Vettel on top in second practice

Mercedes title rival Lewis Hamilton had been fastest before lunch.

Behind the leading three, Lewis Hamilton had to settle for P5 after his initial run, with Valtteri Bottas just a little ahead.

The afternoon proved to be a different story.

Kimi Raikkonen ended up third fastest, just over half-a-second off the pace with Kvyat just over half a tenth further back.

"We didn't have the greatest day", said Hamilton.

The Ferrari driver recorded the fastest-ever lap around Monaco's famous streets to set the pace in Thursday's second practice with a 1:12.720s.

Last year's race victor Lewis Hamilton, who had topped the morning season ahead of Vettel, failed to improve on that time in the afternoon and trailed Vettel by more than a second in eighth, with teammate Valtteri Bottas 10th.

"Something's wrong and we are just trying to understand why the tyres aren't working". This was a problem they hoped upgrades in Barcelona had addressed and the win there suggested they had been successful.

Hamilton's Mercedes team will be left scratching their heads following a below-par display which leaves them with plenty of work to do ahead of qualifying on Saturday and latterly the race.

Vettel too was perplexed as to the reasons behind Merecedes' drop in form.

"I am carrying them in my heart this weekend", said Hamilton.

He said: "I struggled to find my feet, because you have to brake so much later than I'm used to here in Monaco and carry so much more speed". "In the morning maybe I was a bit wild, touching the walls a couple of times, but the afternoon seemed a bit better".

"I want him to be his best when he gets in the auto so I don't have any intention of playing psychological wars outside the vehicle", he said. That gives them more time to work on the auto, spread over two days, rather than having to do everything tonight.

"Ferrari have done the best job in understanding that so far this season and have designed a auto that appears to accommodate that quite well".

Within Mercedes there is a strong feeling that changes made to the set-up for the afternoon had been responsible for creating the performance aberration.

It's the most prestigious and photogenic stop on the Formula One circuit, and likely the one that gets most of the attention.

Other than that it was an incident-free session - a rare occurrence at Monaco - save for Nico Hulkenberg and Marcus Ericsson who were hit by technical gremlins which prevented any meaningful running.

"We will have a good think about it tomorrow in order to put things right for Saturday". I think we still do, and have to do, something to the vehicle to be more competitive overall in the race.

Briton Jenson Button, back from retirement to replace Spaniard Fernando Alonso who is racing in the Indianapolis 500, was 14th for McLaren Honda, one second and two places behind his team-mate Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne.

Nevertheless, the transition appeared seamless for Button, even though he has not driven an F1 auto in seven months.

  • Julie Sanders