Champion on form, but trouble ahead for Raikkonen?
Fernando Alonso showed he has every intention of winning his first Monaco Grand Prix this weekend as he emerged fastest in opening practice on Thursday morning with a best lap of 1m16.712s, a tenth of a second faster than Honda test driver Anthony Davidson (1m16.872s). Underlining the Renault challenge was third-fastest Giancarlo Fisichella, who was right with Davidson, with a best of 1m16.88s.
However Michael Schumacher gave notice that he and Ferrari are not to be overlooked with his best lap of 1m16.973s being fourth fastest. There was then a gap of half a second back to the best of the rest in the form of Juan Pablo Montoya's McLaren (1m17.458s).
The big news of the session, however, was that Kimi Raikkonen stopped out on the track with mechanical troubles, smoke coming from the back of his McLaren. If this ends up meaning that he must change an engine, the Finn will have to take a 10-place penalty on the grid.
Sixth quickest in the session was BMW Sauber test driver Robert Kubica, but the Polish driver did not complete the session, pulling off after 43 minutes with an electronic problem. He ended up with a best lap of 1m17.869s ahead of the Williams of Alexander Wurz (1m17.949s) and Jenson Button's Honda with a best of 1m18.329s.
Behind him were Robert Doornbos (Red Bull) with a 1m18.394s, Honda's Rubens Barrichello 1m18.406s and Red Bull's David Coulthard with 1m18.447s. The two Williams race drivers were next with Nico Roberg (1m18.480s) just a head of Mark Webber (1m18.571s) and the second Ferrari of Felipe Massa, who lapped the track in 1m18.695s. The two Toyotas were next up with Jarno Trulli (1m18.703s) ahead of Ralf Schumacher (1m19.021s), both in the team's new TF106B machine, and then the BMW Sauber of Jacques Villeneuve (1m19.246s).
Next up were Christian Klien (Red Bull) with a 1m19.543s; Neel Jani (Toro Rosso), 1m19.651s; Giorgio Mondini, 1m19.669s, and his Midland team mate Tiago Monteiro with a 1m19.730s. The two Toro Rosso race drivers Tonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed recorded 1m19.857s and 1m20.137s respectively ahead of Midlands Christijan Albers (1m20.552s) and the two Super Aguris of Takuma Sato (1m21.144s) and Franck Montagny (1m21.594s).
Nick Heidfeld and Raikkonen failed to set representative lap times.