Formula 1’s new technical regulations were on display in full force at the Monaco Grand Prix, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton posting the fastest ever lap around the Monte Carlo street circuit in Thursday’s opening practice session.

The Englishman – who will equal the late Ayrton Senna’s record – if he claims his 65th career pole position this weekend, clocked a rapid 1:13.425 on the Pirelli Ultra Soft tyre to finish two-tenths of a second clear of championship leader Sebastian Vettel.

The Ferrari driver – aiming to break the Italian team’s 16-year winless streak at this circuit – was the Englishman’s closest rival in the session. The German narrowly edged out Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen by just 0.1 seconds.

Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas was the session’s early pace-setter, but the Finn dropped back to fourth as his the aforementioned trio improved later on. He found himself sandwiched between the Red Bulls, with the second RB13 of Daniel Ricciardo claiming fifth on the timesheets. The Australian was the last driver to clock a 73-second lap time around the challenging 3.7-kilometre street circuit.

The FP1 session was a closely-fought affair, with just 1.8 seconds covering the eighteen runners who posted a lap time. Those who failed to clock a timed lap were Renault’s Nick Hülkenberg and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, who were afflicted by an Energy Store and gearbox problems respectively.

The Toro Rosso pairing of Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr bucked the trend of their fellow runners and stayed on Pirelli’s Super Soft tyres for the session; they claimed sixth and ninth on the timesheets and lapped within one second of Hamilton’s session-topping time.

Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen was one of a number of drivers to skim the barriers through the Swimming Pool section, but the Finn suffered no damage and finished the session seventh-fastest.

The top ten was completed by the Force India Mercedes’ of Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon, who wound up eighth and tenth respectively. Their VJM10 cars sported a triple-plane T-wing design, a concept similarly showcased by Renault and Red Bull Racing – the latter sporting its first T-wing concept of the season.

It was an impressive showing for Ocon considering the Frenchman had never turned a lap at the circuit. Fellow Monaco debutante Lance Stroll was over a second off Ocon’s pace in his Williams and finished a low-key sixteenth fastest.

The under-pressure Canadian has failed to score a points’ finish to-date and will be closely scrutinised against teammate Felipe Massa, who finished the session eleventh-fastest.

Formula 1 returnee Jenson Button had plenty of camera attention on his temporary comeback to the sport while Fernando Alonso attempts to win the Indianapolis 500 on debut. The 2009 World Champion showed little rustiness and finished fourteenth-quickest, having never previously driven the Honda-powered MCL32. He was two spots behind teammate Stoffel Vandoorne, with the pair sandwiching the Haas of Kevin Magnussen.

Magnussen’s teammate Romain Grosjean had a somewhat untidy session en route to fifteenth; the Frenchman narrowly avoided pinballing off the barriers exiting the tunnel when his VF-17 momentarily got out of control.

Thursday’s second practice session in Monaco will begin at 14:00 local time (GMT +2).

Driver Team / Entry Time Tyre Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton uk Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:13.425 Pirelli Ultra Soft 39
2. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:13.621 Pirelli Ultra Soft 33
3. Max Verstappen nl Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:13.771 Pirelli Ultra Soft 31
4. Valtteri Bottas fi Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:13.791 Pirelli Ultra Soft 39
5. Daniel Ricciardo au Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:13.854 Pirelli Ultra Soft 44
6. Daniil Kvyat ru Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 1:14.111 Pirelli Super Soft 41
7. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:14.164 Pirelli Ultra Soft 36
8. Sergio Pérez Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:14.201 Pirelli Ultra Soft 31
9. Carlos Sainz Jr es Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 1:14.333 Pirelli Super Soft 38
10. Esteban Ocon fr Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:14.425 Pirelli Ultra Soft 38
11. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:14.617 Pirelli Ultra Soft 36
12. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Honda MCL32 1:14.813 Pirelli Ultra Soft 37
13. Kevin Magnussen dk Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:14.870 Pirelli Ultra Soft 33
14. Jenson Button uk McLaren-Honda MCL32 1:14.954 Pirelli Ultra Soft 34
15. Romain Grosjean fr Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:15.321 Pirelli Ultra Soft 32
16. Lance Stroll ca Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:15.595 Pirelli Ultra Soft 43
17. Jolyon Palmer Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 1:15.949 Pirelli Ultra Soft 41
18. Pascal Wehrlein de Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:16.258 Pirelli Ultra Soft 32
19. Nico Hulkenberg de Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 no time 3
20. Marcus Ericsson se Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 no time 3

Image via ESPN

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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.