Monaco GP, Practice Two: Daniel Ricciardo leads Red Bull record pace
Track records fall again as Ricciardo heads Verstappen in consecutive Red Bull one-two; Ferrari and Mercedes over half a second adrift; McLaren bounce back to top 10 but Haas struggle
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 11/12/18 12:23pm
Daniel Ricciardo led an ominous opening-day charge from Red Bull as championship front-runners Mercedes and Ferrari were left trailing at the end of Thursday practice at the Monaco GP.
Ricciardo and team-mate Max Verstappen, who was nearly two tenths behind his team-mate on the timesheet, were by far the quickest drivers over a single lap in Practice Two with the first non-Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari, a distant 0.572 seconds adrift.
There was little to choose between Ferrari and Mercedes, with championship leader Lewis Hamilton just a tenth further behind Vettel in fourth, but Red Bull appeared to confirm expectations that they would be the team to beat on F1's slowest and narrowest circuit.
Ricciardo and Verstappen each broke the track's outright lap record during the course of the afternoon session, with the Australian ultimately winning out with a 1:11.841 later into P2 than usual. The debut of F1's new hypersoft tyres, a compound predicted to be 0.8s quicker than the ultrasofts, has contributed to the immediate lowering of last year's 1:12.1 Monaco pole time.
While the pace of the three teams over the heavier-fuel race runs was rather closer, the evidence of Thursday suggests Ferrari and Mercedes have work to do on Monaco's Friday 'rest' day to bring themselves back into play in time for qualifying on Saturday.
"Red Bull are just mighty around here. They really look like they have a tremendous amount of grip and confidence," said Sky F1's Martin Brundle while watching trackside.
Paul di Resta concurred: "Danny Ric is looking right in the zone. It's theirs to lose from what I can see at the moment. Ferrari and Mercedes look like they're struggling, even on the long runs."
During the end-of-session race simulations, Hamilton radioed in to tell his Mercedes engineers that his car felt "unsafe" with his tyres towards the end of his life as he tackled understeer and oversteer.
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas completed the top six ahead of the usual gap back to the head of the midfield.
But this time there was no Haas car leading the challenge behind as Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, who has a three-place grid penalty for Saturday, struggled with their cars and finished well outside the top 10.
That left Nico Hulkenberg seventh for Renault, although the German was only just ahead of the McLarens as the Woking team fought back from a difficult opening session. On this occasion, it was Stoffel Vandoorne ahead of Fernando Alonso in eighth and ninth positions respectively.
The other Renault of Carlos Sainz rounded out the top 10, but Honda-powered Toro Rosso also ran promisingly with under-pressure Brendon Hartley their lead runner in 11th.
On the shortest track of the whole season in which qualifying results generally prove decisive, little over half a second separated seventh through to 17th places.
Monaco GP Practice Two Timesheet
|1. Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:11.841|
|2. Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+0.194|
|3. Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+0.572|
|4. Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+0.695|
|5. Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||+0.702|
|6. Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+0.801|
|7. Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||+1.206|
|8. Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren||+1.236|
|9. Fernando Alonso||McLaren||+1.274|
|10. Carlos Sainz||Renault||+1.359|
|11. Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso||+1.381|
|12. Sergio Perez||Force India||+1.529|
|13. Esteban Ocon||Force India||+1.541|
|14. Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||+1.569|
|15. Sergey Sirotkin||Williams||+1.706|
|16. Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+1.731|
|17. Charles Leclerc||Sauber||+1.734|
|18. Romain Grosjean||Haas||+1.922|
|19. Lance Stroll||Williams||+2.170|
|20. Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||+2.332|