Practice 1: Webber steals the show

Mark Webber produced a last gasp quickest lap to top the first session of free practice for the Monaco Grand Prix. If the opening hour is anything to go by, the 61st Monaco could be one of the most competitive for a long time. There were no fewer than seven different makes of car in the first eight places, with just 1.0s covering the top 10 drivers

Practice 1: Webber steals the show

Until Webber's time in the final minute of the session, it was a British 1-2 at the top of the time sheet, with Jenson Button's BAR-Honda best (1m16.47s) fractionally quicker than David Coulthard's 1m16.50s with the first McLaren.

Webber, of course, benefited from the two hours of free testing before first practice, as did Renault, who had Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli in fourth and fifth places.

Michael Schumacher, who so often dominates the first Monaco session on a typically dusty and slippery surface before the track 'rubbers in' had to be content with sixth fastest time for Ferrari, marginally clear of Giancarlo Fisichella's Jordan. Juan Pablo Montoya's Williams, Kimi Raikkonen and Rubens Barrichello completed the top 10.

Surprisingly for the first hour in Monaco, nobody did any serious damage. Ralph Firman and Justin Wilson both had a trip down the Sainte-Devote escape road, a number of drivers missed the harbour front chicane, and Jarno Trulli clipped the barrier out of the final corner, but that was about the extent of it.

Webber, Button, Coulthard and Alonso all lapped under Montoya's 2002 pole position time, which was a surprise despite the 27m shorter lap and the revisions at the Swimming Pool complex and Rascasse. Often the dusty first day track is around 3.0s slower than in final qualifying, although this year we won't get the opportunity to assess the one-lap pace of the cars on Saturday afternoon.

This time, today's first qualifying session will see the cars in optimum trim for the only time during the weekend. The fact that the street circuit seems to get quicker relative to other tracks throughout the all-important second Saturday qualifying session, will mean that drivers will be doubly keen to coax the utmost from their chassis this afternoon, so as to run as late as possible in the Saturday session.

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Thursday Free Practice - Monaco GP

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