Practice One - Vettel sets the pace for Red Bull in Monaco 26 May 2011
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, Mercedes' Nico Rosberg and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso staged a great fight for fastest time in the closing minutes of the first practice session here in Monaco on Thursday morning, with Vettel finally triumphing over Alonso by 0.113s just when it seemed that the Ferrari driver had things in the bag.
As team mate Mark Webber had a dismal time with gearbox problems that restricted him to only three slow laps and no time, the world champion pushed his way round in 1m 16.619s to edge out Alonso's 1m 16.732s, which itself had just displaced Rosberg's 1m 17.139s for Mercedes.
Behind them, Felipe Massa showed strong form for most of the session and was fourth on 1m 17.316s in the second Ferrari ahead of the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button on 1m 17.350s and 1m 17.534s respectively. Hamilton was fastest for a while, but ran into traffic in the middle sector on his quick run at the end.
Just to put these early times into perspective, Webber took pole here last year in 1m 13.826s.
The session was interrupted for 10 minutes after water leaked on to track on the pit straight, and saw Tonio Liuzzi spin his HRT under braking for entry to the chicane, removing its front wing; and Michael Schumacher spin his Mercedes into the barriers at Ste Devote.
Seventh place was a fillip for Williams, as Pastor Maldonado lapped in 1m 18.527s, ahead of a very on-form Adrian Sutil who did a great job for Force India with 1m 18.578s. Behind him, Vitaly Petrov was Renault's lead runner on 1m 18.733s ahead of Schumacher, who lapped in 1m 18.805s before his indiscretion.
Nick Heidfeld was 11th for Renault with 1m 18.928s, then came Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi and Daniel Ricciardo sandwiching Rubens Barrichello in the Williams. Buemi took his Toro Rosso round in 1m 19.234s, to Ricciardo's 1m 19.463s, with Barrichello splitting them on 1m 19.395s.
Kamui Kobayashi was fastest early on for Sauber, but ended up 15th on 1m 19.768s ahead of Mexican team mate Sergio Perez on 1m 19.792s.
Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli gave Lotus much to smile about with 17th and 18th best times, the Finn recording an encouraging best of 1m 20.083s to the Italian's 1m 21.116s. Behind them, Paul di Resta avoided heroics as he acclimatised to Monte Carlo in an Formula One car, and lapped his Force India in 1m 21.548s.
Jerome D'Ambrosio was next on 1m 21.758s from Virgin team mate Timo Glock on 1m 21.815s. Liuzzi's 1m 22.840s left him 22nd, and Narain Karthikeyan was the last man to record a time, with 1m 23.885s in the other HRT.
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