Lewis Hamilton set the quickest time of opening practice in Monaco, beating Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by almost two tenths of a second. The Mercedes driver also eclipsed last year’s pole position time by a similar margin and beat his own lap record in the principality by 4.5s.
Hamilton recorded a time of 1:13.425 on Pirelli’s ultrasoft tyres to finish 0.196 seconds clear of Vettel, with Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen third, 0.15s adrift of the Drivers’ Championship-leading German.
The opening 90-minute session saw a number of drivers quickly try out the weekend’s softest available compound, the Pirelli ultrasoft, and Vettel set the early pace. However, the Ferrari man, who has a six-point title lead over Hamilton going into this weekend, was edged out of top spot when Mercedes swapped from supersoft tyre work to ultrasofts soon after the hour mark had passed.
Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas then traded fastest times before Hamilton set his best time of the session.
After slipping back as Red Bull, which was debuting a new T-wing, found pace and Daniel Ricciardo moved up the order but Vettel then jumped back to P2 with good lap that saw him finish 0.196 behind Hamilton.
Verstappen, meanwhile, stole into third place late in the session after he had spent a long time in the Red Bull garage after the team had detected a possible right rear puncture. Returning to the action late on Verstappen quickly found a groove and after initially slotting in behind tea-mate Ricciardo he chipped away at his lap time to eventually take third place with just over 10 minutes left in the session.
The Dutchman also set the quickest first sector of the session, but lost time in the following two to miss out on an even closer challenge to the top two drivers.
With Bottas fourth and Ricciardo fifth, sixth place in the session went to Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat, the Russian being the quickest man on supersoft tyres with the lap of 1:14.111, just under seven tenths of a second off Hamilton’s pace.
Kimi Räikkönen was seventh in the second Ferrari, though the Finn was more than half a second slower than Vettel over the 3.337km circuit. Force India’s Sergio Perez was eighth, ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr, who like Toro Rosso team-mate Kvyat was on the super-softs. Perez’s team-mate Esteban Ocon was 10th quickest.
Elsewhere, Jenson Button was 14th on his return to McLaren as stand-in for Fernando Alonso who is this weekend competing in the Indianapolis 500. Despite only having driven McLaren’s car on the team’s simulator, Button was soon finding a comfort zone with the car and completed 35 laps for a best time of 1:14.954, just 0.141 behind team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne.
There was trouble though for Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and for Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson. Hulkenberg failed to complete a flying lap after a problem was discovered with his car’s energy store, while a geabox issue sidelined Ericcson.
2017 Monaco Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:13.425s – 40
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:13.621s 0.196s 34
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:13.771s 0.346s 32
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:13.791s 0.366s 40
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:13.854s 0.429s 45
6 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:14.111s 0.686s 42
7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:14.164s 0.739s 37
8 Sergio Perez Force India 1:14.201s 0.776s 32
9 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:14.333s 0.908s 39
10 Esteban Ocon Force India 1:14.425s 1.000s 39
11 Felipe Massa Williams 1:14.617s 1.192s 37
12 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:14.813s 1.388s 38
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:14.870s 1.445s 34
14 Jenson Button McLaren 1:14.954s 1.529s 35
15 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:15.321s 1.896s 33
16 Lance Stroll Williams 1:15.595s 2.170s 44
17 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:15.949s 2.524s 42
18 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 1:16.258s 2.833s 33
19 Nico Hulkenberg Renault – – 3
20 Marcus Ericsson Sauber – – 3