Sebastian Vettel sets the pace in the third and final practice session in Monaco

Sebastian Vettel set the pace in FP3 ahead of qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix.

It was a dry session for the drivers after some wet running on Thursday, giving them the first opportunity to try out the new super-soft tyres. Lewis Hamilton lead rookie Max Verstappen in the first practice session before going fastest again in FP2, this time ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg.

After compromised running on Thursday, teams wasted no time in getting their drivers out on track for the start of the third and final practice session. Both Mercedes drivers and both Manors went straight out on the super-soft tyre and Hamilton set the initial pace with a 1:19.074 before improving to a 1:17.504. Rosberg slotted into second place behind his team-mate after his first couple of laps.

Ferrari did not go out of the garage straight away as some adjustments were carried out to both car, and Kimi Raikkonen set his first lap-time with nearly 20 minutes of the session gone. It was enough to see him go third fastest on the soft compound tyre behind the Mercedes duo. When he put the super-soft tyre on he improved his lap time before ending up in the barriers at Sainte Devote, causing damage to the left rear tyre. The session was red flagged in order to allow marshals to recover the stricken Ferrari.

Elsewhere Fernando Alonso had been about to start a lap in his McLaren but was compromised after coming across the Ferrari. The session was quickly green flagged again and the action recommenced as drivers instantly took to the track. Having already lost significant time on Thursday due to the weather time is of the essence to get some substantial running in ahead of qualifying and the race. A number of drivers throughout the session struggled to get their cars stopped out of the tunnel and ran across the Nouvelle Chicane.

Verstappen, who had gone second fastest in the first practice session, got it wrong at Anthony Noghes, losing part of his rear wing as a result. Marcus Ericsson complained throughout the session about lack of grip and locked up going into Sainte Devote. Rosberg had a late improvement to end up six hundredths behind his team-mate. Vettel set a very impressive lap-time with about five minutes of the session remaining, going five tenths quicker than Hamilton and Rosberg. Rosberg improved to within two tenths of Vettel’s pace.

In the closing minute of practice, cars backed up at the final corner trying to find clear space to set a final lap-time. There were a number of improvements including Carlos Sainz and Jenson Button.

Free Practice 3 times:

  1. Sebastian Vettel – 1:16.143 – 27 laps
  2. Nico Rosberg – 1:16.361 – 31 laps
  3. Lewis Hamilton – 1:16.705 – 31 laps
  4. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:17.120 – 26 laps
  5. Carlos Sainz – 1:17.256 – 39 laps
  6. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:17.401 – 11 laps
  7. Daniil Kvyat – 1:17.471 – 28 laps
  8. Jenson Button – 1:17.767 – 28 laps
  9. Max Verstappen – 1:17.788 – 23 laps
  10. Romain Grosjean – 1:17.806 – 28 laps
  11. Sergio Perez – 1:17.832 – 30 laps
  12. Pastor Maldonado – 1:17.956 – 28 laps
  13. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:18.102 – 32 laps
  14. Fernando Alonso – 1:18.197 – 26 laps
  15. Valtteri Bottas – 1:18.212 – 29 laps
  16. Felipe Massa – 1:18.242 – 32 laps
  17. Felipe Nasr – 1:18.767 – 38 laps
  18. Marcus Ericsson – 1:19.269 – 37 laps
  19. Will Stevens – 1:21.093 – 31 laps
  20. Roberto Merhi – 1:22.225 – 30 laps

Lewis Hamilton fastest again as rain hits Monaco

Lewis Hamilton continued his form from the first Free Practice session to remain fastest in the afternoon.

It was a dry start to the session but with the threat of rain in the air drivers wasted no time in getting out on track to get some running in. There were a couple of yellow flags early on in the session as drivers including Kimi Raikkonen and Pastor Maldonado got things wrong. A number of drivers had a spell at the top of the times as the lap-times fell, including Sebastian Vettel, Carlos Sainz, Nico Rosberg and Hamilton.

The session was red flagged after just 15 minutes when Roberto Merhi lost it on the brakes coming out of the tunnel, a fate which has befallen a number of drivers in the past. He made contact with the barrier, losing his front wing and leaving debris strewn across the track. The session was quickly given the green flag but as the rain started to fall there was limited running in the remaining 50 minutes. Maldonado ventured out on the brand new super soft tyres but didn’t complete a lap due to the deteriorating conditions.

There was a lengthy period of no cars on track before Fernando Alonso headed out with ten minutes to go. He was joined by Daniel Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat, as well as the Williams duo of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa. Due to the wet nature of the track times were quite a bit off times set in the dry. Marcus Ericsson did not get out for any running due to a mechanical issue.

