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Fernando Alonso Tops the Time Sheets in Monaco Practice Sessions

Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari on the streets of Monto Carlo

There were no real surprises in the free practice session in Monaco today.  Fernando Alonso topped the time sheets in both sessions.  He continues to lead the way in terms of pace for the Maranello squad.  Ferrari team mate Felipe Massa can’t seem to come to grips with the Ferrari F10.

Red Bull’s Sebestian Vettel was the second quickest driver today on average.  He was second quickest in FP1 and third in FP2, behind Alonso and Mercedes Nico Rosberg.  Rosberg struggled in FP1, in 11th, more than a full second behind Alonso, and more than a half second behind team mate Michael Schumacher.  But he seemed to have resolved some setup issues with his engineers for FP2, and was roughly a 10th of a second behind Alonso.

If there was anything notable about today’s practice sessions, it was the fact that the first five or six cars were separated by a couple of 10ths.  The margins were closer in FP2.

Rain began to fall during the second half of FP2, which meant that none of the drivers was able to improve on his earlier time.  Rain is possible for both qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday.

While it’s difficult to draw definitive conclusions from the opening free practice sessions, as the teams experiment with different fuel loads and setups, it’s fair to assume that all of the teams, at one point or another, ran in qualifying trim, since qualifying well is so critical on Monte Carlo.  Clearly, Ferrari looks very much on the pace, and both Red Bull and Mercedes are probably giving a pretty good indication of their pace.  McLaren has been known to sandbag in practice sessions, although it seems unlikely that they would have elected to keep a large chunck of speed in hand for all of today’s practice time.

Red Bull is likely still the class of the field, although the Monte Carlo circuit has an equalizing effect.  Some of the Red Bull’s advantage might be neutralized here.  While it’s uncertain at this point which team at this point is quickest, what is clear is that the qualifying order as defined on Saturday will have a significant impact on Sunday’s race.

Free Practice 1

Free Practice 2

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