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Page last updated at 13:53 GMT, Thursday, 21 May 2009 14:53 UK

Monaco GP practice as it happened


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By Caroline Cheese

1452: And now it is time to go. Keep an eye out for practice highlights on this here website in a little while. I shall see you on Saturday at 0930 BST sharp for third practice followed by what I confidently predict will be an explosive qualifying session. Bye.

1448: Nearly time to go, but before I do, a quick shameless plug for Jake Humphrey's latest blog - it's an absolute Christmas cracker, featuring a behind-the-scenes video in which you see Jake getting changed. If that doesn't send the hits shooting through the roof, I don't know what will.
Jake's blog

Get involved on 606
From Spitfire_F1 on 606: "Really intriguing as to who is going to be on top this weekend. McLaren and Ferrari look quick, so do Brawn, Williams have gone well at Monaco in recent years as has Webber. Red Bull have had a troublesome Friday but will surely be there come Saturday/Sunday."
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1440: As that last - rather cruel - text alludes to, it's not exactly happy days in the Toyota garage. They seem to have gone off the boil in a big way, managing 14th and 18th quickest in that session after a disappointing Spanish Grand Prix. I'm going to stick with Tiny Timo though. I'm stubborn like that.

Text in your views on 81111
From anon via text on 81111: "Re 0929: Glock for the win? You sure Cheese... Haha."

1435: After a quiet session, Jenson Button still manages to pop up in fourth behind his Brawn team-mate. Not bad. Next comes the first Ferrari of Felipe Massa, with Kimi Raikkonen eighth behind the other McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen. In sixth, Seb Vettel's Red Bull.

1431: Time's up and Nico Rosberg's Williams is top for the ninth time in 16 practice sessions this season. Like I say, Rosberg owns practice. Lewis Hamilton is a very encouraging second quickest ahead of Rubens Barrichello's Brawn.

1429: A minute remaining and Nico Rosberg locks up, almost losing his Williams coming into Mirabeau.

1426: Felipe Massa is trying to put the pedal down - but the traffic is heavy. The Brazilian loses his rag completely when's he's held up by Giancarlo Fisichella's Force India and starts waving his fist in the manner of a white van man. Unseemly.

1424: These times are now quicker than last year's pole. And Nico Rosberg is now top again. There really is no-one to touch him when it comes to practice.

1422: Imagine that. Nico Rosberg's Williams takes P1 - but wait! Lewis Hamilton swiftly knocks him out with a 1:15.445. The Englishman's mastery of this circuit deserves all sorts of respect.

1420: That's what you call getting a bit lairy. Lewis Hamilton chucks his McLaren inches from the wall as he manages to post a 1:15.590 - enough to go second quickest.

1418: Lewis Hamilton goes quickest in the first sector but he then has a massive lock-up into the harbour chicane. Big flat spot in that tyre - but he's carrying on regardless.

1414: Cheeky spin for Mark Webber but he's quickly back on his way. Seb Vettel has just gone a touch quicker than his Red Bull team-mate and is up to ninth.

1411: Mark Webber is finally putting down some laps after sitting out the first 45 minutes. His Red Bull lies ninth quickest, two places ahead of Seb Vettel.

1409: There you go, sound back. That's the power I wield around these parts. Jenson Button is giving it some welly, he's now up in seventh. Team-mate Rubens Barrichello top - and here comes Williams' Nico Rosberg, popping up in second.

1406: Apologies to those of you watching the live stream, the sound has gone. It's not just you. Rest assured, we're looking into it.

1402: They're all moving onto the harder tyre now - which is, of course, the soft. Rubens Barrichello goes quickest with a 1:15.590 - these are some serious times now. Ah, some news about Jenson Button. Holly Samos reveals that he "had some contact with one of the walls earlier on in this session so Brawn have taken the whole front end off to check everything".

1357: Caron in Livingston has just pointed out that Brawn are on Twitter. How very modern. I'm now a follower - but I wish they'd reveal what Jenson's problem is. He's slipped back to 12th now. Times are beginning to drop like stones. Heikki Kovalainen dips into the 1:15s.

1353: Felipe Massa has a sideways moment coming into Mirabeau - but it doesn't matter one jot. The Brazilian goes quickest of all with a 1:16.112. Super stuff.

1350: Andrew, it counts. I'm pretty relaxed with rules when it comes to celebrity spotting. Still no Diddy though. Disappointing. Thinking about it, he's probably not a practice kinda guy. On the track: a bit of movement at last as Rubens Barrichello briefly moves up to second before being usurped by the Renault of Fernando Alonso. You have to go all the way down to 13th to find the other Renault of you-know-who.

