2011 Monaco Grand Prix (Rd 6, Free Practice 1, May 26th)

Monte Carlo. © Creative Commons / Will Pittenger

Making an early statement on the streets of Monaco yesterday was Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.

In a twenty-five lap session, the Red Bull pilot registered a best of 1:16.619, taking the top spot away from Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso in the final moments of the session.

For a time, it was a session that saw both Felipe Massa (also Ferrari) and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton also front the pack, before being shuffled down the order.

It wasn’t only Vettel and Alonso that nudged ahead of the pair – Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg sneaked in a time good enough for 3rd on the sheets, albeit half-a-second adrift of the quickest pace.  Massa and Hamilton eventually assumed 4th and 5th respectively, both around seven-tenths slower than Vettel.

However, not everything was going to plan at Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes. Jenson Button (McLaren) secured the 6th best time, before spending the latter stages of practice soothing a malfunctioning KERS unit, while Red Bull’s Mark Webber did not set a time after his gearbox stopped functioning after three installation laps.
Michael Schumacher (10th, Mercedes) ended the morning in St Devote’s welcoming Armco barrier. The German veteran was not the only driver to have an off – both Sergio Perez (Sauber) and Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus) had harmless slides off the course; each recovering with little fanfare.
The same could not be said of Vitantonio Liuzzi. The Hispania racer locked his rear brakes on the exit of the tunnel, pitching the Italian hard into the barrier at the Nouvelle chicane.

There were other drama’s, not created by Formula 1’s complex machinery. “Weeper’s” (water seeping through the top layer of ground) crept across the track at the secondary start / finish lights, as an underground leakage peered out onto the surface of the road.
A swift red flag emerged, as circuit managers examined the scene, in an effort to find its source.

Monaco’s tightness and unique circuit concept means the track requires individual attention in order to attack its slender confines and high downforce requirements.
The weekend also calls for no DRS to be used in the tunnel at any stage, due to safety concerns.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault          1m16.619s          25
 2.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                   1m16.732s  + 0.113	24
 3.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                  1m17.139s  + 0.520	20
 4.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                   1m17.316s  + 0.697	24
 5.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes          1m17.350s  + 0.731	23
 6.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes          1m17.534s  + 0.915	24
 7.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth         1m18.527s  + 1.908	30
 8.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes      1m18.578s  + 1.959	24
 9.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault                   1m18.733s  + 2.114	16
10.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes                  1m18.805s  + 2.186	14
11.  Nick Heidfeld         Renault                   1m18.928s  + 2.309	19
12.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari        1m19.234s  + 2.615	24
13.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth         1m19.395s  + 2.776	24
14.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari        1m19.463s  + 2.844	25
15.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari            1m19.768s  + 3.149	25
16.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari            1m19.792s  + 3.173	26
17.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault             1m20.083s  + 3.464	23
18.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault             1m21.116s  + 4.497	27
19.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes      1m21.548s  + 4.929	32
20.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth           1m21.758s  + 5.139	31
21.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth           1m21.815s  + 5.196	17
22.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth              1m22.840s  + 6.221	13
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth              1m23.885s  + 7.266	37
24.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault          No time             3

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