Free Practice 2 times:

  1. Lewis Hamilton – 1:17.192 – 12 laps
  2. Nico Rosberg – 1:17.932 – 16 laps
  3. Sebastian Vettel – 1:18.295 – 14 laps
  4. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:18.543 – 15 laps
  5. Daniil Kvyat – 1:19.548 – 16 laps
  6. Carlos Sainz – 1:18.659 – 14 laps
  7. Max Verstappen – 1:18.782 – 12 laps
  8. Fernando Alonso – 1:18.906 – 18 laps
  9. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:19.151 – 13 laps
  10. Romain Grosjean – 1:19.266 – 13 laps
  11. Sergio Perez – 1:19.300 – 13 laps
  12. Felipe Massa – 1:19.560 – 15 laps
  13. Valtteri Bottas – 1:19.566 – 14 laps
  14. Pastor Maldonado – 1:19.577 – 13 laps
  15. Jenson Button – 1:19.606 – 14 laps
  16. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:19.639 – 13 laps
  17. Felipe Nasr – 1:20.263 – 10 laps
  18. Roberto Merhi – 1:22.017 – 9 laps
  19. Will Stevens – 1:22,943 – 13 laps

Lewis Hamilton leads Max Verstappen in Monaco FP1

Newly contracted Lewis Hamilton was the fastest driver around the Principality in the weekend’s opening practice session.

His lap-time of 1:18.750 was just a tenth clear of rookie Max Verstappen who took his Toro Rosso to an impressive second, ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. It is Verstappen’s first time racing at Monaco and he has certainly impressed on his debut thus far. As the track conditions improved over the course of the session – having started as a ‘wet’ session – the lap-times tumbled. Overnight rain had left the track with little grip but the conditions cleared up allowing drivers to get some running in on dry tyres after starting on intermediates.

It was Hamilton who also set the initial pace – his lap-time of a 1:27s nearly ten seconds off the ultimate pace for the session. The unforgiving streets of Monte Carlo caught a few drivers out as they got up to speed. Nico Rosberg glanced the barriers at Tabac while Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso all had moments at Sainte Devote, the latter two taking to the escape road. Alonso’s team-mate Jenson Button endured another tricky start to his morning when the team had to fix an ERS issue on his car. He eventually got out with just half an hour of the session remaining.

In the last ten minutes there were 19 cars on track, leading to a busy and congested end to the session. Verstappen put in a lap time that was enough to put him third fastest, which he then improved on. There were a number of late improvers including Sainz, Pastor Maldonado, Ricciardo, and Daniil Kvyat.

Free Practice One times:

  1. Lewis Hamilton – 1:18.750 – 49 laps
  2. Max Verstappen – 1:18.899 – 42 laps
  3. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:19.086 – 27 laps
  4. Sebastian Vettel – 1:19.134 – 31 laps
  5. Carlos Sainz – 1:19.245 – 40 laps
  6. Pastor Maldonado – 1:19.454 – 35 laps
  7. Daniil Kvyat – 1:19.520 – 33 laps
  8. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:19.679 – 31 laps
  9. Nico Rosberg – 1:19.762 – 47 laps
  10. Felipe Massa – 1:19.766 – 32 laps
  11. Fernando Alonso – 1:19.791 – 28 laps
  12. Jenson Button – 1:20.202 – 15 laps
  13. Romain Grosjean – 1:20.274 – 34 laps
  14. Sergio Perez – 1:20.619 – 35 laps
  15. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:20.784 – 34 laps
  16. Felipe Nasr – 1:20.857 – 24 laps
  17. Valtteri Bottas – 1:20.917 – 36 laps
  18. Marcus Ericsson – 1:21.219 – 25 laps
  19. Will Stevens – 1:23.234 – 28 laps
  20. Roberto Merhi – 1:23.404 – 31 laps

Nico Rosberg fastest ahead of qualifying in Spain

Nico Rosberg set the fastest lap in FP3 to top the final practice session ahead of qualifying, having already been fastest in FP1.

Pastor Maldonado was the first driver out on track to start FP3. The Lotus driver had restricted running in FP1 yesterday due to a gearbox issue but was able to get 34 laps under his belt in FP2. He was soon joined on track by local hero Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo who endured a difficult start to his weekend yesterday, completing just 13 laps over two sessions. Early phases of running saw drivers’ tyres below the optimum operating temperature and a number struggled with lock-ups.

Daniil Kvyat was confined to the garage for most of the session due to a water leak but he eventually got out with twenty minutes to go. Lewis Hamilton found the limit at Turn 3, spinning as he drifted wide onto the astroturf. He was able to select reverse in the car and get going again. In the final 20 minutes drivers started to put on the option compound tyre to do qualifying runs ahead of the real thing this afternoon. This resulted in a number of time improvements with Valtteri Bottas taking over at the top from initial pacesetter Nico Rosberg, who then got it back again. He ended up ahead of Sebastian Vettel and team-mate Lewis Hamilton who set the pace in FP2.

