Nico Rosberg fulfilled predictions that Mercedes would be a force around the streets of the Monte Carlo principality, by setting the fastest time in the opening session of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend.
Apart from ending up fastest with his time of 1:16.95 around the twists and turns of the Armco lined temporary race track, he was also the busiest of the drivers as he notched up 31 laps in the ninety minutes under crisp blue skies over the Cote D’Azur.
Marginally down on the Silver Arrows, second best, was the red Ferrari of Fernando Alonso just 0.087 seconds shy of Rosberg’s top time. With Felipe Massa fourth quickest in the other Ferrari suggesting that the Spanish GP winning F138 is pretty handy around Monaco too.
In third and splitting Maranello’s finest on the timing screens, was Romain Grosjean in the Lotus. The Frenchman, along with three other fellow countrymen on the grid, enjoying what is as close to a home race as they will have this season.
Lewis Hamilton was fifth fastest and 0.274 seconds off his teammate at the top of timing sheets.
Biggest surprise of all was Pastor Maldonado, a known Monaco specialist, who powered around to end the morning sixth best in the Williams.
Last year’s winner Mark Webber was seventh , with Sebastian Vettel 10th. Red Bull clearly keeping their powder dry early on, as is becoming a trend in their race weekend strategy.
In the top ten were both McLaren drivers, Jenson Button and Sergio Perez in eighth and ninth respectively.
Notably out of the top ten was Kimi Raikkonen who appeared to struggle to get any consistency from the Lotus, ending the session 11th and over a second down on teammate Grosjean.
The Force India duo Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil were 12th and 13th.
Monaco Grand Prix, Free Practice 1 – Thursday, 23 May 2013