Vettel on top after second practice, Hamilton eighth


A blistering lap from Sebastian Vettel put him half a second clear at the top of the timesheets in second practice for the Monaco Grand Prix as Mercedes struggled for pace. As he's pointed out himself he lived in Monte Carlo for 17 years and the race remains arguably the most glamorous and iconic on the entire Formula One circuit.

Despite setting the fastest time of the day by almost 0.5s to nearest rival Daniel Ricciardo, Vettel reckons Ferrari still has time to find in qualifying and the race.

"P1 was really good, the vehicle was feeling great", Hamilton continued.

"I was pretty happy in the afternoon", Vettel said.

Even the normally inscrutable Raikkonen sounded upbeat. "We need to figure out why", said Hamilton.

Autosport revealed during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend that Ferrari has adopted Mercedes-style finger holes behind the steering wheel on Sebastian Vettel's SF70H, in a bid to help improve starts.

By contrast, the mood inside the Mercedes camp was likely to be one of concern. His Finnish team-mate Valtteri Bottas was 10th, also without showing his true pace during a busy session interrupted by one red-flagged stoppage when Frenchman Esteban Ocon crashed into the barriers at the entry to Casino Square in his Force India vehicle.

Ricciardo started on pole position in Monaco past year and was second fastest in practice this Thursday around the twisting street circuit, where engine power is less of a factor. "We committed to the set-up as it takes longer than a session to change and we made a decision to push through and collect some data", he told Sky Sports television.

Buoyed by his win at the last round in Spain, having come back after an indifferent weekend in Russian Federation when he could not find the right set-up for his vehicle, Hamilton had been optimistic that Mercedes had moved further forward and were well-prepared for Monaco.

Team boss Wolff accepted Mercedes had made a mistake with their set-up changes but said they had to stick with it throughout the session in order to get track running. "It's a very mixed-up grid at the moment which I'm sure will all change again on Saturday", Button said.

Monaco is the exception in the F1 calendar, with drivers getting a day off on Friday.

In 2016 he finished Thursday's second practice quickest, before he claimed pole on Saturday afternoon, and second in practice heading into the Saturday this year is a good sign. But set-up changes between the two sessions in Monaco have taken the auto in the opposite direction.

"Practice one was actually really good and we were quickest, but then in second practice we just struggled to extract the grip from the tyres and we were sliding around a lot".

"We've got some work to do ahead of Saturday".

Hamilton has 64 pole positions to his name, one less than F1 great Ayrton Senna, but only one of those in Monaco - where he won a year ago and in 2008.

Both have won twice, five races into an intriguing Formula One season, and Vettel leads Hamilton by six points.

Practice was red-flagged with 36 minutes to go when Lance Stroll crashed at Casino Square.

Button finished the day a respectable 12th, four hundredths of a second slower than Stoffel Vandoorne in the sister auto.

However, on a mixed day for Mercedes, Hamilton ended the day with the eighth fastest time in the afternoon session of 1m 13.873s, with Valtteri 10th quickest with 1m 13.902s.