Ricciardo fastest in Monaco on day of crashes

Thu May 26, 2016 1:19pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

MONACO (Reuters) - Australian Daniel Ricciardo set the pace for Red Bull in Monaco Grand Prix practice on Thursday, with crashes and a loose drain cover putting safety back in the spotlight at Formula One's showcase race.

Ricciardo lapped the twisty harbourside circuit in a quickest time of one minute 14.607 seconds, 0.606 faster than triple champion Lewis Hamilton in the closest Mercedes with championship leader Nico Rosberg third.

"Come qualifying and race day Mercedes will turn it up but hopefully I can stay in front," said the Australian.

Hamilton was fastest in the morning with a lap of 1:15.537 on the new ultrasoft Pirelli tires making their debut this week.

The Briton, who collided with Rosberg in Spain 11 days ago and lags the German by 43 points after five races, is seeking to end his team mate's run of three successive Monaco wins but Ricciardo could be a threat to both.

"Generally it's been a really positive start. We've got everything we needed done in both sessions and our pace looks good, so hopefully that continues through the rest of the weekend," said Hamilton.

Red Bull had targeted Monaco as their best chance of victory this season, before Dutch teenager Max Verstappen won in Spain on his debut for the team.

Ricciardo has a new specification Renault engine for Sunday's race, which Verstappen will not get until the next race in Canada due to a shortage of parts.   Continued...

Formula One - Monaco Grand Prix - Monaco - 26/5/16. Red Bull Racing F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo attends the first practice.  REUTERS/Eric Gaillard