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Thursday analysis - McLaren on the money in Monaco 22 May 2008

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 22 May 2008 Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams FW30.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 22 May 2008 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 22 May 2008 Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 22 May 2008 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28 with his rear wing missing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 22 May 2008

The opening day of practice for the Monaco Grand Prix saw an impressive performance from McLaren and Lewis Hamilton, the British star all too aware that a victory in Monte Carlo this weekend is vital if he is to keep his championship challenge on track. And it was another former GP2 champion, Nico Rosberg, who proved that you can always expect the unexpected in the Principality, as he lifted Williams clear of both Ferraris in the timesheets…

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 16.216s, P2/1m 15.140s, P1
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 16.248s, P3/1m 15.881s, P5

Hamilton said he was quite happy with the progress he and McLaren made on set-up and tyre evaluation, and how much he loves driving every lap here. He spent the morning on the same set of tyres to set second fastest time, then pushed hard for the quickest lap in the afternoon. Kovalainen was well up in the morning and reported a fair bit more to come after the afternoon as he wasn’t happy with the best lap he put together.

Williams
Nico Rosberg, 1m 16.653s, P5/1m 15.533s, P2
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 18.274s, P15/1m 16.372s, P9

Rosberg came to a track he loves well fired up, and was fifth in the morning and second in the afternoon. He felt Williams had a good baseline set-up and was able to push hard as he felt comfortable straight away. He also believes there is more to come. Nakajima struggled initially but got it together in the afternoon to move into the top 10.

Ferrari
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 15.948s, P1/1m 15.572s, P3
Felipe Massa, 1m 16.292s, P4/1m 15.869s, P4

Raikkonen, who did two tests with the Monaco set-up last week at Paul Ricard, said it was a normal Friday for him, which came as a relief after his problems in Turkey. He missed his good lap on supersoft tyres, ironically after Massa had dislodged a track marker in the Swimming Pool complex, and struggled on new rubber. Massa, who did only one test for Canada at Paul Ricard, also failed to do a time on the supersofts and admitted that McLaren were very strong.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, 1m 16.834s, P6/1m 16.296s, P6
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 18.263s, P14/ 1m 16.426s, P11

A mixed day for BMW Sauber, with Kubica sixth in both sessions but Heidfeld troubled by a loss of power in the morning. The Pole was reasonable happy, but the German rued the loss of running time and data. He was encouraged, however, by the driveability of his F1.08.

Renault
Fernando Alonso, 1m 17.498s, P7/1m 16.310s, P7
Nelson Piquet, 1m 18.955s, P18/1m 17.246s, P15

Not a great day for Renault, even though Alonso was seventh in both sessions. In the afternoon he slid sideways at Ste Devote and wiped off his rear wing, shortly after Piquet had done something similar. The Spaniard was happy with the way his R28 reacted to changes, but the Brazilian was clearly struggling again as he learned the track in an F1 car and experimented with set-ups.

Honda
Jenson Button, 1m 18.153s, P12/1m 16.351s, P8
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 17.511s, P8/1m 16.418s, P10

With Barrichello eighth in the morning and Button eighth in the afternoon, Honda had a fairly promising day. Both drivers were cautiously happy with what they achieved during the two sessions.

Toyota
Timo Glock, 1m 17.942s, P11/1m 16.688s, P12
Jarno Trulli, 1m 18.360s, P16/1m 17.379s, P17

Glock loved driving Monaco in an F1 car for the first time, and while he said he was happy with the car he admitted that he needs more experience here to get the best from it. Trulli, the winner here in 2004, clobbered the wall at Portier in the morning and broke the rear suspension, and had a problem with the undertray in the afternoon which lost him more track time.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 17.798s, P9/1m 17.094s, P13
David Coulthard, No time/1m 17.131s, P14

Webber did all his scheduled work, but was dissatisfied with the outcome as the RB4 clearly does not yet suit the track. Coulthard’s day got off to a bad start when the throttle actuator failed on his out lap in the morning. He thought he had recovered ground reasonably well in the afternoon, however.

Force India
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 17.835s, P10/1m 17.251s, P16
Adrian Sutil, 1m 18.360s, P17/1m 18.176s, P19

Fisichella was happy with the balance of his VJM01 in the build-up to his 200th Grand Prix appearance, but lost his afternoon run on new tyres to an undisclosed mechanical problem. Sutil fought understeer and tyre graining all day, and eventually took off his front wing in a slow-speed shunt at Rascasse in the afternoon.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 18.245s, P13/1m 17.581s, P18
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 19.176s, P19/1m 18.225s, P20

A tough day for Toro Rosso, as their drivers worked on setting up their new STR3s. Bourdais always ran with plenty of fuel and believed they were not as far behind as appearances suggested. Vettel said he was fighting his car all day as he worked on set-up.