25 May 2018

Hartley happy with his start at Monaco

8:23 am on 25 May 2018

The New Zealand Formula One driver Brendon Hartley says there's still a lot of work to be done to make the most of his positive start to the Monaco Grand Prix.

NZ F1 driver Brendon Hartley.

NZ F1 driver Brendon Hartley. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Hartley ended the first day of practice with the 11th fastest time in his Toro Rosso.

"It was a really positive day, it's awesome to drive around Monaco for the first time in a Formula 1 car, it's a special feeling around here, dancing from wall to wall."

"In terms of performance, I think straight away we were in the top 10 on the Hypersoft. We finished the morning P12, but running on the harder compound tyre which looked positive. In the afternoon, I was 11th on the Hypersoft which is promising, it's very close to the cars ahead and also the cars behind."

"We're definitely in the fight, and the goal has to be Q3. It's tricky here with traffic, you have to be clever with strategy in qualifying - and a bit lucky too! I'm happy to get the new updated aero parts that Pierre (team-mate Pierre Gasly) was running in the first two sessions. The team has done a good job to bring some updates here and all of the emphasis now goes into getting us as far up the grid as we can!"

Daniel Ricciardo lapped Monaco's streets in record time as Red Bull dominated the practice.

The 28-year-old Australian set track record times in both sessions with a best of just under 1 minute and 12 seconds.

That was point three of a second quicker than Kimi Raikkonen's 2017 pole position for Ferrari, the previous fastest around the Mediterranean principality's unforgiving streets and harbourside.

Dutch team mate Max Verstappen was second quickest in both sessions as Red Bull lived up to expectations that they would be the team to beat on a tight and twisty circuit where aerodynamics matter more than engine power.

Verstappen, 20, was summoned to see the stewards after reversing onto the track in the opening session when he ran off at the first Sainte Devote corner, but they decided to take no further action.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton and closest title rival Sebastian Vettel were third and fourth respectively in the morning before reversing those positions in the afternoon.

Hamilton leads Vettel, last year's winner in Monaco, by 17 points after five races.

Drivers had predicted before the session started that lap records would tumble thanks to the new hypersoft tyres which are making their competitive debut this weekend and track resurfacing.

Australian F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo.

Australian F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Ricciardo was third in Monaco last year, after taking pole and finishing second in 2016, and is aiming to take the final step on Sunday.

McLaren's Fernando Alonso, who missed last year's race to compete in the Indianapolis 500 instead, had a difficult opening session with his car suffering problems with its brake-by-wire system.

The double world champion had a better afternoon and finished ninth fastest.

Russian rookie Sergey Sirotkin hit the wall in his Williams in the morning, limping back with a puncture, but went out again and was 10th fastest. He then dropped back to 15th in second practice.

Father and son world champions Nico and Keke Rosberg, both retired, entertained the crowd between the sessions by lapping the circuit in their title-winning cars.