Thursday morning set the Monaco weekend up as a battle between Fernando Alonso's Ferrari, star underdog Robert Kubica's Renault, and the Red Bulls.
It was Alonso who emerged in front in the first session, but by only 0.073 seconds over Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull, and with Kubica just 0.016s further back. The 0.4s gap to Mark Webber in fourth was largely due to traffic, too.
Robert Kubica was quick throughout practice © LAT
The McLarens were back in a low-key seventh and eighth, sandwiched by the Mercedes.
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Matt Beer started freelancing for Autosport.com in the first week of its existence in 1999, and spent the next decade-and-a-half dovetailing increasing amounts of time contributing to it with UK national reporting, driver and team PR, freelance for organisations including ITV, BMW, Autocourse and the FIA Institute and a parallel career co-managing award-winning Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatres.
He stopped being stubborn and became Autosport.com's deputy editor in April 2014. Matt also oversees Haymarket's talent development programme for emerging motorsport writers and escapes to cover Formula Ford 1600 races whenever possible.