May 23, 2013, 5:47 AM EDT
Nico Rosberg has finished quickest in the first practice session for this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, finishing ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and the Lotus of Romain Grosjean.
Mercedes are expected to excel around the tight and twisting streets of Monaco, with the W04 car having good one-lap pace. Although this result may come as little surprise to some, Rosberg will still be pleased to have ran so strongly today. Many drivers struggled with their Pirelli tires, locking up heavily, and Adrian Sutil had a scrape with the barrier at Ste Devote, giving his mechanics a bit of extra work in order to get him out for the second session.
At the top, the drivers were very closely matched, with Alonso, Grosjean and Felipe Massa lapping within two-tenths of Rosberg’s time. Lewis Hamilton underlined Mercedes’ pace by finishing 5th. McLaren and Red Bull were less fortunate, finishing around 1 second off the leaders, although Jenson Button and Sergio Perez will be pleased to have made the top ten. Last year’s winner, Mark Webber, finished 7th, whilst Pastor Maldonado produced the stand-out performance of the day by finishing 6th. This could mark a great turning point for Williams should they continue their form into qualifying and the race this weekend.
Caterham pulled clear of Marussia at the back, with their upgrades appearing to finally have given them a definite edge. Giedo van der Garde continued his good form from the Spanish GP by finishing just two-tenths off Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo. However, with Marussia also finishing within three-tenths of their closest rivals, it appears the battle at the back is only set to intensify.
At the front though, it all seems to be about Mercedes. Rosberg and Hamilton will be keen on continuing this form into FP2 later today before the rest day tomorrow. The weekend will resume as normal on Saturday, with the forecast suggesting that rain could yet make an appearance for the race on Sunday.
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