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Practice analysis - Monaco still predictably unpredictable 27 May 2011

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari 150 Italia. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6,  Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 26 May 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6,  Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 26 May 2011 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6,  Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 26 May 2011 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB7.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6,  Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 26 May 2011 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM04.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6,  Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 26 May 2011 Nick Heidfeld (GER) Lotus Renault GP.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6,  Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 26 May 2011 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C30. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6,  Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 26 May 2011 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW33.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6,  Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 26 May 2011 Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR6. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6,  Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 26 May 2011 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Team Lotus T128. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6,  Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 26 May 2011 Timo Glock (GER) Virgin Racing MVR-02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6,  Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 26 May 2011 The Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT) F111 of Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT) who crashed in the first practice session.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6,  Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 26 May 2011

Some had predicted using DRS around Monaco would prompt more accidents than normal. Others had feared Pirelli’s new super-soft tyre wouldn’t prove durable enough. Neither came to fruition on Thursday, as the F1 field got its first 2011 taste of the Monte Carlo streets. And on a circuit where the driver really can make a difference, predicting the pacesetters was equally difficult. Few would have put money on a top three bereft of a Red Bull, as Alonso, Hamilton and Rosberg led the way. We review day one in the Principality…

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 16.732s, P2/1m 15.123s, P1
Felipe Massa, 1m 17.316s, P4/1m 15.781s, P6

Alonso was a little cautious about other drivers’ fuel loads, but was clearly very happy with the feel his Ferrari gave him all day and the manner in which he could thus push it hard. Like many, he was pleasantly surprised to discover the durability of the super-soft Pirelli. Ferrari need to take risks here, and the 150° Italia has thus far been perfectly tuned to enable him to do just that. Massa was also in the hunt, and said that he was reasonably happy with his car despite some oversteer.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 17.350s, P5/1m 15.228s, P2
Jenson Button, 1m 17.534s, P6/1m 15.448s, P4

Hamilton was absolutely stoked after finishing the day second to Alonso, praising his MP4-26’s balance and poise, while Button said he was also satisfied and gratified by the performance of the super-soft tyres. As it is at Ferrari, the mood is optimistic in this camp.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 1m 17.139s, P3/1m 15.321s, P3
Michael Schumacher, 1m 18.805s, P10/1m 16.356s, P7

Rosberg said he was happy with the way his day went and the MGP W02 performed. Schumacher crashed in the morning after he’d made a set-up change, locked up under braking for Ste Devote, and then made the decision too late to go down the escape road. The damage was repaired in time for FP2.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 16.619s, P1/1m 15.667s, P5
Mark Webber, No time/1m 16.642s, P8

Vettel said he’d had a positive day, and that he was pleased with the super-soft Pirelli’s performance. He brushed a barrier after three laps, but said he hoped that was it for the weekend. Webber’s campaign got off to a terrible start with a gear selection problem that cost him the morning session. That put him behind in the afternoon, but he avoided the temptation to overdrive and make mistakes and gathered the information he needed to inform his crew’s choices for Saturday.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 18.578s, P8/1m 17.101s, P9
Paul di Resta, 1m 21.548s, P19/1m 19.053s, P20

Sutil was on top form and said he’d had a relatively uneventful day in which he gathered plenty of data but found the degradation of the super-soft tyre, unlike many others to be quite high. Di Resta had a troubled time. He was happy with the balance on his first F1 acquaintance with the track in the morning, but in the afternoon he lost drive exiting the tunnel, and thus lost an hour’s worth of running time and did not get to try the super-soft tyre.

Renault
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 18.928s, P11/1m 17.126s, P10
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 18.733s, P9/1m 17.337s, P11

Both drivers ran only the soft Pirelli in the morning, then tried the super soft in the afternoon. They reported understeer and sluggish directional change. They also complained about traffic. Petrov clobbered the chicane barriers under braking towards the end of FP2, damaging the right-hand suspension and front wing.

Sauber
Sergio Perez, 1m 19.792s, P16/1m 17.541s, P12
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 19.768s, P15/1m 17.706s, P16

Sauber got through a big work programme and went fast, so they were happy. Perez had no issues, but Kobayashi said his C30 was bouncing around so much that he couldn’t make a decent tyre comparison.

Williams
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 19.395s, P13/1m 17.570s, P13
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 18.527s, P7/1m 17.633s, P15

Maldonado used a new floor and standard rear wing, while Barrichello did vice versa, as Williams assessed new aero parts. The Venezuelan did more than a race distance and more than any other driver - 79 laps - and a decision on what combination of parts to run on Saturday will be taken once the data accrued is studied.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 19.234s, P12/1m 17.581s, P14
Jaime Alguersuari (pm only), 1m 17.789s, P17
Daniel Ricciardo (am only) 1m 19.463s, P14

Buemi reported a productive day, apart from a late brush with the barriers at Tabac which damaged his STR6’s rear suspension. Alguersuari missed the morning session, which Ricciardo ran. The Australian did plenty of work on ride heights and aero levels, while the Spaniard said that he just needed more confidence in the car as the brakes gave little feel and he was troubled by oversteer once he took over.

Lotus
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 20.003s, P17/1m 18.266s, P18
Jarno Trulli, 1m 21.116s, P18/1m 18.490s, P19

Both drivers said they were happy with a solid day’s performance in which they made good progress honing the Lotus T128.

Virgin
Jerome D'Ambrosio, 1m 21.758s, P20/1m 19.185s, P21
Timo Glock, 1m 21.815s, P21/1m 19.338s, P22

Both MVR-02s ran in standard form, without blown floors. D’Ambrosio did a fine job on his first run round Monaco in an F1 car, while Glock reported a positive day.

HRT
Narain Karthikeyan, 1m 23.885s, P23/1m 22.066s, P23
Tonio Liuzzi, 1m 22.840s, P22/No time

Karthikeyan did a lot of running in FP1 as he reacclimatised to Monaco in an F1 car. Liuzzi got down to some good times early on in FP1, but made a rare error under braking for the chicane when his F111 got caught out on the bumps. He spun and crashed, damaging the car sufficiently not to run for the rest of the day.

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