Times from FP3:

  1. Nico Rosberg – 1:26.021 – 19 laps
  2. Sebastian Vettel – 1:26.177 – 14 laps
  3. Lewis Hamilton – 1:26.222 – 10 laps
  4. Valtteri Bottas – 1:26.682 – 19 laps
  5. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:26.944 – 14 laps
  6. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:27.048 – 19 laps
  7. Felipe Massa – 1:27.109 – 19 laps
  8. Max Verstappen – 1:27.132 – 18 laps
  9. Daniil Kvyat – 1:27.313 – 7 laps
  10. Carlos Sainz – 1:27.809 – 17 laps
  11. Jenson Button – 1:27.938 – 17 laps
  12. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:28.082 – 13 laps
  13. Felipe Nasr – 1:28.096 – 23 laps
  14. Fernando Alonso – 1:28.304 – 17 laps
  15. Romain Grosjean – 1:28.578 – 17 laps
  16. Pastor Maldonado – 1:28.618 – 18 laps
  17. Marcus Ericsson – 1:28.788 – 20 laps
  18. Sergio Perez – 1:28.996 – 14 laps
  19. Will Stevens – 1:31.125 – 16 laps
  20. Roberto Merhi – 1:31.749 – 17 laps

Lewis Hamilton edges ahead in second Spanish Grand Prix practice session

Lewis Hamilton moved ahead of his team-mate in the second practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Having ended up just seven hundredths behind Nico Rosberg in FP1, Hamilton was four tenths faster in FP2 with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in second. Rosberg was third with Kimi Raikkonen once again in fourth. The top four were separated by just under a second – quite a significant gap for practice – with the whole field separated by 5.899 seconds. Roberto Merhi was bringing up the rear behind his team-mate Will Stevens.

Romain Grosjean, Marcus Ericsson, and Valtteri Bottas returned to their cars having sat out the first practice session to allow Lotus, Sauber, and Williams’ respective third drivers some running in the car. It was Ericsson who was first out on track, completing a practice start before he headed out for some running. There was early work being carried out on Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull and Pastor Maldonado’s Lotus, the latter of the pair having had limited running in FP1 due to a gearbox glitch. It wasn’t a trouble free FP2 for Lotus as Grosjean’s engine cover disintegrated on track bringing out a red flag.

Raikkonen bemoaned about a lack of grip during the session while Rosberg encountered oversteer. They weren’t the only drivers to struggle as a tailwind disrupted handling. There was an improvement for the McLaren-Honda duo of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso who ended up seventh and eleventh respectively. Alonso was just a hundredth off Felipe Massa in tenth place.

Times from FP2:

  1. Lewis Hamilton – 1:26.852 – 26 laps
  2. Sebastian Vettel – 1:27.260 – 37 laps
  3. Nico Rosberg – 1:27.616 – 35 laps
  4. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:27.780 – 36 laps
  5. Daniil Kvyat – 1:27.943 – 25 laps
  6. Max Verstappen – 1:28.017 – 32 laps
  7. Jenson Button – 1:28.494 – 31 laps
  8. Valtteri Bottas – 1:28.525 – 39 laps
  9. Carlos Sainz – 1:28.674 – 31 laps
  10. Felipe Massa – 1:28.712 – 36 laps
  11. Fernando Alonso – 1:28.723 – 28 laps
  12. Romain Grosjean – 1:29.086 – 14 laps
  13. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:29.098 – 4 laps
  14. Pastor Maldonado – 1:29.217 – 34 laps
  15. Felipe Nasr – 1:29.333 – 37 laps
  16. Marcus Ericsson – 1:29.361 – 34 laps
  17. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:29.601 – 38 laps
  18. Sergio Perez – 1:29.707 – 35 laps
  19. Will Stevens – 1:31.929 – 30 laps
  20. Roberto Merhi – 1:32.751 – 23 laps

First blood to Nico Rosberg in Barcelona

Nico Rosberg was the fastest driver in the opening session of the Spanish Grand Prix weekend but was just seven hundredths clear of team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

While the two Mercedes were very close in terms of pace they were nine tenths faster than their nearest rival – the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel. He in turn was just hundredths faster than his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. Ferrari have come to the start of the European season with clear intentions, running with 16 updates to the car including smaller sidepods, a revised cooling system, rear wing tweaks, and new floor.

Behind the Ferrari duo Carlos Sainz was four tenths faster than team-mate Max Verstappen with Daniil Kvyat sixth for Red Bull. Both Red Bull drivers are going into the weekend on their fourth – and final – free engine change at just the fifth race of the season. They have also come to the race with a shorter nose. Rounding out the top ten were Felipe Massa, Daniel Ricciardo and Felipe Nasr. Rosberg set the first flying lap of the session with a 1:31.039. Hamilton was next up to set a lap-time followed by the Manor duo of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi. After the first 30 minutes of running in which drivers have an additional set of tyres to use, Rosberg led Hamilton, Vettel, Raikkonen, and Sainz.