A celeb has been spotted
BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Monaco: "I can help Sarah's celebrity hunt - Liz Hurley was on the same plane to Nice as me this morning. Looking glamorous in an expensive-looking long white jacket and trousers, she unsuccessfully tried to disguise herself in baggage reclaim with the not very effective tactic of standing in a corner with her back turned to the great unwashed around her. I'm not sure whether it counts, though - I don't know whether she was on her way to the Cannes Film Festival or Monaco. Or both, for that matter."

Text in your views on 81111
From Matt via text in 81111: "Great to see Heikki posting some times, and can't wait for Jenson's final setup for quali. I think he's tinkering."

1341: Haven't heard that Jenson Button is having any problems, maybe he's just experimenting with a few things. He can afford to, after all. The top eight runners are now 1:16s. Mark Webber is still stranded in the pits.

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From WAYNEEBCFC on 606: "Is Button struggling with set-up? Or am I reading too much into his average times so far?"
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1337: This is like old-school F1. Well, 2008 F1 anyway. McLaren, Ferrari, Ferrari top three. Sebastian Vettel is out on the track in his Red Bull after his earlier engine fail.

1332: Tremendous work, Sarah (see below). Although I'm not all that enthused by James Blunt. I want a Jay-Z or a Diddy. Back to the track: Lewis Hamilton does indeed knock team-mate Heikki Kovalainen off his perch. Felipe Massa is second now, ahead of Kovalainen. Jarno Trullo and Kimi Raikkonen are also in the 1:16s.

A celeb has been spotted
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Monaco: "Sweet Caroline, you'll be pleased to know that I've only gone and enlisted double Monaco GP winner and BBC expert David Coulthard into your celebrity hunt. I figured he's a local resident and owns Columbus hotel so he must know what's going on. 'The singer James Blunt is here, if you want some beautiful scenes,' he helpfully reveals. Seen anyone else? 'No'."

1327: Heikki Kovalainen is the only man in the 1:16s, but McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton is after him.

Text in your views on 81111
From Paul, Cornwall, via text on 81111: "Re 1248: can we have a replay of 'gratuitous shots of ladies sunbathing on yachts'? I missed that crucial bit - curse work!"

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Monaco: "I've been up and down the paddock this lunchtime asking the serious question - is the Monaco playground a micro-climate exempt from the global economic climate? Hmmm, well it appears the answer is no. One Monaco resident tells me there are fewer big players - I prefer the term high-rollers - in the casino while 20% of the balconies which are rented out to watch the GP are still empty AND there are less super boats docked in the marina than seen dropping their anchors in years gone by. The atmosphere in Monte Carlo is pretty relaxed too - but I'm told by Friday the party people - including this season's Mr F1, Sir Richard Branson - will start turning up."

1321: Anyone else reading in Monaco spotted Graham Taylor? Mark from Bristol, who texted in earlier, now claims to have got the great man's autograph. It does seem a remarkably odd thing to make up - but I still can't picture GT lapping up the glitz and glamour of Monte Carlo.

1319: Settle down Nick, your man Lewis has just been nudged down to third by the two Renaults of Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jr, who are both into the 1:17s.

From Nick via text on 81111: "I just jumped up shouting 'get in Hamilton' at work in a quite busy office! Worth it tho. Love Monte Carlo."

1315: BBC pit-lane reporter Holly Samos reveals that Toyota are trying out a new front wing. Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli finished in the bottom two spots in first practice, so they'll be hoping to improve in this session.

1311: Adrian Sutil spins his Force India coming into St Devote. Don't worry, he's just showing off. He's an entertainer that boy. And yes, well spotted everyone, it was the BMW of Robert Kubica giving up. Refresh and that howler will disappear before your very eyes.

1309: "I can't push, I can't do anything" is the message from Sebastien Bourdais to his Toro Rosso team. Meanwhile, you'll never guess who's top of the pops at the moment. No, you will actually, it's Nico Rosberg. He owns practice.

1306: Flames, clouds of smoke billowing across the track, that's the BMW engine of Robert Kubica giving way in spectacular fashion. Kubica was earlier described by Holly Samos as being "grumpy". I'd say it's worth giving him a wide berth now.

1305: Mark Webber sounded remarkably upbeat there despite Red Bull's problems, so hopefully it's not too serious. Webber complained of "vibrations at the rear" while Seb Vettel's Renault engine blew up.

Red Bull driver Mark Webber: "We're still fixing the car. It's going to take about another 25 minutes, half an hour. I'd have to kill you if I told you what's wrong, but it's definitely nothing to do with the new parts on the car."

1300: The light goes green and there's a moment of complete silence before our old friend Nelson Piquet Jr leads the way out onto the track. I'm going to bet that's the only time I'll be writing Nelsinho's name and "leading the way" in the same sentence this weekend.

Text in your views on 81111
From anon via text on 81111: "My mate Ian, who knows a thing or two about Ross Brawn, reckons it's Barrichello all the way this weekend!"

1255: BBC Red Button coverage is under way so if you're based in the UK, refresh the page and you should get some sort of live streaming thing going on up there above me.

