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Thursday analysis - Red Bull resurgent, Toro Rosso to the fore

21 May 2015

Where FP1 was all about maintaining crucial tyre and brake temperatures - and getting the timing right on a continually improving circuit - FP2 was meant to be the acid test for Pirelli's new supersoft rubber, at least until the onset of rain. With plenty of work therefore to do on Saturday morning, we take a team-by-team look at progress on Thursday in Monaco...

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 18.750s, P1/1m 17.192s, P1
Nico Rosberg, 1m 19.762s, P9/1m 17.932s, P2

Hamilton was in devastating form as he comfortably led Rosberg in both sessions, at one stage being six seconds faster than anyone in FP1 as he found the track's limits faster. His confidence was extraordinary, especially as he said there were still improvements to come from the F1 W06 hybrid. Rosberg shaved the wall at Tabac early on in FP1, without damage, and later talked of having a lot of traffic.

Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 19.134s, P4/1m 18.295s, P3
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 19.679s, P8/1m 18.543s, P4

As expected, Ferrari looked quite strong in both sessions, though the timing of their runs disguised that a little in the first. Both SF15-Ts ran in the same specification here, and both drivers were as happy as you'd expect when weather prevented them from completing their programme. As did many drivers, Raikkonen said that he found it hard to warm up the front tyres.

Red Bull
Daniil Kvyat, 1m 19.520s, P7/1m 18.548s, P5
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 19.086s, P3/1m 19.639s, P16

Apart from getting very angry with traffic at one stage, Kvyat had a good day, looking very quick early in FP2 and again in the damp at the end. Ricciardo, meanwhile, feels that Monaco will give Red Bull the chance to have their best race of the season so far. He believes that they can out-qualify Williams here, but thought that Ferrari might just be beyond reach.

Toro Rosso
Carlos Sainz, 1m 19.245s, P5/1m 18.659s, P6
Max Verstappen, 1m 18.899s, P2/1m 18.782s, P7

Verstappen looked mighty in FP1 considering that he had never raced here previously, let alone in an F1 car, and that he admitted he'd gone off at Ste Devote on his first lap in the simulator. He said that he built up slowly to his best lap, but it didn't look at all like that as it was only 0.149s slower than Hamilton's. The track had got better since the world champion set that time, but it was nonetheless a very impressive performance. So was Sainz's in FP2. He was also making his F1 debut at Monaco, but had at least raced here before. Like Verstappen, he said that the STR10 gave him the confidence he needed to push hard.

McLaren
Fernando Alonso, 1m 19.791s, P11/1m 18.906s, P8
Jenson Button, 1m 20.202s, P12/1m 19.606s, P15

Alonso looked very strong in FP1, and again in FP2, and was probably the fastest runner in the rain at the close of FP2. He said he was happy with his chassis here. Button had some niggling but undisclosed problems in FP1, and brake temperature trouble in FP2 restricted his running. Honda said they ideally needed the time lost to rain to hone their power and driveability settings, but that they will have that optimised by qualifying.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 20.784s, P15/1m 19.151s, P9
Sergio Perez, 1m 20.619s, P14/1m 19.300s, P11

Force India said that they exceeded even their own optimistic forecast for the weekend in FP1, when both drivers ran strongly. The team were also savvy enough to do some long runs in case it rained in the afternoon, so they may be a step ahead of their immediate rivals on Saturday morning.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean, 1m 20.274s, P13/1m 19.266s, P10
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 19.454s, P6/1m 19.577s, P14

Maldonado was happy in FP1, but less so in FP2 - whereas Grosjean was the opposite. But the mood in this camp is good, even though the Frenchman is facing a five-place grid penalty as the team had to change his gearbox after it lost fourth gear in Spain.

Williams
Felipe Massa, 1m 19.766s, P10/1m 19.560s, P12
Valtteri Bottas, 1m 20.917s, P17/1m 19.566s, P13

Massa said he was happy with the way FP1 went for him, but Bottas had all sorts of problems generating front tyre temperature and was uncharacteristically far down the order.

Sauber
Felipe Nasr, 1m 20.857s, P16/1m 20.263s, P17
Marcus Ericsson, 1m 21.219s, P18/No time

Sauber had a tough day, both with struggling to get temperature into the C34's front tyres and with lack of downforce and traction. Ericsson also lost the afternoon to an ERS problem, though the rain minimised the amount of effective track time that the Swede missed out on.

Marussia
Roberto Merhi, 1m 23.404s, P20/1m 22.017s, P18
Will Stevens, 1m 23.234s, P19/1m 22.943s, P19

This is an emotional weekend for Marussia, with the team's memories of Jules Bianchi's bold drive to their first world championship points here last year. But Stevens, Merhi and the crew got their heads down and had a generally positive session in FP1. In FP2 the rain made the entry to the chicane slippery and it caught the Spaniard out as he got into a tank slapper going down the hill and ended up nosing into the barrier. The team report the damage as heavy but repairable.