F1 Monaco FP1 Results & Report: Vettel Beats Alonso, Session Red Flagged for Puddle

What Happens When It’s the End That Counts

5:49am EST — Sebastian Vettel (1:16.619) pipped Fernando Alonso for the first set of bragging rights of the 2011 Monaco Grand Prix weekend, taking a tenth off the Spaniard’s leading lap time just after the first practice session ended on Thursday. Nico Rosberg, Felipe Massa, and Lewis Hamilton completed the fastest five in a session marked by slow going early on and only two drivers into the barriers on the narrow circuit.

Tonio Liuzzi spun into the barrier outside the tunnel and just before the chicane, ripping the front wing off his HRT in the latter half of the session. With just under ten minutes left, Michael Schumacher slid sideways into the barrier after attempting to use an escape road to escape braking a bit too late when entering St. Devote. Both were unhurt. The only other casualty of the session was Mark Webber, stuck in the garage after his gearbox became uncooperative during a mid-session run. At the same time, the session was paused with a red flag, as a water pipe under the pit straight was leaking up onto the circuit. Five minutes were required to shut off the valve.

Many drivers were out quickly for installation laps around the sun-drenched streets of Monaco, with only the Mercedes GP drivers not having done so within five minutes of the session beginning. They began their session after the traffic cleared from the first laps. Meanwhile, Ferrari informed Twitter followers, “Contrary to what happened in the recent races, today there are no extra sets of tyres available so only two sets of primes and one options.” After the initial rush to post an installation lap, the circuit quieted right back down.

For the typical Friday (or Thursday in Monaco’s case) wait, some teams began posting random F1 facts, with Force India contributing, “For each lap of Monaco, the drivers make 54 gear shifts.” Karthikeyan was the first driver to return to the circuit, nearly twenty minutes after the ninety minute session began. He was soon joined by Button and Hamilton.

Karthikeyan’s 1:38.718 was the first time posted on the session, quickly bettering his own time by more than three seconds. He did so again on the next lap, dropping the HRT’s lap time to 1:32.260. The next lap was another nearly two seconds slower as the Indian driver remained the only man posting times or even lapping the circuit, nearly a third of the way through the session. As the laps ticked up, Karthikeyan’s time continued to drop as he continued to lap.

1 Hour Remaining:
It was still the Narain Karthikeyan show a half hour into the session, as the Indian driver had posted the only time and was only joined by Perez as the hour remaining mark approached. By that time, Karthikeyan’s time was down to 1:26.520, but it was bested by Perez’s first timed lap of 1:25280. They were soon joined on track by D’Ambrosio. Both Karthikeyan and Perez continued to improve their times, with D’Ambrosio slotting into third fastest. Soon, HRT, Virgin Racing, and Sauber released their other drivers onto the track, with Maldonado joining the running as well.

Maldonado (1:21.902) led forty minutes into this first practice, with Kobayashi, Perez, di Resta, Liuzzi, D’Ambrosio, and Karthikeyan the seven drivers who had posted times. Early lapper Karthikeyan was over three and a half seconds slower than Maldonado. Meanwhile, race control warned of a patch of water on the front straight that appeared with no apparent reason.

Other drivers finally began filling the track around the halfway point after some of the dust had been cleared away. Kovalainen added a bit of drama by missing a turn, using an escape road, and doing a three-point turn to rejoin the track. At the forty-five minute mark, Massa (1:20.825) was quickest, leading Kobayashi, Maldonado, di Resta, and Sutil as the top five.

Massa improved his time, sliding through the chicane, only to be beaten at the top by Sutil (1:20.394) as more of the front-runners joined the action. They dueled for a moment, with Massa taking nearly two seconds off the Force India driver’s time to lead the session with a lap of 1:18.582.

