The first two practice sessions were definitely a game of two halves as the pundits say. The day began with Lewis Hamilton in dominant form but ended with Red Bull celebrating.
We go into the classic Monaco Grand Prix with Nico Rosberg 39 points ahead of Kimi Raikkonen with Lewis Hamilton a further three points behind. After the collision between the two Mercedes in Spain, the situation as far as Lewis Hamilton is concerned is exactly the same. He has to start making in-roads to the lead Rosberg has and certainly can’t afford for it to grow any larger.
He began practice in Monaco knowing that he’s only ever won here once and his team mate has won the last three races in a row. Hamilton was in top form though finishing 0.101 seconds than Rosberg with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel third and Daniel Ricciardo in his Red Bull fourth. Hamilton had the edge on Rosberg for most of this practice session and that bodes well for Sunday’s crucial race.
His first lap was a fantastic 1.472 seconds faster than the German could manage on his second lap, a bit more of that on Sunday could see him winning his first race of the season. It wasn’t all easy though for the pair with Hamilton making a couple of errors and Rosberg getting a puncture on his left rear tyre after running over and managing to dislodge a drain cover. That led to his front right tyre being punctured too but caused more problems for the car behind. That was Jenson Button who saw the front wing of his McLaren shattered. Just what he needs with talk of him being replaced at McLaren next year surfacing this week.
Daniel Ricciardo, who has yet to have a top three finish this season, is using a new, upgraded Renault engine this weekend. It’s supposed to have an extra 30bhp and cut 0.5 seconds off the lap-time but only 0.2 seconds here where power isn’t quite so important. Even so, Ricciardio managed to finish fastest in the second practice session 0.606 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton with Nico Rosberg 0.293 seconds behind the British driver. Max Verstappen in his Red Bull was fourth fastest as he bids for another great weekend.
It wasn’t such good news for Ferrari though. Raikkonen could only manage seventh. It was even worse for Sebastian Vettel who spun at Mirabeau corner, hitting the barrier and damaging the rear wing of his Ferrari. That left him 14th fastest but he got himself up to 9th only to slide into the barrier at Ste Devote but not causing much damage to his car.
McLaren had problems too with Button down in 10th and Alonso right behind him. That prediction that they might both be in the top ten this weekend isn’t looking right now.
I’ll be back tomorrow with a look back at qualifying and ahead to an important race. See you all then and in the meantime, enjoy watching your racing.