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Against all odds, it's a Ferrari lock-out in Monaco

NEWS STORY
24/05/2008

Ahead of today's all-important qualifying session, the air temperature is 20 degrees C, while the track temperature is 23 degrees. It is bright and sunny.

This morning's free practice session was a 'game of two halves', with the first half hour being run in dry conditions while the second half was somewhat wet. While Kovalainen was quickest in the dry, ahead of Hamilton and Raikkonen, Alonso was quickest in the wet, ahead of Kubica and the Ferraris.

We understand that Giancarlo Fisichella changed his gearbox following this morning's session, which means he will almost certainly be demoted five grid places. Sebastian Vettel has already been informed that he too will take a five-spot hit, as he is using a different gearbox to that used in Turkey. The fact that he is driving a different car (the STR3) meaning little to the stewards here.

There is only a 20 percent chance of rain during the forthcoming session, with nothing expected in the first thirty minutes.

The lights go green, and first out is two-time Monaco winner, David Coulthard, who had limited running this morning following an oil pressure problem. The Scot is followed by Sutil and Vettel.

Coulthard posts the first time of the session, crossing the line at 18.539. Sutil posts 19.575 as Heikki Kovalainen heads down the pitlane.

A 17.862 sees Vettel go quickest, however, moments later Coulthard re-takes the top spot with a 17.732.

Vettel goes quickest in all three sectors, crossing the line at 16.955, a great time, considering that much of Thursday's runner has been washed away.

Kovalainen goes quickest in the first and final sectors, crossing the line at 16.806, to go quickest ahead of Raikkonen (16.839), who was quickest in the second sector.

Massa goes quickest with a 16.604, but is almost instantly demoted by Kovalainen who posts a 16.315. However, Rosberg, who has been consistently quick this weekend, takes the top spot with a 16.116.

More misery for Piquet, who is on the super-softs, who gets it all wrong at Ste Devote and heads down the slip road.

A 16.646 sees Alonso go fourth, however, with only half the first phase of the session complete there is still a long, long way to go.

As Raikkonen posts 15.717 to go quickest, Hamilton raises the benchmark with a 15.582. Elsewhere, the BMW duo heads down the pitlane.

On his first flying lap, Kubica goes sixth (16.496), however, he is almost instantly leapfrogged by Webber and Glock. Heidfeld goes twelfth.

Bourdais, on the super-softs, cuts the Nouvelle Chicane for the second successive lap. Elsewhere, Coulthard moves up to seventh with a 16.390.

With less than five minutes remaining, Piquet and Nakajima are still in trouble, while Trulli and Button are hardly what one might call safe.

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