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.

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”