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F1 Monaco GP: Rapid Hamilton heads up truncated Monaco FP1

Lewis Hamilton sets a rapid pace in first free practice for the Monaco Grand Prix, as a loose drain cover causes two punctures and an early end.
CLICK HERE for the full Monaco Grand Prix FP1 result

Lewis Hamilton enjoyed a trouble-free start to his Monaco Grand Prix weekend by setting a fierce pace to top an otherwise eventful and truncated first free practice session around the Principality.

The first opportunity to see the new 'purple' ultra-soft Pirelli tyres in action, Hamilton wasted no time in showing their potential around the street venue by getting immediately up to speed with a 1min 16.588secs lap in opening minutes.

The first time Mercedes has ever trialled the ultra-soft tyre having opted against using it in pre-season testing, Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were still the drivers to beat in FP1, the defending champion getting his benchmark down to 1min 15.537secs to lead his team-mate by a tenth. As a reference, Hamilton's top FP1 time from 2015 was a 1min 18.750s.

Rosberg was partially responsible for the session ending four minutes early when he suffered a puncture after striking a dislodged drain cover on the exit of Ste Devote. More dramatically, however, his car would kick up the cover and send it spiralling down the track, with Jenson Button's McLaren striking it with his right-front tyre. Despite it causing significant front-end damage to the MP4-31, there was fortunately no further consequence, even if the decision was taken to conclusively red flag the session.

Sebastian Vettel was third quickest for Ferrari after gradual gains over the course of the session, ahead of Red Bull pair Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, while Daniil Kvyat secured an eye-catching sixth fastest for Toro Rosso, despite a spin at Ste Devote.

Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez were closely matched in the Force Indias for seventh and eighth, with Kimi Raikkonen and Carlos Sainz completing the top ten.

Further back, there were accidents for Felipe Massa and Jolyon Palmer, the former sliding into the wall at Ste. Devote, causing damage to the front and rear left of his Williams, while the latter kissed the wall at Tabac to break his Renault's rear suspension.

In a session of three Virtual Safety Cars, Esteban Gutierrez was brought to a halt mid-course in the Haas with yet more technical dramas.
by Ollie Barstow

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