Monaco Practice 2: Rosberg sizzles as Mercedes own day one

Nico Rosberg was too good on day one in Monte Carlo

Nico Rosberg was too good on day one in Monte Carlo

Nico Rosberg gave Mercedes a dream start to their Monaco Grand Prix weekend with the fastest time in both practice sessions for the glamour race on Thursday.

To further fuel widespread expectations of a fourth successive pole position for the Silver Arrows, team mate and 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton lapped second fastest in the afternoon.

Rosberg, who has been at home on the twisty streets ever since he was a boy growing up in the principality, clocked a best time of one minute 16.195 seconds before lunch and then 1:14.759 in the second session.

That later lap, set early in the session, compared to last year’s fastest time in qualifying by Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher of 1:14.301.

Hamilton was 0.318 off Rosberg’s pace, with drivers using Pirelli’s softest tyre compounds.

Lewis Hamilton was second fastest on the first day

Lewis Hamilton was second fastest on the first day

While Rosberg will be chasing his third successive pole position in Saturday’s qualifying, hat-trick chasing Spaniard Fernando Alonso was second and third fastest respectively for Ferrari.

Alonso, winner of his home race in Spain this month, is hoping to become Ferrari’s first Monaco winner since 2001 and the first Formula One driver to triumph in the glamour race with three separate teams.

Team mate Felipe Massa was fourth on a gloriously sunny afternoon with the Mediterranean serving as a sparkling backdrop to the action.

Frenchman Romain Grosjean was third fastest for Lotus in the morning, as he limbered up for his closest thing to a home race in the continuing absence of a French Grand Prix, but then crashed into the barriers at Sainte Devote after lunch.

On a historic course that threads its way up the hill and into Casino square before dipping and winding down to the darkness of the tunnel and blasting past the moored yachts on the quayside, Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado provided the morning’s surprise.

Fernando Alonso best of the rest

Fernando Alonso best of the rest

The Williams driver was sixth fastest, although he faded back in the afternoon, on one of the most treacherous and unforgiving circuits on the calendar.

Williams have not scored a point yet this season, a run of six races in a row including last year’s finale, and are in danger of chalking up their worst ever start to a championship this weekend.

Maldonado has form in Monaco, however, winning junior series races there on his way to Formula One and loving the challenge of keeping out of the barriers.

Red Bull‘s triple world champion Sebastian Vettel, who has a four-point lead in the standings over Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen, was only 10th and ninth quickest with Australian team mate Mark Webber – last year’s winner – seventh and fifth.

Mark Webber

Last year’s winner Mark Webber was fifth fastest

McLaren‘s Jenson Button was eighth in both sessions, with Mexican team mate Sergio Perez ninth and 12th, ahead of what could be another difficult weekend for a team struggling to catch up after starting the year well off the pace. (Reuters)

Monaco Grand Prix, Free Practice 2 – Thursday, 23 May 2013 

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:14.759 46
2 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:15.077 0.318 51
3 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:15.196 0.437 38
4 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:15.278 0.519 39
5 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:15.404 0.645 42
6 7 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:15.511 0.752 39
7 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:15.718 0.959 10
8 5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:15.959 1.200 40
9 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:16.014 1.255 33
10 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:16.046 1.287 43
11 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:16.349 1.590 44
12 6 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:16.434 1.675 41
13 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:16.823 2.064 43
14 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:16.857 2.098 41
15 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:16.935 2.176 45
16 19 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:17.145 2.386 38
17 18 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:17.184 2.425 43
18 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:17.264 2.505 47
19 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:17.892 3.133 41
20 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1:18.212 3.453 44
21 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:18.784 4.025 41
22 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:19.031 4.272 31
  • Steve

    I’m impressed that Rosberg seems quicker over a lap than Hamilton. Maybe Lewis isn’t quite as good as we all thought? Our-qualifying Jenson Button at McLaren didn’t prove much.

    But it does not really matter if a Mercedes wins this race, all that matters is the relative finishing positions of Vettel, Kimi, and Alonso. Each will be intent on finishing ahead of the other two.

  • Barney

    Or that Rosberg is much better than he is generally given credit for..?

  • Butterfly

    Let’s not forget that Rosberg has been driving that car for a couple of years now, whereas Lewis is at his 6th race.

    It takes time to adapt.