Vettel sets fastest ever lap at Monaco

Hamilton was well outpaced by his rival in second practice and he and the team were at a loss to explain why.

Lewis Hamilton will start from 12th after having problems with his tyres all through Saturday practice and qualifying.

The result left Hamilton somewhat miffed although team boss Toto Wolff had indicated a different auto set-up for the second session had been to blame.

So often the pacesetters during the week, Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas struggled with their vehicle set-up in the afternoon session to be eighth and 10th respectively. "Wider vehicle and wider tires - it makes the track more narrow I guess".

Hamilton and Vettel have won two races each this season, and the German has a six point cushion in the cumulative ranking on the triple world champion after five races.

At the Spanish GP two weeks ago, he was being held up by Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas and could not find a way past. As the ambient and track temperatures rose in the afternoon, it seems they stole some of the Mercedes' grip.

"What surprises me is that they did it on both cars". Even when they switched to the ultrasofts at the end of the session it made no appreciable difference.

"I think we had clean sessions on Thursday and this morning, no traffic", he said.

"We couldn't get it [the set-up] right on Lewis's auto, therefore he had a disastrous qualifying", Lauda told Sky Sports after the session.

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

"We had two smooth sessions", the Finnish driver said. The opportunity wasn't really there for me. It's a little bit surprising.

"We tried to go back with the set-up and it felt better but by that point we'd already put a lot of laps into the tyres".

KL: Formula 1 cars are pure thoroughbreds...fighter jets on wheels, if you will. Watching cars of that caliber speed through streets as narrow as the ones in Monaco is hair-raising, and those walls are always so close to grabbing you (as Luke mentioned: Lance Stroll learned that the hard way earlier in the weekend). Hamilton finished that in eighth place, with his teammate Valtteri Bottas down in 10th.

"We are looking pretty good at the moment", Ricciardo said. "But I think we can be encouraged by the pace and consistency that we were able to demonstrate in free practice one". Raikkonen, obediently, reminded reporters that both men raced for the same team - Ferrari.

The 2009 world champion is standing in for Fernando Alonso while the Spaniard races at the Indianapolis 500 this weekend. He was 14th fastest in the first session and 12th in the second.

Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne crashed with less than a minute to go in the second session and the resulting yellow warning flags forced Hammy to drastically slow down and lose out on a chance to squeeze into the top-10 grid decider.

"We've done enough races so we know what to do at the first corner", he added.

  • Joanne Flowers