Bridgestone looking good, so far…

Bridgestone took a clean sweep of the first three positions in first qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix through the two Ferraris and Jenson Button's BAR-Honda. Thursday was warm if somewhat cloudy, temperatures are up today (Friday) and conditions look set to stay that way on Saturday

Bridgestone looking good, so far…

The Japanese have seven specifications of tyre in Monte Carlo and it seems that the softest of them has clearly been designed to hit back at Michelin, who won here last year by dint of a softer rubber despite none of their teams having the quickest car.

Further evidence of the Bridgestone strength was seventh quickest time from Giancarlo Fisichella's Jordan. The Italian always performs superbly in Monte Carlo but his lap was only fractionally slower than David Coulthard's McLaren/Michelin time and also split the Williams-BMW drivers.

Monaco, however, 'rubbers-in' more throughout a qualifying session, thereby handing more of a circuit advantage to those running later in the all-important Saturday session. Considering that, there is mileage in bringing virtually a pure qualifying tyre for the opening day.

"It looks like Bridgestone is stronger in qualifying than they were last year, but it is all dependent on track conditions and there may be a different story on Saturday with more rubber down," said Williams technical director Patrick Head.

His opposite number at McLaren, Adrian Newey, added on Thursday: "What we don't know is whether or not Ferrari can qualify and race with the tyre that they used today." Third-placed Jenson Button admitted that his front tyres had been graining a little by the time he got to Rascasse, the penultimate corner.

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