Vettel and Hamilton quickest, despite Mercedes hitting setup troubles

Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton were the two quickest in todays Practice sessions, however Mercedes admitted that they were struggling with car setup throughout most of the day.

Hamilton and team mate Valterri Bottas were eighth and tenth quickest after the second practice session, more than a second off the pace set by Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo. The team put it down to going in a different setup route, which has favoured them less on the Ultra Soft tyre it seems.

This was despite Hamilton being the first to dip into the 1m13s, beating Ricciardo’s pole time from last year in the morning practice session. The Red Bull driver’s team mate Max Verstappen missed much of the morning session after damaging his floor on the kerbs exiting the Lowes hairpin, although he soon got back up to speed in the afternoon when he was chasing the quickest lap set by Daniil Kvyat.

The track started to get quicker as the laps got posted, with Vettel going quickest 30 minutes into the session ahead of Ricciardo and Raikkonen. Both Toro Rosso drivers also rounded out the top ten on the Ultra Soft runs, with Kvyat ahead of Carlos Sainz while Sergio Perez went quicker than both Mercedes drivers.

Hamilton complained about traffic on his run, getting caught out by Kevin Magnussen who split both Hamilton and Bottas to round out the top ten.

While others were looking to set quicker laps before their long runs, they were cut short because of a crash involving Lance Stroll. The 18 year-old who is racing around Monaco for the first time this weekend prompted a red flag when he hit the barrier at Casino Square and caused significant damage to the front end of his Williams. That would put him out of the rest of the session, finishing 16th overall.

Stroll actually finished ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, who didn’t seem to bounce back from the electrical issues he encountered in the morning session which stopped him from running. When he eventually got back out he completed 41 laps, although team mate Jolyon Palmer caused yet more headache for Renault when his car stopped with an engine-related issue 20 minutes into the session.

Fresh from his semi-retirement, Jenson Button – who replaces Fernando Alonso this weekend because he’s doing the Indy 500 –  managed to complete both practice sessions. He finished the morning session 14th quickest, then went slightly faster to go 12th fastest and 1.2 seconds off the pace in the afternoon.

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