McLaren's Lewis Hamilton turned the tables on Ferrari with the fastest lap in Monaco Grand Prix practice.
|Monaco is the most glamorous race |
on the calendar [GALLO/GETTY]
The 23-year-old Briton, runner-up in the Mediterranean principality in a McLaren one-two last year, showed his mastery of the tight and twisty streets with an afternoon lap of one minute 15.140 seconds.
His friend and rival Nico Rosberg, also running on the softer tyres, was second quickest in a Williams.
Ferrari's world champion Kimi Raikkonen, seven points clear of Hamilton and his own Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa after five races, had set the pace in the morning with a time of 1:15.948. He was third in the afternoon.
Hamilton, wearing a specially-designed diamond-studded helmet for the most glamorous race of the season, was delighted with his day's work.
"I simply love Monaco and enjoy every single moment I get to spend on the track," he said.
"The car felt great almost immediately and I was able to show a good pace from the very beginning."
Despite Ferrari having won four of the season's five races to date, McLaren are strongly fancied to win on Sunday at a circuit that has favoured them more than any team in recent years.
With blue skies and sunshine contrasting with forecasts of rain at the weekend, Hamilton was second quickest in the morning.
His Finnish team mate Heikki Kovalainen was third and then fifth.
Red flags fall
Both sessions were interrupted by red flags, with the first halted for more than 15 minutes when a drain cover worked loose on the uphill slope from the Ste. Devote corner.
The later practice was stopped briefly when double world champion Fernando Alonso, winner with McLaren in Monaco last year and Renault in 2006, got out of shape and clouted the barriers coming out of Ste. Devote.
The impact, with the rear of the Renault snapping out of line, scattered debris on the track before the rear wing was shed on the approach to the Loew's hairpin.
Brazilian Nelson Piquet, Alonso's struggling rookie team mate, had earlier made a similar mistake and hit the barriers at the same spot.
Brazil's Felipe Massa, winner of two of the last three races, was fourth for Ferrari in both sessions but the Brazilian is no fan of the most glamorous race on the calendar.
"There is nothing to explain, I don't like it and that's it," he had said the day before.
"I prefer tracks like Turkey, Spa, with quick corners. Real tracks. I don't like Monaco. I am not having fun driving here but that doesn't mean I can't be competitive."
Rosberg, son of former champion Keke and a Monaco resident, looked completely at home in the principality while Poland's Robert Kubica suggested he too will be a contender on Sunday with sixth place in both sessions for BMW Sauber.
Italian veteran Giancarlo Fisichella, preparing for his 200th grand prix start, was 10th for Force India in the morning and a complete contrast in outlook to Massa.
"I love Monaco, it is one of my favourite circuits," said Fisichella.