Ferrari shows the pace at Monaco GP as Mercedes struggles


Ferrari's Vettel, a four times world champion, heads into the weekend's showcase Monaco Grand Prix with a six point lead over Mercedes' triple title victor Hamilton after two race wins apiece in 2017.

Hamilton's lap was the fastest seen around the Monaco Grand Prix Circuit, beating last year's pole time by almost 0.2s.

Lewis Hamilton says matching his idol Ayrton Senna's tally of pole positions at this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix would feel "very unreal".

Even the normally inscrutable Raikkonen sounded upbeat. "I could have said no if I wanted to, as we all can - no one wants a racing driver who doesn't want to drive".

Autosport revealed during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend that Ferrari has adopted Mercedes-style finger holes behind the steering wheel on Sebastian Vettel's SF70H, in a bid to help improve starts.

By contrast, the mood inside the Mercedes camp was likely to be one of concern.

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Hamilton placed eighth, 1.15 seconds adrift, and Bottas was 1.18 back in 10th as Mercedes got their auto set-up wrong when they switched to the quicker ultra-soft tires.

His Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas laboured in 10th, also without showing his true pace during a busy session interrupted by one red-flagged stoppage when Frenchman Esteban Ocon crashed into the barriers at the entry to Casino Square in his Force India. "When the auto isn't quite right, you lose a lot of time in Monaco".

"It's pretty much a never ending story with the starts and little things around that area, but we were quite OK".

While the German team looked to be the class of the field in FP1 yesterday, in the second session both drivers were clearly struggling.

"I am confident that we have the tools so it's up to us to find the right set-up to get into groove and have the confidence".

"I don't know what happened to them [Mercedes] today, it was a bit weird", Vettel said. It gives Mercedes a welcome extra day to sort out what went wrong. I'm sure there's a reason and they'll be back on Saturday. "We're looking forward to a real fight".

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"Monaco is always special - if you could have the freedom to choose any race on the calendar that you would want to win, it would without doubt be Monaco", Vettel said in an interview with the official F1 website.

Hamilton, however, will be certain to mount a fierce challenge for victory after winning in Spain two weeks ago and knows that he can not afford to allow Vettel any chance to build up momentum.

The session was stopped for about 10 minutes midway through after a heavy crash for Williams rookie Lance Stroll.

There has been speculation that the Briton was not overwhelmed at the prospect, with former champions McLaren the only team yet to score a point in five races this season, but he said that was not the case.

Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff admitted Mercedes got their set-up wrong in Practice Two for the Monaco GP as the Silver Arrows saw their pace disappear on Thursday afternoon.

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