F1 2015 Monaco Grand Prix: Hamilton fastest ahead of qualifying
PUBLISHED: 17:53 21 May 2015 | UPDATED: 17:53 21 May 2015
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets in both of today’s practice sessions ahead of the 2015 Monaco Grand Prix.
Having signed a new three-year contract with the Mercedes AMG Petronas team, the 30-year-old driver from Hertfordshire was quickest in both sessions on day one of running at a rain-affected Monaco Grand Prix circuit.
Hamilton went fastest in the morning with a time of 1m 18.750s, as the team reviewed one-lap pace, as well as looking at longer runs around the Monte Carlo track.
In unusually cool and then wet conditions, the world championship leader was again quickest in second practice, recording 1m 17.192s ahead of Silver Arrows colleague Nico Rosberg.
The afternoon session was affected by rain, which restricted running for the majority, but Hamilton’s fastest time was still 1.29 seconds quicker than in FP2 last year.
Hamilton said: “I had a great first day here.
“Every year, it stuns me how fast we have to think out there, with so much information coming at you, and you have to be more reactive and agile than anywhere else.
“The target is always to get on the pace as quick as you can and to be very specific and precise in the set-up changes you make, so you don’t go down the wrong path.
“The balance today was not far off, so we have been tuning that with our programme, and there are still some areas to improve on.”
Monaco facts and stats: The track
* First race: 1950
* Circuit length: 3.340km/2.075 miles
* Run to Turn One: 210 metres
* Longest straight: 510km, on the approach to Turn One.
* Top speed: 295km/h on the approach to the chicane.
* DRS Zones: One – on the approach to Turn One.
* Key corner: Casino Square. The entry and the exit are both blind, requiring bravery and precision from the driver to get right.
* Pitlane length: 301 metres.
* Major changes for 2015: Re-surfacing work.
Hamilton added: “When it rained, we didn’t need to take any risks so stayed in the garage, but the lap I did at the end showed that the black paint covering the white lines is even more slippery than the lines themselves.
“Now we need to work well tomorrow, make the right steps forward with the car, and pick up on Saturday where we left off today.”
After finishing ninth in the morning, Rosberg was second best in the afternoon with a lap of 1m 17.932s.
Rosberg said: “It’s great to be back at this legendary circuit, the car felt great. Monaco is the highlight of the year for me.
Monaco Grand Prix facts and stats: The race
* Start time: 1400 (local)/1300 (BST)
* Race distance: 78 laps (full World Championship points awarded after 75 per cent distance/58 laps)
* 2014 winner: Nico Rosberg
* 2014 pole position: Nico Rosberg 1m15.989s 158.233km/h
* 2014 fastest lap: Kimi Raikkonen 1m18.479s 153.213km/h
* Chances of a Safety Car: High. Statistically, there’s an 80 per cent chance of a Safety Car – largely due to the lack of run-off. There was one Safety Car period last year, following an accident involving Adrian Sutil.
* Don’t put the kettle on... – Between laps 25-27. With it being so difficult to overtake around Monaco, track position is king. Last year’s race was won using a one-stop strategy, the top four cars starting on the Supersoft tyre and then switching to the Soft.
* Weather forecast: It’s unpredictable in Monaco at this time of year. However, the guidebooks tell us that the Principality receives 300 days of sunshine per year, so there’s more chance of sun than rain.
“We are very quick here again, so I’m quite confident for this weekend.
“I didn’t get it all together today, I had a lot traffic, so the next practice session on Saturday morning will be very important.”
The head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport felt it was a “pretty satisfying first day” in Monaco.
Toto Wolff said: “Lewis settled into his rhythm quickly and looked really confident out there today, topping both sessions.
“Nico had a good day too, running a little ahead of everybody else in FP1 and brushing the wall, which put him down the timesheets as the track improved – and then setting competitive times in FP2.
“The car is working well but there are still areas for us to improve before Saturday.
“There is a day’s break in running but it will be busy tomorrow [Friday] as we complete our preparations for the business end of the weekend.
“It will be an intense battle between both drivers and with our rivals. We’re looking forward to it.”
Both Mercedes drivers used the Prime (soft) tyres throughout each session, with the exception of the start of the first and end of the second session, when inters/wet tyres were used on the damp circuit.
Mercedes technical director Paddy Lowe said: “It was a fairly trouble-free day and a solid start to the weekend.
“The rain for the majority of the second session reduced our planned running but nevertheless we covered all we needed to do today apart from running the Super Soft tyre.
“The conditions were a bit cooler than we expect over the weekend and this made it extremely hard to get the harder Prime tyre to work.”
He added: “Nico was slightly affected by a small brush with the barrier at Tabac, which caused some slight damage to the rear right wheel.
“We made some precautionary changes to the front suspension between the sessions but fortunately everything looked fine with the car.
“Overall, we’re happy with the pace of the car so far, but the changeable conditions today mean we still have a lot of work to do in the final practice session on Saturday to perfect the setup for qualifying.”
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