Monaco Practice 1: Brimming with confidence, Alonso strikes first

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012. Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday 24 May 2012.

Fernando Alonso ended FP1 fastest of all in the Ferrari F2012

May 24 (GP247) At the very top of his game, Fernando Alonso was brimming with confidence as he waltzed the Ferrari F2012 around the streets of Monte Carlo to claim top spot on the timing sheets after the first free practice session of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend.

Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20. Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday 24 May 2012.With about 15 minutes left in the session the Spaniard – sporting a flashy gold and white special edition Monaco helmet – unleashed a flurry of fast laps, in a display of supreme control and confidence around the unforgiving, Armco lined street circuit and went top of the timing screens, and  soon thereafter went even faster with a best lap of all; 1 minute 16.265 seconds. This was well faster than last year’s best in the same session, and 0.365 seconds up on his closest rival in the morning session.

The reds will be encouraged by the fact that beleaguered Felipe Massa was able to run within half a second (or so) of his teammate’s best on his way to the sixth fastest time.

Romain Grosjean had never driven an F1 around the Monte Carlo streets, but this did not faze the Frenchman as he set the pace from early on, only to be dispatched from top spot by Alonso. nevertheless the Lotus E20 looked pretty handy and Grosjean factored himself in as one to watch for the race.

A former winner in GP2 at Monaco, Grosjean was in his element on ‘home’ turf, “I like Monaco, it’s good fun. The car is going well at the moment so let’s see what we can do later on. It’s important to have a car that you are confident with and work every single detail because it makes such a big difference.”

Sergio Perez Monaco FP1 third fastest in the Sauber C31It was quite the opposite for teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who did an installation lap and that was that. The Iceman’s E20 was subsequently stripped as the steering issue, which haunted them in the early races, appears to have struck again. As the team toiled, Raikkonen twiddled his thumbs, visibly aggravated by missing out on precious track time on the most challenging circuit on the calendar. Interestingly Raikkonen was using a James Hunt replica helmet.

Also showing hot pace, and no apparent ill effects of his qualifying crash at the same venue last year, was Sergio Perez in the Sauber C31. His best was 0.446 off the top time and a quarter second up on teammate Kamui Kobayashi who ended the session seventh fastest. The pair looking strong early on.

Yet to win this season and top candidate to make it six from six is Lewis Hamilton, who ended the morning fourth fastest in the McLaren MP4-27 and best of the Mercedes powered brigade, with teammate Jenson Button eighth on the timing screens almost half a second down Hamilton’s best.

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus E20 with James Hunt helmet. Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday 24 May 2012.A mere 0.013 seconds down on Hamilton was Spanish GP winner Pastor Maldonado who has an impressive Monaco CV in the junior categories, despite a crash here in 2005. He ended the 90 minutes fifth fastest as the Williams again showed impressive pace. Bruno Senna, two seconds down on his teammate, was 17th on the timing sheets.

Somewhat subdued in the early session was reigning world champion and last year’s winner Sebastian Vettel who was ninth fastest in the Red Bull RB8. Teammate Mark Webber was 13th. The pair will be aiming for a hat-trick of Monaco wins on Sunday, which has not happened since Ayrton Senna won five in a row for McLaren a decade ago.

Up next – ninth and tenth respectively – were the Mercedes AMG duo with Nico Rosberg fractionally faster than five times Monaco winner Michael Schumacher.

A special mention of Narain Karthikeyan who ended the session twentieth, out pacing both the Marussia drivers and his own vastly experienced teammate Pedro de la Rosa.

There was some drama at the very end of the session when the Renault engine in Heikki Kovalainen’s Caterham blew up in spectacular fashion entering the tunnel. Session over as a thick pall of smoke engulfed the track.

Still early days at Monaco, but it is always vital to get the weekend off to a good start as everything always seems very rushed at the Principality. Thus Ferrari will be pleased with the pace of their car, while the likes of Lotus, Sauber, Williams and McLaren all look potent. Great weekend ahead folks…

Subbed by AJN.

Monaco Free Practice 1 – Friday, 24 May 2012

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:16.265 22
2 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:16.630 0.365 17
3 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:16.711 0.446 19
4 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:16.747 0.482 12
5 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:16.760 0.495 20
6 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:16.843 0.578 19
7 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:17.038 0.773 21
8 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:17.190 0.925 13
9 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:17.222 0.957 14
10 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:17.261 0.996 18
11 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:17.413 1.148 14
12 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:17.631 1.366 18
13 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:18.106 1.841 14
14 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:18.209 1.944 25
15 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:18.252 1.987 28
16 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:18.302 2.037 16
17 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:18.617 2.352 20
18 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:19.039 2.774 20
19 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:19.341 3.076 16
20 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:20.838 4.573 26
21 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:20.895 4.630 18
22 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:21.638 5.373 9
23 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:22.423 6.158 15
24 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault No time 1
  • Selvam

    Monaco Free Practice 1 – Friday, 24 May 2012????
    Today is thursday r friday?… Does F1 have a free practice on thursdays?

  • kihxanpoi

    @Selvam

    in Monaco the first day of free practice is on thursday
    Second day of free practice is Saturday as well as Qualifying
    Sunday for the race

    as far as i know, (the f1 seasons i watched) it has been a free FRIDAY in every Monaco GP

    note: correct me if i’m wrong

  • Selvam

    @kihxanpoi…
    Thanks for your information… happy i learnt a new thing abt F1 today…

  • Psych4191

    FP1 and FP2 are always held on Thursday for the Monaco GP.

  • hillside

    from what i know friday is reserve for team functions and commitments media, sponsors etc…

  • Ankit

    It’s not just that. Monaco is a circuit that is also used by the general public on normal days and because they do not want the circuit to be occupied 3 days continuously, they let the public use the circuit one day in between, i.e on Friday.

    And on another note, GO ALONSO. Things looking really good for him. I don’t know how he manages to get so much out of such a bad car!

  • Andy – London

    I’ve been watching F1 for 33 years and as far back as I can remember (not that practice has been televised for that many years) it has always been on a Thursday. I used to think that it was some sort of “royal” day or bank holiday but it’s purely so the roads are not shut for 3 consecutive days to the residents.

    I was at Monaco in 2010 and about 6pm on both Saturday and Sunday the roads re-open to local traffic anyway. I don’t know what time they close on the Sunday morning, as there are plenty of support races going on before the F1 race.

    I loved the weekend but even more so the Monday, when at least half of the yachts and 90% of the tourists had gone. The grandstands were being taken down and my friend and I walked the circuit freely all afternoon. It really was a surreal feeling to stand in the middle of the Lowes Hairpin and I must have spent 10 minutes leaning over the tyre wall that Senna hit whilst leading. A magical afternoon and one that I’ll never forget.

    I stayed in Nice in simple accommodation and it’s best to fly out on the Thursday because Friday flights are obviously overpriced. The same applies to coming back on Tuesday rather than Monday. My flights were £150 return, my hotel £150 (£300 for 2 people, 5 nights). Race tickets £170 quali and £330 race. £800 for Monaco not including food was a trip of a lifetime!! (and burgers on race day are about 4 euros, not 400!!)

  • Stewy33

    @ Andy – London

    The stay in Nice France is a great tip, friends of mine have given me the same advice. Plus it is a nice drive once you hit the D6098 on the coast line heading towards Monaco.

  • fools

    Alonso will be a huge factor this weekend. Few new updates should be helping alot for the car. The aero top speed has worked well. Being this is a low top speed circuit the Ferrari has done well in cornering.

    Good pit strategy will bring Alonso to 1st. Hope Charles Pic doesnt get in the way again.