McLaren are another team who have arrived with upgrades and theirs include rear suspension updates and subtle aero tweaks. The team have also revealed a revised livery. Fernando Alonso ended up fifteenth while team-mate Jenson Button was sixteenth, after complaining of oversteer throughout the session and the balance being wrong with the front wing.

There were three third drivers getting outings for their respective teams – Jolyon Palmer for Lotus, Raffaele Marciello for Sauber and Susie Wolff for Williams. That meant Romain Grosjean, Marcus Ericsson and Valtteri Bottas spent the session on the sidelines. Marciello was the best placed of the trio, ending the session 12th fastest. Palmer ended up thirteenth while Wolff was fourteenth.

Times from FP1:

  1. Nico Rosberg – 1:26.828 – 28 laps
  2. Lewis Hamilton – 1:26.898 – 27 laps
  3. Sebastian Vettel – 1:27.806 – 21 laps
  4. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:27.832 – 16 laps
  5. Carlos Sainz – 1:28.132 – 27 laps
  6. Max Verstappen – 1:28.529 – 23 laps
  7. Daniil Kvyat – 1:28.785 – 7 laps
  8. Felipe Massa – 1:28.831 – 21 laps
  9. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:29.075 – 9 laps
  10. Felipe Nasr – 1:29.140 – 14 laps
  11. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:29.409 – 20 laps
  12. Raffaele Marciello – 1:29.630 – 15 laps
  13. Jolyon Palmer – 1:29.676 – 21 laps
  14. Susie Wolff – 1:29.708 – 22 laps
  15. Fernando Alonso – 1:29.813 – 22 laps
  16. Jenson Button – 1:29.817 – 22 laps
  17. Sergio Perez – 1:30.096 – 19 laps
  18. Pastor Maldonado – 1:30.110 – 7 laps
  19. Will Stevens – 1:32.471 – 22 laps
  20. Roberto Merhi – 1:32.647 – 20 laps

Lewis Hamilton leads the way in Bahrain FP3

Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the third and final practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Ferrari set the early pace with FP1 pacesetter Kimi Raikkonen leading his team-mate my two tenths of a second on the medium compound tyres. Later on the in the session drivers put on the soft tyres and Nico Hulkenberg set the fastest lap – five tenths faster than Raikkonen’s effort. This was quickly beaten by Nico Rosberg – nearly a second and a half faster – with Felipe Massa slotting into second. The order continued to change with Lewis Hamilton topping the times and Sebastian Vettel was just six hundredths off his pace.

As had been the case in Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2 a number of drivers struggled with lock-ups and running deep in the braking zones. Vettel complained that his DRS was not working when he first went out on track while Jenson Button bemoaned a lack of rear grip. A bit from the rear of Pastor Maldonado’s car fell off, leaving a bit of debris on the track, while Carlos Sainz struggled with power issues.

Daniil Kvyat’s session came to an apparent early end when he spun his car and ended up beached in the gravel after 30 minutes. His mechanics got the car ready to go again and he got out with a couple of minutes left to get a soft tyre run in. The incident was initially covered by a yellow flag but a red flag was brought out to allow marshals to recover the car. It was a brief five minute red flag period and cars wasted no time in getting out again for the restart. Fernando Alonso was one of the first drivers out having had extensive work carried out on his car to fix a broken sensor.

Free practice three times:

  1. Lewis Hamilton – 1:34.599 – 13 laps
  2. Sebastian Vettel – 1:34.668 – 14 laps
  3. Nico Rosberg 1:34.968 – 16 laps
  4. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:35.141 – 13 laps
  5. Valtteri Bottas – 1:35.393 – 18 laps
  6. Felipe Massa  – 1:35.471 – 15 laps
  7. Pastor Maldonado – 1:36.307 – 14 laps
  8. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:36.335 – 8 laps
  9. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:36.421 – 13 laps
  10. Felipe Nasr – 1:36.429 – 18 laps
  11. Jenson Button – 1:36.488 – 14 laps
  12. Daniil Kvyat – 1:36.548 – 7 laps
  13. Marcus Ericsson – 1:36.612 – 17 laps
  14. Max Verstappen – 1:36.684 – 11 laps
  15. Sergio Perez – 1:36.727 – 14 laps
  16. Fernando Alonso – 1:36.899 – 11 laps
  17. Carlos Sainz – 1:36.979 – 14 laps
  18. Romain Grosjean – 1:37.151 – 17 laps
  19. Will Stevens – 1:39.745 – 12 laps
  20. Roberto Merhi – 1:40.541 – 14 laps