Ricciardo quickest in Monaco practice as Red Bull dominate

Daniel Ricciardo in action at the Monaco Grand Prix

Daniel Ricciardo headed team-mate Max Verstappen to a Red Bull one-two in both practice sessions at the Monaco Grand Prix.

The Australian saw off the Dutchman by 0.194 seconds in the second session on Thursday afternoon as both enjoyed a comfortable margin over their rivals.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was third from title rival Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton was 0.123secs behind the German but had a messy session and appeared to have more pace in the car.

The world champion, who has a 17-point lead over Vettel after five races, made a few errors that compromised his overall lap time.

But there will be questions as to whether Mercedes are struggling in Monaco for the second year in succession after he said over the radio that something did not feel right while he was doing a race-simulation run on the super-soft tyre, the hardest of the three compounds available this weekend.

Running in race trim on the hyper-soft, Vettel appeared to have a pace advantage over Hamilton of about 0.3secs, although practice times are not always an accurate measure of actual form.

It was Red Bull, though, who dominated the day, with both Ricciardo and Verstappen immediately getting to grips with the demanding track.

Verstappen appeared to have the advantage in second practice until Ricciardo edged clear as he strung together a series of laps on the hyper-softs a little later than Verstappen’s run.

Red Bull have flattered to deceive in practice a number of times already this season, but there are signs that this weekend might be different.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg was seventh fastest, ahead of the McLarens of Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso, the latter’s day compromised slightly by losing most of the first session because of a brake-by-wire issue.

Haas, who impressed at the last race in Spain with Kevin Magnussen finishing sixth, well clear of the other midfield runners, appeared to be struggling, the Dane 16th with team-mate Romain Grosjean two places further back.

There was only 0.5secs between Hulkenberg in seventh and Sauber’s Charles Leclerc in 17th.

Behind the scenes, Ferrari are the subject of an investigation into the operation of the energy store in their hybrid system by governing body the FIA, who are concerned that it could be used in an unscrupulous way.

Despite its concerns, the FIA has no evidence it has been used in such a manner and insiders say the FIA, after an inquiry lasting more than a month, is moving towards a position where it is satisfied there is no chance the energy store can be used in a way it should not be.

Nico Rosberg and father Keke

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