Nico Rosberg put Williams at the top of the practice timesheets once again as preparations for the Monaco Grand Prix kicked off with the traditional nuance of Thursday practice.
The German overcame setup problems in the morning to pace quickest in the afternoon, edging out McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton by two tenths of a second.
“We had a difficult start to the weekend and I really didn’t feel comfortable in the car because of a simple lack of grip to begin with,” Rosberg explained.
“So we made plenty of set-up changes and we found a significant improvement. By the end of P2, I was much happier and I would say there is more in the car as I had traffic and never really had a clean lap.”
Lewis Hamilton took heart from his performance around the Monte Carlo circuit targeting a top five grid slot for the race.
“Driving around Monaco is a spectacular sensation – you can’t compare it to any other circuit,” he revelled afterwards.
“You get such a huge buzz here; I love this place it reminds me how much I love this sport, why I love racing and why I love Formula 1. From today’s performance, I think Q3 is definitely possible on Saturday. I’m optimistic about shooting for the top five I hope we can get there.”
Rubens Barrichello, who ran strongly in the morning session to set the pace, wound up third quickest, while Brawn GP teammate Jenson Button confirmed that the team would again be fighting at the front.
Button said: “We are going in the right direction following this afternoon’s practice session however this morning proved quite challenging for me. I had rear locking in the low speed corners and understeer in the high speed corners and didn’t feel quite comfortable in the car.”
“However we were able to make some good set-up changes this afternoon and my last runs on the softer tyres were much better. Achieving a good balance is very important here so we are going in the right direction. If we can keep making improvements then it should be a good weekend to come.
Felipe Massa underlined Ferrari’s continued progress with fifth place, ahead of Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) and Kimi Raikkonen in the sister F60.
BMW’s Robert Kubica had a problematic session as he became the second driver this weekend to suffer an engine failure.
“This was a disappointing practice day,” commented BMW Sauber’s Head of Engineering, Willy Rampf. “The car’s performance is a long way behind what we were expecting.”
“On top of that, due to technical problems, we lost valuable time for setting up the cars. Robert?s engine failure happened during the last planned running of this engine on a Friday. Therefore, the failure doesn?t impact on the number of engines we can use over the rest of the season. Of course the failure cost Robert valuable time when he should have been working on his car?s set-up.”
1 Nico Rosberg Williams 1:15.243 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 0:00.202 3 Rubens Barrichello Brawn 0:00.347 4 Jenson Button Brawn 0:00.531 5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 0:00.589 6 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 0:00.604 7 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren 0:00.741 8 Kimi RÃ¤ikkÃ¶nen Ferrari 0:00.742 9 Kazuki Nakajima Williams 0:01.017 10 Nelson Piquet Renault 0:01.043 11 Fernando Alonso Renault 0:01.309 12 Mark Webber Red Bull 0:01.335 13 Adrian Sutil Force India 0:01.432 14 Jarno Trulli Toyota 0:01.672 15 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 0:01.740 16 Sebastien Bourdais Toro Rosso 0:01.809 17 Timo Glock Toyota 0:01.866 18 Nick Heidfeld BMW 0:01.866 19 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India 0:02.261 20 Robert Kubica BMW