Fernando Alonso has expressed his fears that the forecast rain for the Monaco Grand Prix weekend - potentially in the race - will cause chaos in the first event to be held around the Principality in almost a decade in the absence of traction control.

The circuit's narrow, tortuous streets and unforgiving crash barriers claimed four drivers on the opening day alone - in dry conditions - with Alonso amongst them. Though wet weather is often seen as a great leveller - and would doubtless aid Renault's bid to climb up the order given the R28's less powerful engine in relation to the front-runners - the Spaniard is clearly hoping the heavens stay firmly shut.

"Last year we did a practice session in the wet and it was virtually impossible to drive the car, even with all the driver aids," he told Spanish reporters in Monte Carlo, echoing the sentiments of Williams rival Nico Rosberg, who recalled that: "Last year the wet tyres didn't work. If the same thing happens [again], now that we don't have traction control, it will be...interesting."

"This year it would be a nightmare," agreed Alonso, "although I suppose a good result is possible because many cars might crash. I don't have a good feeling about it, though, so I hope it stays dry."

Reflecting on the first day's practice - in which he wound up seventh-quickest - the former double world champion nevertheless remained in confident spirits for a strong performance and more points this weekend.

"Overall the two sessions have gone well for us," the 26-year-old revealed. "The track was very dirty this morning, but we made good progress with our programme and the car reacted well to the changes we made.

"We seem to be on the pace on the long runs, but we must now improve our performance over a single lap because qualifying here is vital. That is where we will put our efforts."

Rookie team-mate Nelsinho Piquet's baptism of fire in Formula 1 in 2008 continued apace, however, with the young Brazilian also making contact with the barriers and giving the Enstone-based outfit's mechanics much work to do with both his and Alonso's cars damaged on only day one.

"Monaco is a difficult circuit," the 22-year-old underlined after ending up 15th-quickest, almost a second adrift of Alonso, "so I spent the day learning and familiarising myself with the track. We were able to evaluate some different set-ups, but I am still missing a bit of speed and I did not feel totally comfortable in the car.

"I hope that by Saturday I can make some progress with my engineers, so that I can make the most of the final free practice session. Then I need to approach qualifying calmly, especially as it's more important here than anywhere else."

The R?gie's executive director of engineering Pat Symonds, meanwhile, summed proceedings up as 'a normal first day of practice in Monaco', even if the team has suffered something of a setback with both drivers re-designing their cars against the barriers.

"Nelson covered a lot of laps to try and get comfortable with the circuit," the Briton recounted, "although his run on soft tyres was interrupted when he hit the wall. With Fernando we were able to work on set-up as much as you can in Monaco, as it is always quite difficult to understand the car here. His progress looks good, and apart from some slight damage we have had a successful day."

"Today we saw that finding the limits is not easy," added Renault's head of engine track operations Denis Chevrier, "and you can quickly find yourself in the barriers. That was the case for our two drivers, which cost us a bit of track time.

"We have not been able to completely finish our preparation, but the data we have gathered should be sufficient and we will add to that on Saturday morning before qualifying. As far as the engine is concerned, Monaco is a circuit that we know well and so we haven't had any big surprises."