Just a tenth of a second split the leading Mercedes in Thursday morning’s opening practice for the Formula 1 Monaco GP 2016, as world champion Lewis Hamilton narrowly got the better of team mate Nico Rosberg, who picked up a puncture late in the session after running over a loose drain cover coming out of Turn 1.
In a dramatic moment the drain cover was flicked back into the path of Jenson Button’s McLaren, causing substantial damage to the Briton’s front wing and leading to the session being red flagged with three minutes to go. Williams and Renault were also in the wars. At the former, Felipe Massa got it wrong coming into Ste Devote less than half an hour in, and badly damaged the left-side of his car against the barriers.
And in the final half hour Jolyon Palmer made an error of judgement at Tabac and similarly left his Renault mechanics with plenty of repair work to do ahead of FP2. Closest to the Mercedes in the times was Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, followed by the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. Daniil Kvyat was sixth for Toro Rosso, ahead of the Force India duo of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz completed the top ten.