VETTEL UPS THE PACE IN MONACO AS MERCEDES LOSE GROUND
After ceding top spot in the opening practice session in Monaco to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by just under two tenths of a second, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel went quickest in the second session, outpacing his main title rival by over a second as Mercedes appeared to lose their way in afternoon.
Vettel’s time of 1:12.720, set on ultrasoft tyres midway through the 90-minute session is the fastest ever lap of the Circuit de Monaco and the four-time champion finished the session 0.487 seconds clear of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo. Third place went to Kimi Räikkönen in the second Ferrari, with the Finn almost six tenths behind his team-mate.
In the morning session, which had largely clung to championship form, Hamilton had egded Vettel by 0.196s, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas fourth behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, but the afternoon Mercedes found the going tougher and Hamilton slumped to eighth place by the time the flag was shown, 1.153s adrift of Vettel. Bottas finished in place 10th, a hundredth of a second behind the Haas of Kevin Magnussen.
With the Mercedes drivers not troubling the top five place, fourth place behind Raikkonen went to Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat. The Russian had been sixth in the morning on supersoft tyres and continued his Italian outfit’s positive start to the weekend when he moved to ultrasofts in session two. He logged a best lap of 1:13.331 to finish six tenths behind Vettel and just under 0.070s ahead of fifth-placed team-mate Carlos Sainz. Max Verstappen was sixth in the second Red Bull, ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez.
It was a slightly less productive session for Perez’s team-mate, Esteban Ocon. The Frenchman had an early brush with the barriers on the run to Portier. He still managed to complete 47 laps but finished in 15th place.
There was more debilitating trouble for Canada’s Lance Stroll, however. The rookie lost the rear end of his Williams on the way up to Casino Square and hit the barriers hard, breaking the front right suspension. His mishap brought out the red flags and ended his involvement in the session.
It was also a difficult session for Renault. After failing to set a time in the morning due to an ERS issues, Nico Hulkenberg ended the session 17th quickest, more than two seconds off the pace. Team-mate Jolyon Palmer completed only eight laps in the afternoon after he pulled over at Portier with smoke pouring from the back of his car.
After finishing 14th in the morning, returning McLaren driver Jenson Button climbed to P12 in the second session, posting a best time of 1:13.981, which put him just over five hundredths of a second behind 11th-placed team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne.
2017 Monaco Grand Prix – Free Practice 2
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:12.720s - 38
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:13.207s 0.487s 35
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:13.283s 0.563s 46
4 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:13.331s 0.611s 41
5 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:13.400s 0.680s 43
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:13.486s 0.766s 36
7 Sergio Perez Force India 1:13.799s 1.079s 45
8 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:13.873s 1.153s 31
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:13.890s 1.170s 46
10 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:13.902s 1.182s 39
11 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:13.946s 1.226s 42
12 Jenson Button McLaren 1:13.981s 1.261s 37
13 Felipe Massa Williams 1:14.003s 1.283s 46
14 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:14.022s 1.302s 44
15 Esteban Ocon Force India 1:14.093s 1.373s 47
16 Lance Stroll Williams 1:14.474s 1.754s 27
17 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:14.870s 2.150s 41
18 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:15.616s 2.896s 8
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:15.691s 2.971s 32
20 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 1:15.695s 2.975s 37
Lewis Hamilton set the quickest time of opening practice in Monaco, beating Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by almost two tenths of a second. The Mercedes driver also eclipsed last year’s pole position time by a similar margin and beat his own lap record in the principality by 4.5s.
Hamilton recorded a time of 1:13.425 on Pirelli's ultrasoft tyres to finish 0.196 seconds clear of Vettel, with Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen third, 0.15s adrift of the Drivers’ Championship-leading German.
The opening 90-minute session saw a number of drivers quickly try out the weekend’s softest available compound, the Pirelli ultrasoft, and Vettel set the early pace. However, the Ferrari man, who has a six-point title lead over Hamilton going into this weekend, was edged out of top spot when Mercedes swapped from supersoft tyre work to ultrasofts soon after the hour mark had passed.
Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas then traded fastest times before Hamilton set his best time of the session.
After slipping back as Red Bull, which was debuting a new T-wing, found pace and Daniel Ricciardo moved up the order but Vettel then jumped back to P2 with good lap that saw him finish 0.196 behind Hamilton.
Verstappen, meanwhile, stole into third place late in the session after he had spent a long time in the Red Bull garage after the team had detected a possible right rear puncture. Returning to the action late on Verstappen quickly found a groove and after initially slotting in behind tea-mate Ricciardo he chipped away at his lap time to eventually take third place with just over 10 minutes left in the session.
The Dutchman also set the quickest first sector of the session, but lost time in the following two to miss out on an even closer challenge to the top two drivers.
With Bottas fourth and Ricciardo fifth, sixth place in the session went to Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat, the Russian being the quickest man on supersoft tyres with the lap of 1:14.111, just under seven tenths of a second off Hamilton’s pace.
Kimi Räikkönen was seventh in the second Ferrari, though the Finn was more than half a second slower than Vettel over the 3.337km circuit. Force India’s Sergio Perez was eighth, ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr, who like Toro Rosso team-mate Kvyat was on the super-softs. Perez’s team-mate Esteban Ocon was 10th quickest.
Elsewhere, Jenson Button was 14th on his return to McLaren as stand-in for Fernando Alonso who is this weekend competing in the Indianapolis 500. Despite only having driven McLaren’s car on the team’s simulator, Button was soon finding a comfort zone with the car and completed 35 laps for a best time of 1:14.954, just 0.141 behind team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne.
There was trouble though for Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and for Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson. Hulkenberg failed to complete a flying lap after a problem was discovered with his car’s energy store, while a geabox issue sidelined Ericcson.
2017 Monaco Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:13.425s - 40
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:13.621s 0.196s 34
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:13.771s 0.346s 32
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:13.791s 0.366s 40
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:13.854s 0.429s 45
6 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:14.111s 0.686s 42
7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:14.164s 0.739s 37
8 Sergio Perez Force India 1:14.201s 0.776s 32
9 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:14.333s 0.908s 39
10 Esteban Ocon Force India 1:14.425s 1.000s 39
11 Felipe Massa Williams 1:14.617s 1.192s 37
12 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:14.813s 1.388s 38
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:14.870s 1.445s 34
14 Jenson Button McLaren 1:14.954s 1.529s 35
15 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:15.321s 1.896s 33
16 Lance Stroll Williams 1:15.595s 2.170s 44
17 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:15.949s 2.524s 42
18 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 1:16.258s 2.833s 33
19 Nico Hulkenberg Renault - - 3
20 Marcus Ericsson Sauber - - 3