Daniel Ricciardo set a new Formula 1 track record around the streets of Monaco as he led a Red Bull 1-2 during Thursday’s opening practice session. Last year’s pole position time was beaten by Ricciardo as teams evaluated Pirelli’s new-for-2018 Hypersoft tyres in warm and sunny conditions in the 90-minute session. Ricciardo’s team-mate Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton had exchanged honours atop the timesheets, while Ricciardo was skewered by traffic in the final sector. Ricciardo, though, re-emerged to move to within a tenth of his team-mate before overhauling him altogether, winding up on a 1:12.126.
The Australian’s time was half-a-tenth up on Kimi Raikkonen’s pole-winning effort from 12 months ago. Max Verstappen finished 0.154s behind Ricciardo and is under investigation for allegedly re-joining the circuit in an unsafe manner, having locked up heavily into Sainte Devote.
Scuderia Ferrari, which took a 1-2 last year in both qualifying and the race, was a low-key fourth and fifth, with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen nine-tenths adrift of Daniel Ricciardo.
However, one-second off the pace surely is not representative of where the SF71-Hs really will be come Saturday, with the Scuderia tending to play themselves in gently to race weekends. According to the circuit notes, Sebastian Vettel completed a 25-lap run on the hypersofts as the chequered flag falls on the session, which means that the long run will certainly be very useful data for the Maranello team, even if those hypersoft tyres won’t be any good for further use.
Thursday’s second 90-minute practice session is scheduled for 15:00.