Red Flag, 40 Minutes Remaining:
Meanwhile, Vettel’s first lap (1:20.812) put him third fastest, just before a red flag ended the running with seconds over forty minutes remaining as repairs were required on the pit straight for a small puddle. It was apparently caused by a leaking water pipe under the circuit. The session restarted five minutes later. While the session was paused, Webber was in the garage while Red Bull worked on his malfunctioning gearbox.

30 Minutes Remaining:
The session restarted with just over a half hour of running time. Quickly, all but Heidfeld, Webber, Button, and Schumacher had posted times. Massa (1:18.582) still led when the session had run for an hour, with Hamilton, Button, Sutil, Vettel, Kobayashi, Barrichello, Maldonado, Buemi, and Kovalainen the top ten. However, Schumacher’s first lap looked to be a quick one and was, sliding into third. Alonso quickly joined his teammate at second fastest, only for Hamilton to beat everyone with the fastest session time to that point, nearly a half second faster than Massa.

However, Rosberg was soon quicker than Hamilton by over a tenth to take the lead of the timesheets, then Alonso (1:17.619) did the same. Meanwhile, Liuzzi was stopped in the runoff at the chicane after spinning and catching his front and right rear on the marina-side barrier just before it. Hamilton again took the top position with twenty minutes to go. As the only driver in the top five on track, Massa was again quickest, taking Hamilton’s fast lap by three hundredths.

He (1:17.316) still led with fifteen minutes to go, as Hamilton, Alonso, Rosberg, Sutil, Button, Schumacher, Vettel, Petrov, and Barichello comprised the top ten. Vettel, though, soon moved up to fourth while teammate Webber languished in the garage and without a lap time. Vettel continued his charge, going fastest of all by just seven thousandths over Massa.

10 Minutes Remaining:
About half the field was lapping with ten minutes remaining in the session, with Vettel (1:17.309) still leading over Hamilton, Alonso, Rosberg, Sutil, Button, Petrov, Schumacher, and Buemi for the top ten. Schumacher’s run to get out of ninth came to a jolting end as the German crashed sideways into the barrier at St. Devote, attempting to use the escape road after breaking too late as Kovalainen had done earlier. His teammate had just gone fastest (1:17.139) and led Alonso, Vettel, Massa, and Hamilton as the top five with five minutes to go.

In the clearest radio transmission heard from Button for years, he worried over a red light on the steering wheel, which the team told him was a KERS issue and to move the brake balance rearwards. With just a few minutes left, Vettel took the Red Bull to its usual position as fastest, taking three tenths off Alonso’s quickest time and dropping the Spaniard to second fastest.

As the final minute ticked off the first session, all drivers but Webber were out on the track. Alonso looked to take the lead with a fast second sector, and did so just as the checkered flag flew. However, Vettel was behind him on the circuit and pushing very hard, ended the session a tenth faster and at the top.

Final Times for FP1, Monaco Grand Prix:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:16.619 25
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:16.732 +0.113 24
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:17.139 +0.520 20
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:17.316 +0.697 24
5. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:17.350 +0.731 23
6. Jensen Button McLaren 1:17.534 +0.915 24
7. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:18.527 +1.908 30
8. Adrian Sutil Force India 1:18.578 +1.959 24
9. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:18.733 +2.114 16
10. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:18.805 +2.186 14
11. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1:18.928 +2.309 19
12. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1:18.234 +2.615 24
13. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1:19.395 +2.776 24
14. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:19.463 +2.844 25
15. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:19.768 +3.149 25
16. Sergio Perez Sauber 1:19.792 +3.173 26
17. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1:20.083 +3.464 23
18. Jarno Trulli Lotus 1:21.116 +4.497 27
19. Paul di Resta Force India 1:21.548 +4.929 32
20. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin Racing 1:21.758 +5.139 31
21. Timo Glock Virgin Racing 1:21.815 +5.196 17
22. Tonio Liuzzi HRT 1:22.840 +6.221 13
23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1:23.885 +7.266 37
24. Mark Webber Red Bull N/T N/T 3

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