Venezuelan on top in free practice
Johnny Cecotto has set the pace in this morning's free practice session in Monaco, stealing the top spot as the chequered flag dropped to lead home Series leader Davide Valsecchi and Fabio Leimer as the teams get ready for this afternoon's qualifying session in the fabled principality.
The Venezuelan was at the sharp end of the time sheets for much of the session, but his best lap right at the close of play at 1:22.075 put the cat among the pigeons by running 0.6 ahead of his rivals, who had been split by less than a tenth before Cecotto's flyer.
The session opened under glorious blue skies, and the action on track was soon heating up as Josef Kral, Luiz Razia, Leimer, Max Chilton, Giedo van der Garde and Cecotto swapped the top spot of the timesheets between them in the opening minutes. Esteban Gutierrez was unable to take the fight to his rivals, however, after losing the rear and finding the wall just out of St Devote, bringing his session to an early close.
With 2 sets of each tyre, and a shortened qualifying session for everyone when the grid will be split into 2 groups, many of the drivers changed tyres to look for an advantage, and the second half of the session saw more action as they explored the limits of the circuit. Cecotto was on a fast lap until he found Simon Trummer at the pool, tapping the Swiss driver but going faster next time round, while van der Garde went quicker still but spun at Rascasse to bring out the yellows once again.
With 3 minutes remaining Leimer put himself on top with a well judged lap, and when Kral spun off the kerbs at the exit to the swimming pool it looked as though the action was over, but as the flag dropped Valsecchi and then Cecotto sliced into their rivals' times to give themselves a last gasp advantage. Behind the top 3 van der Garde, Jolyon Palmer, Razia, Stefano Coletti, Chilton, Nathanaël Berthon and Kral will all fancy a shot at pole in just a few hours time.
Monaco – Free Practice
Driver Team Laptime Laps1. Johnny Cecotto Barwa Addax Team 1:22.075 162. Davide Valsecchi DAMS 1:22.745 183. Fabio Leimer Racing Engineering 1:22.750 144. Giedo van der Garde Caterham Racing 1:22.757 125. Jolyon Palmer iSport International 1:22.842 176. Luiz Razia Arden International 1:23.104 177. Stefano Coletti Scuderia Coloni 1:23.343 158. Max Chilton Carlin 1:23.429 159. Nathanaël Berthon Racing Engineering 1:23.445 1810. Josef Kral Barwa Addax Team 1:23.463 1411. Tom Dillmann Rapax 1:23.626 1612. Marcus Ericsson iSport International 1:24.009 1413. James Calado Lotus GP 1:24.062 2114. Nigel Melker Ocean Racing Technology 1:24.125 2015. Felipe Nasr DAMS 1:24.154 1916. Fabio Onidi Scuderia Coloni 1:24.160 1817. Stéphane Richelmi Trident Racing 1:24.268 1618. Julian Leal Trident Racing 1:24.315 1719 Rodolfo Gonzalez Caterham Racing 1:24.400 1720. Simon Trummer Arden International 1:24.629 2021. Victor Guerin Ocean Racing Technology 1:24.868 1822. Rio Haryanto Carlin 1:25.748 1923. Fabrizio Crestani Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:25.827 2024. Ricardo Teixeira Rapax 1:26.680 1925. Giancarlo Serenelli Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:29.407 726. Esteban Gutiérrez Lotus GP 1:36.944 3