LEWIS Hamilton broke the record for the fastest lap ever recorded at the iconic track at Monaco today, only for Sebastian Vettel to beat it.
Hamilton’s time of 1:13:425 beat the record of 1:13.622 set by Daniel Ricciardo in 2016.
The triple world champion, who can equal the 65 career pole positions of boyhood idol Ayrton Senna in Saturday’s qualifying, was fastest in morning practice ahead of Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix.
But then in the afternoon Vettel, a four times world champion with Red Bull who leads Hamilton by six points after five races, set an ever faster mark, in a time of 1:12.720.
The Ferrari driver is hoping to end his team’s long drought in the most glamorous — and slowest – race on the calendar with a first Ferrari win in the Mediterranean principality since Michael Schumacher in 2001.
Mercedes struggled to keep up with the pace and Hamilton finished eighth and Valtteri Bottas in tenth.
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany waves to the crowd after the second free practice
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Hamitlon complained over the radio of being unable to get heat into the tires.
Pirelli had initially nominated the minimum tyre pressures as 19 psi and 18 psi on the front and rear tyres respectively, but lowered that yesterday to 17 and 16.5.
The Ferrari car is understood to be better at heating up the tyres at lower pressures while Hamilton complained about struggling to get them up to temperature, a problem confirmed by team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
“Getting lap one out of the tyres for us is impossible,” Bottas said.
“We need a few more warm-up laps. I wish we had softer compounds.”
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton navigates the famous two-mile circuit
Britain’s Jenson Button returned to the cockpit as a McLaren stand-in for Fernando Alonso, who is competing at the Indianapolis 500.
The 2009 champion was 14th fastest in the morning, 1.529 off the pace, and completed 35 trouble-free laps in a solid performance for a driver who has not been in a Formula One car since last November.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third quickest in first practice, a positive development for the former champions, ahead of Hamilton’s Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas and Ricciardo in fifth.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson both failed to set a time, with the latter suffering a gearbox problem.
Monaco Grand Prix by numbers
- Lap length 2.074miles
- Race laps 78
- Race distance 161.734miles
- Maximum speed 180.2mph
- Distance from grid to turn one 111metres
- The first Monaco Grand Prix was run in 1929
- Ayrton Senna won the Monaco GP a record six times
- Four drivers have died on the Monaco track, most recently Lorenzo Bandini in 1967
This season’s F1 cars are wider and have higher levels of downforce — allowing them to have better cornering speeds around the twisty narrow road circuit.
“The most important thing is that you have to learn to walk before you run,” Hamilton said before his run in practice.
“You have to build up to the pace so that, by the time you work up to that second run in Q3, you’re at 100 percent.”
Practice in Monaco is always on a Thursday due to Friday, the usual day for first running on track at other races, being a rest day.
DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP TABLE
- Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari – 104 points
- Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 98 points
- Valtteri Bottas – Mercedes – 63 points
- Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 49 points
- Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull Racing – 37 points
- Max Verstappen – Red Bull Racing – 35 points
- Sergio Perez – Force India – 34 points
- Esteban Ocon – Force India – 19 points
- Felipe Massa – Williams – 18 points
- Carlos Sainz – Toro Rosso – 17 points
- Nico Hulkenburg – Renault – 14 points
- Romain Grosjean – Haas – 5 points
- Pascal Wehrlein – Sauber – 4 points
- Kevin Magnussen – Haas – 4 points
- Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso – 4 points