Nico Rosberg quickest in Monaco first practice

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Nico Rosberg has finished quickest in the first practice session for this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, finishing ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and the Lotus of Romain Grosjean.

Mercedes are expected to excel around the tight and twisting streets of Monaco, with the W04 car having good one-lap pace. Although this result may come as little surprise to some, Rosberg will still be pleased to have ran so strongly today. Many drivers struggled with their Pirelli tires, locking up heavily, and Adrian Sutil had a scrape with the barrier at Ste Devote, giving his mechanics a bit of extra work in order to get him out for the second session.

At the top, the drivers were very closely matched, with Alonso, Grosjean and Felipe Massa lapping within two-tenths of Rosberg’s time. Lewis Hamilton underlined Mercedes’ pace by finishing 5th. McLaren and Red Bull were less fortunate, finishing around 1 second off the leaders, although Jenson Button and Sergio Perez will be pleased to have made the top ten. Last year’s winner, Mark Webber, finished 7th, whilst Pastor Maldonado produced the stand-out performance of the day by finishing 6th. This could mark a great turning point for Williams should they continue their form into qualifying and the race this weekend.

Caterham pulled clear of Marussia at the back, with their upgrades appearing to finally have given them a definite edge. Giedo van der Garde continued his good form from the Spanish GP by finishing just two-tenths off Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo. However, with Marussia also finishing within three-tenths of their closest rivals, it appears the battle at the back is only set to intensify.

At the front though, it all seems to be about Mercedes. Rosberg and Hamilton will be keen on continuing this form into FP2 later today before the rest day tomorrow. The weekend will resume as normal on Saturday, with the forecast suggesting that rain could yet make an appearance for the race on Sunday.

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.