Vettel tames Monaco streets in first practice

Last Updated: May 26, 2011, 16:56 PM IST

Monaco: Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel tamed Monaco`s metal-fenced streets on Thursday with the fastest time in first practice for Sunday`s glamour race.

The 23-year-old Red Bull driver, alone among the championship frontrunners in still seeking his first win in the principality, lapped the tight and twisty circuit with a best time of one minute 16.619 seconds in the closing seconds.

The German`s Australian team mate Mark Webber, winner last year in the Mediterranean sunshine, did not set a time after a gear selection problem sidelined him for most of the session.

Webber did complete three installation laps.

Michael Schumacher, the seven-times world champion and five-times Monaco winner, ended his session eight minutes early when he went into the tyre wall at the resurfaced Ste Devote corner at the end of the pit straight.

The German, who locked up on the approach to the corner and then tried in vain to steer the Mercedes down the escape road, still ended up as the 10th fastest overall on a brilliant and hot morning.

Ferrari`s Fernando Alonso, twice a Monaco winner with Renault and McLaren, was second quickest on the timesheets with a lap 0.113 slower than Vettel`s.

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, a Monaco resident whose boyhood school is a stone`s throw from the harbourside paddock, was third fastest ahead of Ferrari`s Brazilian Felipe Massa and then the McLaren pair of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

Venezuela`s Pastor Maldonado, always quick around the circuit in junior series, was seventh for struggling Williams who have yet to score a point in five races.

The session was red-flagged for about five minutes when water began seeping on to the pit straight, seemingly from a leaking pipe beneath the asphalt.

Officials inspected the surface and produced a long implement to turn off a hidden stopcock before allowing practice to resume.

Vettel, winner of four of the five races so far, leads the championship with 118 points to Hamilton`s 77 and Webber`s 67.

Bureau Report