Sebastian Vettel has set the early pace as the action got underway this morning at Monaco, with the defending World Champion emerging fastest after trading quick session times with the Ferrari drivers, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes’ Nico Sebastian Vettel was fastest in the opening practice session at MonacoRosberg.

Vettel’s fastest lap time – a 1:16.619 – was clocked with just seconds of the 90-minute session to run, with Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg completing the top-three places. Five-time Monaco Grand Prix winner Michael Schumacher made a rare mistake, crashing out of the session at the Sainte Devote corner.

Sunny conditions greeted the drivers when the circuit opened for business at 10AM local time, and a warm day was in order with the mercury already nudging 25°C (77°F) at the start of the session.

The slow circuit quickly rubbered in and the times began to drop in earnest in the final 15 minutes of running. Both Ferraris took turns at the top of the timesheets, before Lewis Hamilton went fastest. His time was bettered by Vettel, while Nico Rosberg vaulted to the top of the running order with five minutes to go. But his reign was short-lived, as Alonso and then Vettel moved to the top of the order in a last-minute battle for pride.

Felipe Massa finished the session fourth-fastest, just ahead of Lewis Hamilton, while Jenson Button was sixth-quickest and reported problems with his KERS during the session.

With the top-six covered by just one second on the timesheets, Pastor Maldonado was a surprise seventh-fastest in his Williams, albeit almost a second slower than Button. The Venezuelan rookie has enjoyed a sensational record at Monaco in his pre-F1 career, and he certainly seemed to revel on his first F1 outing at the circuit.

The top-ten was completed by Adrian Sutil, Vitaly Petrov and Michael Schumacher, who made a rare mistake by crashing out of the session with ten minutes to go. Carrying too much speed into the Sainte Devote corner, Schumacher attempted to head up the escape road, only for the right-hand side of his Mercedes GP to collect the tyre barriers. Narain Karthikeyan fell off the circuit in sympathy, but he was able to rejoin the track without making contact with Schumacher or the wall.

Schumacher collected the Ste Devote tyre wall Liuzzi crashed at the chicane

Vitantonio Liuzzi was another to suffer misfortune during the session, which was curtailed after he lost control exiting the tunnel, clipping the inside barrier at the Harbourfront Chicane.

Mark Webber languished at the bottom of the timesheets, clocking three slow installation laps before pitting with an apparent gearbox problem that kept him out of the session.

The session was red-flagged for five minutes while track officials investigated the source of a water leak that sprang up under the starting gantry



2011 Monaco Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Session Times:

  Driver   Team Time Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Renault RB7 1:16.619 25
2. Fernando Alonso ESP Ferrari F150° Italia + 0.113 24
3. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes GP W02 + 0.520 20
4. Felipe Massa BRZ Ferrari F150° Italia + 0.697 24
5. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 + 0.731 23
6. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 + 0.915 24
7. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Cosworth FW33 + 1.908 30
8. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes VJM04 + 1.959 24
9. Vitaly Petrov RUS Renault R31 + 2.114 16
10. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes GP W02 + 2.186 14
11. Nick Heidfeld DEU Renault R31 + 2.309 19
12. Sébastien Buemi SUI Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6 + 2.615 24
13. Rubens Barrichello BRZ Williams Cosworth FW33 + 2.776 24
14. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6 + 2.844 25
15. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari C30 + 3.149 25
16. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C30 + 3.173 26
17. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Lotus Renault T128 + 3.464 23
18. Jarno Trulli ITA Lotus Renault T128 + 4.497 27
19. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM04 + 4.929 32
20. Jérôme d’Ambrosio BEL Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02 + 5.139 31
21. Timo Glock DEU Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02 + 5.196 17
22. Vitantonio Liuzzi ITA HRT F1 Cosworth F111 + 6.221 13
23. Narain Karthikeyan IND HRT F1 Cosworth F111 + 7.266 37
24. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Renault RB7 no time 3

[Images via and LAT]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.