Published: Sun, May 28, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Sebastian Vettel quickest, Lewis Hamilton eighth in Monaco


Hamilton and Vettel have won two races each this season, and the German has a six point cushion in the cumulative ranking on the triple world champion after five races. Despite being in the better vehicle, the Finnish driver was 10th fastest in practice on Thursday, 0.025 seconds slower than Hamilton.

Hamilton's team-mate acknowledged that Mercedes had not made the right adjustments, the first time the new wider, faster cars with more durable Pirelli rubber have raced here.

Jenson Button, filling in for Indy500-bound Fernando Alonso in the McLaren, was 14th in his one-off return from retirement.

The opening day of practice for the Monaco Grand Prix highlighted just how fine the margins are between success and failure in the narrow streets of the principality.

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"Following several front-to-rear incidents over the past months in various single-seater categories, the FIA would like all F1 teams to ensure that their rear jacking point designs can not act aggressively during such an incident", he wrote.

Hamilton, meanwhile, can equal his late, great idol Ayrton Senna's career tally of 65 pole positions on the 30th anniversary of the Brazilian's first Monaco win. "It was a good start into the weekend - now let's let that sink in and see that we keep the tension until Sunday".

"Just in the second practice it was a bit messy with the going out on the second set, and then the red flag [for Lance Stroll's crash] came out on my lap".

But Ferrari was soon back in formation at the front, Vettel finally beating Thursday's best lap with a 1m12.558s effort a few seconds after Raikkonen had overtaken him and Verstappen.

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"I'm not sure why the tyres weren't working but the difference between the two sessions was night and day", said Hamilton.

"We have good downforce here, the rear of the vehicle feels like it is working the best it has so far this year", Ricciardo said.

"I have no idea whether we will be on the pace for qualifying", Hamilton, 32, said.

Their lack of pace on the qualifying simulation runs prompted them to do an extra performance run on the fastest ultra-soft tyres to try to learn more about the set-up ahead of the crucial qualifying session on Saturday, with Friday being a rest day in Monaco. "We did some changes and it always got better, so that's the main thing".

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Both Mercedes and McLaren are expected to follow suit later in the week when their stickers arrive in Monaco, while a one-minute silence will be observed by the sport in the moments before Sunday's race.

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