Alonso quickest as Rosberg and Liuzzi crash out


Ahead of today's sole practice session the air temperature is 22 degrees C and the track temperature is 36 degrees. It is bright and sunny.

Fernando Alonso topped the timesheets on Thursday, leading to speculation that Ferrari has suddenly rediscovered its mojo - this coming in a week in which the Spaniard finished the Spanish GP a lap down on the leaders and the Maranello outfit effectively fired its technical director.

The McLarens and Mercedes were up there also, while Mark Webber missed the first session due to a gear selection problem and suffered a KERS malfunction in the second.

Vettel finished the day fifth fastest, prompting speculation that the opposition is catching up. However, let's remember that this is Monaco where anything can and does happen. It could well be that the Milton Keynes outfit is overshadowed this weekend - though we doubt it - but normal service is sure to be resumed in Canada.

While some of the sports legends - Fangio, Moss, G Hill, Stewart, Lauda, Scheckter, Prost, Senna and Schumacher have been multiple winners here, there have also been some freak results over the years - no disrespect intended.

Tyres on offer this weekend are soft (prime) and supersoft (option). The option is thought to be worth 1.2s - 1.4s advantage over the prime but is only really good for one, sometimes two, hot laps. Pirelli says there isn't much degradation however, that's not the case when one looks at certain parts of the track, particularly the tunnel. The Italian manufacturer also believes that while most teams will opt for two stops at most they will adopt a number of different strategies.

Jean Todt walks through the paddock with his partner Michelle Yeoh, who is wearing an FIA Foundation T-shirt.

The lights go green and Kobayashi, Glock, Kovalainen and Liuzzi are among the first out. The Italian has a lot of work to do, after crashing out in the first session he missed the second as his car was still being repaired.

Three minutes into the session, all but the McLarens, Alonso, Rosberg and Buemi have been out. Schumacher, who crashed out on Thursday, is the only driver to stay out for a second lap. The Mercedes driver crosses the line at 1:22.441 to post the first time of the day. The German continues around, getting down to 20.175.

While a number of teams have brought updates here, most of them didn't run them on Thursday, opting to save them for today. McLaren, in particular, has a new rear wing which the team is trying hard to hide from the opposition.

As Schumacher gets down to 19.692, teammate Rosberg crashes heavily at the Nouvelle Chicane. He's out of the car but the Mercedes is badly damaged. The session is red flagged.

Replay shows him totally lose control under braking for the chicane. The German is a passenger as the car rides the kerbs and heads down the track towards Tabac, thankfully missing the barriers at the exit of the chicane. The initial impact, as the car spears into the left hand side of the exit from the tunnel, is savage.

The session resumes at 11:21, with just 39 minutes remaining this places extra pressure on the drivers. Understandably, there is a long queue at the end of the pitlane… Heidfeld leading the way.

Mercedes tells Schumacher that Rosberg was running low tyre pressures at the time of his accident.

The times tumble very, very quickly, Heidfeld, Petrov, d'Amborio, Alguersuari, Kobayashi, Alguersuari and Buemi taking it in turns to go second to Schumacher who improves to 18.566.

Alonso posts 18.150 to take the top spot, the Ferrari driver, like his teammate, who goes third (18.678), pushing the F150th Italia to the very limit.

Perez fastest on 18.058 and Petrov third but Alonso is already on a hot lap as is Button. The Englishman posts 17.130 but moments later his Spanish rival crosses the line at 15.924.

At half-time, only the Williams duo, Hamilton and Rosberg, haven't posted times. Webber is eighth (18.529) and Vettel sixteenth. Next time around however, the world champion improves to third with a 16.474.

Schumacher, now down in thirteenth, is the first driver to switch to the option rubber. He posts PBs in the first two sectors and goes quickest of all in the third, crossing the line at 16.161 to go second.

Vettel goes quickest in S2 and again in S3, the German nailing the top spot with a 15.423. Moments later Hamilton goes second with a 15.693. Both are on the prime tyre.

Webber improves to third (15.772) as Williams reports problems with Barrichello's gearbox. The Brazilian is currently eleventh, his teammate ninth.

Still on the prime tyre, Vettel improves to 15.245 as Pirelli reports that it believes the soft tyres are working well and should be good for 30 laps.

Alonso (option) goes quickest in S1, however he's only one second quicker than Vettel who was on the harder rubber. Alonso has to abort the lap after losing time behind Alguersuari who is crawling back to the pits with a puncture.

With no Toro Rossos to slow him down, Alonso takes the top spot with a 14.433, as Petrov gets very, very out of shape as he exits Rascasse.

With 5:00 on the clock it's: Alonso, Button, Massa, Vettel, Hamilton, Webber, Schumacher, Alguersuari, Buemi and di Resta.

There's another red flag when Liuzzi spears into the wall at Ste Devote. The Italian is OK but the car is badly damaged. It's his second crash of the weekend. This means that the Red Bulls don't get to do any significant running on the softer rubber.

It's an odd crash, the front of the Hispania appearing to bounce several times before clouting the barriers. The rear end of the cat totally disintegrating on impact. Another very scary accident - proof of just how unforgiving this circuit is.

The session resumes at 11:58, leaving the drivers with just about one flying lap. Then again, with 20 drivers on track there are unlikely to be any improvements.

Sure enough, the session ends with no significant improvements, Alonso quickest, ahead of Button, Massa Vettel, Schumacher, Hamilton, Webber, Alguersuari, Buemi and Perez.

Di Resta is eleventh, ahead of Barrichello, Maldonado, Kobayashi, Petrov, Heidfeld, Sutil, Kovalainen, Glock, d'Ambrosio, Trulli, Liuzzi, Karthikeyan and Rosberg.

To check out our Monaco qualifying gallery, click here.

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Published: 28/05/2011
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