Alonso in charge after Monaco Grand Prix practice

Monte Carlo: Fernando Alonso was the fastest man in the paddock on Thursday after topping the times during the second practice session for Sunday`s Monaco Grand prix.

The 29-year-old Ferrari driver, second quickest in the morning session, set a time of one minute 15.123 seconds at the Monte Carlo street circuit, over a tenth of a second quicker than his nearest rival and former team-mate Briton Lewis Hamilton of McLaren.

The Spaniard, who set the pace on the opening day at Monaco in 2010, looked strong in the morning session but narrowly lost out to German Sebastian Vettel in his high-flying Red Bull car after being held up by Mercedes driver German Nico Rosberg.

However, the double champion was in control for the duration of the afternoon, setting his fastest time on the supersoft Pirelli tyres midway through the session.

In spite of his performance, Alonso refused to get carried away and believes there is more to come from Red Bull, who wound up fifth and eighth fastest on Thursday.

"I think it`s only Friday [Thursday], so we need to see," said Alonso, "I think in five days things cannot change so much, so I expect Red Bull to be the favourite for qualifying and the race.

"But it`s true also that this is a very unique venue, so anything can happen. There is no room for mistakes so there is also this factor."

Second-fastest Hamilton, 25, champion in 2008, was marginally quicker than Rosberg, also 25, followed by Briton Jenson Button in the second McLaren who was fourth quickest.

Defending champion Vettel, said he was pleased with his performance despite finishing the day fifth fastest, but suggested that the track had not been as smooth as he had hoped.

"I think we had a good day so far." He said, "It was important to do a lot of laps here and I had a good feeling straight away. It is fun around here.”

"But it is a different track, very bumpy and very rough, and some places on the track they have resurfaced but I don`t think they have made it better. It is even worse. It is interesting."

Brazilian Felipe Massa was sixth in the second Ferrari followed by Seven-time champion German Michael Schumacher in the second Mercedes - over a second slower than his team-mate, as was Australian Mark Webber of Red Bull who was eighth fastest.

Germans Adrian Sutil of Force India and Nick Heidfeld of Renault were ninth and tenth fastest respectively.

Bureau Report

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