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Barrichello tops first Monaco practice

Rubens Barrichello, Brawn GP, Monaco GPRubens Barrichello set the pace in the first practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix as the Brawn GP driver aimed to put behind him the disappointment of Barcelona.

Barrichello, who set his best time two thirds of the way through the session, outpaced Ferrari's Felipe Massa by 0.310s, while world champion Lewis Hamilton was third fastest.

With an emphasis on track time and the need for drivers to dial themselves in as well as their cars, there was for once only a brief wait between the usual installation laps and running proper on Thursday morning.

First out, naturally, was Toro Rosso's rookie Sebastien Buemi, whose long sequence of laps saw him occupy the top spot almost until the 30-minute mark, at which point he was eclipsed by Toyota's Timo Glock.

The German's 1m20.548s was never likely to last however, as the circuit's grip improved with more rubber continuously being laid down, and very quickly Ferrari's Massa moved ahead.

Glock didn't go down without a fight though and the pair began an fascinating battle at the top, each replacing the other at the top for several laps running. That was until Massa and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen firmly established themselves at the top.

It stayed that way until halfway through the session when 2008 winner Hamilton, always inspired at Monaco, moved to the top with a spectacularly and characteristically lairy lap - 1m18.376s

As if to prove that was no fluke, the Briton then improved on that with an excellent 1m17.578s effort.

Hamilton led the way from Massa, Williams's Nico Rosberg and Red Bull's Mark Webber until Rubens Barrichello thumped in a smooth lap that moved him to the top for Brawn with 25 minutes to go. The Brazilian then improved again to 1m17.189s.

The frantic action, oddly, then suddenly stopped, following an engine failure suffered by Sebastian Vettel which set up a dramatic final ten minutes as several drivers broke the lull by rejoining the track on super-soft Bridgestones.

Ironically though, the fact that nearly the entire field came on track all at once, meant that they all tripped over one another, despite the best efforts of Hamilton, Button and Rosberg, allowing Barrichello to remain on top.

Behind the top three was Heikki Kovalainen, who set his laps in the dying seconds of the session, ahead of Raikkonen and Williams driver Kazuki Nakajima.

Rosberg ended up seventh after his final lap was apparently thwarted by Hamilton, while Button, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber completed the top ten.

Other than Vettel's engine failure, other incidents included Hamilton, Kovalainen and Button all running wide at St Devote. And, according to reports, a fire extinguisher going off in the pitlane.

Pos  Driver       Team                       Time              Laps
 1.  Barrichello  Brawn-Mercedes        (B)  1:17.189            25
 2.  Massa        Ferrari               (B)  1:17.499  + 0.310   31
 3.  Hamilton     McLaren-Mercedes      (B)  1:17.578  + 0.389   25
 4.  Kovalainen   McLaren-Mercedes      (B)  1:17.686  + 0.497   29
 5.  Raikkonen    Ferrari               (B)  1:17.839  + 0.650   30
 6.  Nakajima     Williams-Toyota       (B)  1:18.000  + 0.811   29
 7.  Rosberg      Williams-Toyota       (B)  1:18.024  + 0.835   27
 8.  Button       Brawn-Mercedes        (B)  1:18.080  + 0.891   27
 9.  Alonso       Renault               (B)  1:18.283  + 1.094   30
10.  Webber       Red Bull-Renault      (B)  1:18.348  + 1.159   22
11.  Buemi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari    (B)  1:18.695  + 1.506   36
12.  Piquet       Renault               (B)  1:19.204  + 2.015   36
13.  Vettel       Red Bull-Renault      (B)  1:19.233  + 2.044   16
14.  Bourdais     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    (B)  1:19.255  + 2.066   30
15.  Fisichella   Force India-Mercedes  (B)  1:19.534  + 2.345   27
16.  Kubica       BMW-Sauber            (B)  1:19.560  + 2.371   20
17.  Heidfeld     BMW-Sauber            (B)  1:19.579  + 2.390   22
18.  Sutil        Force India-Mercedes  (B)  1:19.600  + 2.411   23
19.  Glock        Toyota                (B)  1:19.698  + 2.509   23
20.  Trulli       Toyota                (B)  1:19.831  + 2.642   28

All Timing Unofficial
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