Hamilton quickest at Paul Ricard

Massa_TurkeyLewis Hamilton topped the time sheets on the opening day of testing at the Paul Ricard test circuit where the Formula One teams are preparing for the Monaco Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver paced 1m 05.660 seconds around the 3.8km circuit half a second quicker than Ferrari s Kimi Raikkonen despite completing fewer laps than anyone else.

The Paul Ricard circuit at Le Castelett was set up in its 2D SC Short configuration providing the teams and drivers with a high downforce arena in which to test aerodynamic components ahead of Monte-Carlo.

The red flag came out twice during the session in response to incidents involving Toro Rosso s Sebastian Vettel and Renault test driver Luca di Grassi. Hamilton, Kubica and Glock were struck by technical gremlins and stopped at the end of the pit-lane.

Kimi Raikkonen lapped second quickest after completing 103 laps, Ferrari confirming their intentions to use the ‘nose hole in Monte Carlo with the component appearing on the Finn s F2008 on his final run.

BMW Sauber spent the day fine tuning their aerodynamics, suspension and engine electronics with Robert Kubica finishing the day third quickest despite taking a precautionary engine change after his F1.08 suffered an oil leak.

Red Bull s Mark Webber had a productive day spending early parts of the session in the top spot before finishing fourth at the close. The Australian was one of the few drivers to run both the ‘soft and ‘super soft tyres the compound suppliers Bridgestone will bring to Monaco despite the fact that Paul Ricard typically demands a harder compound.

Sebastian Vettel had his first outing in Toro Rosso s new STR3 car a chassis modelled on the Adrian Newey designed Red Bull RB4 the German winding up fifth quickest after completing 91 laps.

Williams were the latest team to adopt Red Bull s ‘shark-fin engine cover, Nico Rosberg lapping sixth quickest in the modified FW30.

Honda s RA108 in the hands of Alex Wurz emerged from the pit-lane sporting even more visible ‘Dumbo-style front wings and Timo Glock also took to the track in an aerodynamically revised Toyota TF108.

Renault test driver Luca di Grassi completed 146 laps and wound up tenth just under two seconds off pace-setter Lewis Hamilton.

1.  HAMILTON      McLaren       1m05.600s
2.  RAIKKONEN     Ferrari       1m06.098s
3.  KUBICA        BMW           1m06.177s
4.  WEBBER        Red Bull      1m06.348s
5.  VETTEL        Toro Rosso    1m06.372s
6.  ROSBERG       Williams      1m06.571s
7.  WURZ          Honda         1m06.681s
8.  GLOCK         Toyota        1m06.936s
9.  LIUZZI        Force India   1m07.346s
10. DI GRASSI     Renault       1m07.430s