenths off his time on the following lap to set a 1m15.589s.
By then, teams were beginning to load their cars up with fuel for the customary long runs in preparation for Sunday’s race, and improvements were few and far between until the focus switched to testing the super-soft Bridgestone tyre a quarter of an hour later. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso were the first to make the switch, and duly climbed to the top with times of 1m15.535s and 1m15.435s respectively. Alonso then improved by half a second on the subsequent lap, breaking the beam at 1m14.904s to cement his lead.
The increasingly overcast Monte Carlo skies then resulted in the track temperature tumbling from a high of 41°C to the high twenties, and with drivers struggling with ageing tyres and slower traffic on-track, Alonso’s time went unchallenged. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg came closest on a 1m15.013s, but was still over a tenth off the pace, while Felipe Massa also lost a place to Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel who set a 1m15.099s shortly before the hour mark. That left Massa fourth on a 1m15.120s, fractionally ahead of former team-mate Michael Schumacher (1m15.143s) in the Mercedes.
Much like this morning’s session, the 24 drivers were remarkably well-behaved, with few major incidents to report. Turn 1 proved too tricky for Glock, Di Grassi and Massa as they sampled the limited run-off at Sainte Devote, while Alguersuari Schumacher and Liuzzi all took turns in missing the apex of the Nouvelle Chicane. Senna too had a moment when he ran wide at the hairpin, forcing him to stop briefly, but rejoined without drama.
Elsewhere on the timesheets, early hard-tyre leader Robert Kubica slipped to sixth in the end with a time of 1m15.192s, followed by McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton (1m15.249s), Force India’s Adrian Sutil (1m15.460s) and McLaren’s Jenson Button (1m15.619s). Red Bull’s Mark Webber (1m15.620s) rounded out the top ten. Underlining the highly competitive nature of this year’s grid, Vitaly Petrov’s time of 1m15.746s was only good enough for 11th, despite being just eight tenths off the leading pace.
Sébastien Buemi (1m16.276s), Nico Hülkenberg (1m16.348s), Rubens Barrichello (1m16.522s), Vitantonio Liuzzi (1m16.528s), Pedro de la Rosa (1m16.599s) and Kamui Kobayashi (1m16.818s) were all within five and a half tenths of each other, while Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari was the slowest of the established runners on a 1m17.023s, as the Spaniard continued to get to grips with the Principality’s streets.
Of the newcomers, Lotus regained the lead in the battle at the back from Virgin, with Heikki Kovlainen posting a time of 1m18.184s for 19th place. Lucas Di Grassi (1m18.478s) was three tenths behind, but two tenths ahead of the second Lotus of Jarno Trulli (1m18.667s) who was sidelined for much of the session with engine trouble. Timo Glock (1m18.721s), Karun Chandhok (1m20.313s) and Bruno Senna (1m22.148s) rounded out the timesheets, with Senna having completed just 11 laps after mechanical problems with his HRT.
Here are the times from both practice sessions;
|6||3||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||1:16.589||0.662||21|
|9||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:16.805||0.878||23|
|11||4||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||1:17.149||1.222||15|
|13||15||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India-Mercedes||1:17.704||1.777||27|
|17||22||Pedro de la Rosa||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||1:18.434||2.507||38|
|18||23||Kamui Kobayashi||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||1:18.547||2.620||32|
|22||25||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin-Cosworth||1:20.566||4.639||18|
|2||4||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||1:15.013||0.109||40|
|5||3||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||1:15.143||0.239||38|
|8||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:15.460||0.556||42|
|15||15||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India-Mercedes||1:16.528||1.624||42|
|16||22||Pedro de la Rosa||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||1:16.599||1.695||36|
|17||23||Kamui Kobayashi||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||1:16.818||1.914||46|
|20||25||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin-Cosworth||1:18.478||3.574||38|