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Practice two - Hamilton on top, Rosberg shines 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 Alonso becomes the second Renault driver to hit the wall in P2

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton is so fired up to do well in Monte Carlo this weekend, and on Thursday afternoon he finished up exactly where he wanted to be, almost four-tenths ahead of his opposition.

The 23 year-old Englishman lapped his MP4-23 in 1m 15.140s, well below Fernando Alonso’s 2007 pole time of 1m 15.726s, after a bravura display of running close to the unyielding barriers that await the unwary.

Nico Rosberg led the pursuit for Williams, taking his FW30 round in 1m 15.533s as entrant Frank Williams celebrates his 600th Grand Prix. The Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa were third and fourth, the Finn lapping in 1m 15.572s, the Brazilian in 1m 15.869s. Right behind them came Heikki Kovalainen in the second McLaren, with 1m 15.881s.

Robert Kubica headed the next batch with 1m 16.296s for BMW Sauber, chased by Alonso’s Renault (1m 16.310s), late-improving Jenson Button in the Honda (1m 16.351s), Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima (1m 16.372s), Honda’s Rubens Barrichello (1m 16.418s), BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld (1m 16.426s) and Toyota’s Timo Glock (1m 16.688s).

Mark Webber and David Coulthard put their Red Bull RB4s 13th and 14th in 1m 17.094s and 1m 17.131s respectively, with Nelson Piquet 15th for Renault on 1m 17.246s. Giancarlo Fisichella was right behind the second Renault in his Force India with 1m 17.251s, then came Toyota’s Jarno Trulli (1m 17.379s), Sebastien Bourdais (1m 17.581s) in the new Toro Rosso, Force India’s Adrian Sutil (1m 18.176s) and Sebastian Vettel (1m 18.225s) in the second Toro Rosso.

Renault had a tough session, first with Piquet spinning his R28 into the wall at Ste Devote and damaging his rear wing, and then Alonso making a similar error which temporarily brought out the red flag.

Webber missed the chicane and bounced across the kerbs, Raikkonen lost a better lap after Massa had dislodged a kerb marker pole the previous tour, and Sutil damaged his Force India’s front wing in a slow-motion off at Rascasse.

With rain forecast for Friday the track may be washed clean of the rubber that it was building up, which could make Saturday’s final practice session even more critical.