Lewis Hamilton led the cars in Practice for the Monaco Grand Prix today, in what were gloomy conditions around the principality.
The two-time world champion set the early pace from teammate Nico Rosberg in the first of the two practice sessions, as the pair ventured out on what was a sodden race track on Intermediate tyres. An early brush to the barriers for Rosberg on his installation lap got us all wincing, as did Vettel who just held onto his SF-15T as he put full opposite lock on through casino square.
Plenty of other drivers also ran wide at Sante Devote including Fernando Alonso and Daniel Riccardo, likely due to the slippery surface and now asphalt that was laid down there in the months leading up to the race weekend.
As the track conditions evolved we saw Rosberg fall down the order, when the drivers switched to the Soft tyre. He later put in a lap time which was only good enough for third fastest, with the two Ferrari’s later splitting the pair on their next timed runs.
Vettel’s lap in particular looked pretty lairy, only managing a best lap time of 1:19.134. Elsewhere a car that wasn’t making too much of a show was Jenson Button’s MP4-30, which was up on the dollies in the garage as the mechanics worked on yet another issue.
After a brief intermission we saw more cars take to the track for late improvements, with the star of the show being Max Vestappen who managed a 1:18.899 – a tenth and a half slower than Hamilton in what was his first 90 minute experience of the circuit. Riccardo also improved to go third fastest, as did Sainz, Maldonado, and Kvyat to go fifth, sixth, and seventh fastest.
In the afternoon session we saw Hamilton top the timesheet again, this time from Rosberg by seven tenths of a second and Vettel by a further four tenths.
But whilst we saw some action on the drying track in Practice One, we were denied any further running just fourteen minutes into Practice Two after Roberto Merhi lost control of his Manor coming out of the tunnel on that infamous bump thats claimed many drivers sessions.
Whilst the damage to his car was minimal – only knocking off his front wing – the session was Red Flagged, and when it came back underway we got some rain showers across the circuit, which put the teams out of action for the next 40 minutes of the session.
Lotus did allow Pastor Maldonado to venture out on a exploratory lap in his Lotus on a set of Super Soft tyres, however he was called back in midway through the lap after it was clear the conditions were too wet for running on that tyre.
Once we reached the final 10 minutes of the session we finally got the familiar engine notes make noise around the circuit, as cars took to the track for some late runs. The intermediate tyre was the weapon of choice, however it meant that lap times were 18 seconds slower than what they were in the dry part of the session, which meant Hamilton’s time of 1:17.192 would remain unbeatable.