1253: Want a little technical update? Red Bull have got their first interpretation of the double diffuser, as expected. They don't think it'll have much impact until the quicker races though. Only McLaren are using Kers.

Text in your views on 81111
Dave, hard at work in ashbourne, via text on 81111: Hey Cheese, how do you feel the crucial battle of Piquet and Sutil will turn out? My money's on Sutil due to his amazing 80's hair."

1248: And now we're getting gratuitous shots of ladies sunbathing on yachts. Where's Ben Dirs when you need him? This is really much more his sort of thing.

1245: I just saw a shot of Robert Kubica! And he was smiling!! So, for that matter, is Sebastian Vettel despite having his engine give way on him halfway through first practice.

Text in your views on 81111
From anon via text on 81111: "Getting the plane to Nice on Saturday, possibly going to miss quali, but will be watching the race from the swimming pool complex on Sunday! Woohoo!"

Oof. That text made me feel physically sick. Enjoy 'anon' (written in 'gritted teeth' font)

1233: Fernando Alonso, whose glass is never more than half-empty, has got the right hump about this budget cap palaver as well. "I'm worried that F1 might disappear," said the Spaniard. "If seven teams go, Formula 1 disappears. With unknown drivers, it's over. You'll lose the 10 best drivers in the world." It's not going to happen, Nando, trust me.

Text in your views on 81111
From Dave, Milton Keynes, via text on 81111: "I'm teaching English to a class of Brazilians. Keep leaving the room to check practice times. Two Brazilians fastest at the moment and the students are going mad."

1229: I just wish they'd get on and make the compromise they are inevitably going to make and then we can stop talking about it...

1226: I didn't really want to have to mention "budget-cap-gate" but it feels a bit like the elephant in the room at the moment. Bernie Ecclestone has just come out and said he is "concerned" that Ferrari might pull out if the FIA presses ahead with its £40m budget cap next season. The deadline for 2010 entries is eight days away and Ecclestone said: "We will have to wait and see. Probably, the majority won't put an entry in."

Text in your views on 81111
From anon via text on 81111: "What's the latest, Cheese? U still in that swimmin pool sippin on g&t's?"

Not exactly. I have opened the window and can now feel the cool Shepherds Bush breeze. Lovely.

1215: Ah hello. You're back. Good. Second practice kicks off at 1300 BST. In the meantime, we should have time to wax lyrical about Adrian Sutil. And some other things too. Gimme a shout on 81111 or get involved on 606.
Join the debate on 606

1042: Time for a short break, which should allow you people in the office to cram in some work, unless you like cricket of course... I shall return at 1215 BST.
Live text - England v West Indies

1038: Plenty of encouragement for the big boys though. Ferrari are second and fifth, McLaren third and fourth. Seb Vettel, who many people see as the main threat to championship leader Jenson Button, saw his session wrecked by an engine blow-up. Button, by the way, sitting in eighth.

1035: The Toyotas of Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli are in 19th and 20th, which is odd. Adrian Sutil, in 18th, clearly doesn't want to mess about with this practice malarkey. And BMW's season doesn't seem to be getting any better: Kubica 16th, Heidfeld 17th.

Text in your views on 81111
From Graeme, Cornwall, via text on 81111: "Re Dan's text at 1028: Am sitting at home watching text comments and replies. Is calling Dan 'Dave' normal?"

Haha. Good point.

1031: Session over, and Felipe Massa is the only driver to make a late move. Rubens Barrichello is top with a 1:17.189 ahead of Massa, three-tenths back, and Lewis Hamilton.

1029: Nico Rosberg is going quick - but he gets stuck behind Lewis Hamilton and that's going to thwart his hopes of yet another P1 in practice.

1028: Rubens Barrichello almost has a serious moment at Saint Devote but he stops before hitting the tyre barrier. The Brawn driver is still top man in this session.

Text in your views on 81111
From Dan, Eastbourne, via text on 81111: "Am sitting at work watching the practice with no sound - making the car noises in my head... Is that normal?"

I think you know the answer to that Dave.

1022: Robert Kubica is out on the track in his "disastrous" BMW, so we'll keep an eye on him. He's running 16th. One-two-three of Barrichello, Massa, Hamilton with seven minutes remaining.

Text in your views on 81111
From Matt, Blackburn, via text on 81111: "Great news Cheese! The speed trap classification has just come up and none other than Monaco hero Adrian Sutil is leading the way! Happy days!"

1017: Woe, woe, woe, for Bob Kubica. He gives his team a long list of the problems he's suffering. "It's a disaster," he concludes. Gloom.

Get involved on 606
From mark5115 on 606: "Re 1010: The way BMW are performing this year it's almost like they have got the Chuckle Brothers in their garage."
Join the debate on 606

Text in your views on 81111
From Owen, Swanage, via text on 81111: "Spotted: Jane Ross, wife of flamboyant Beeb presenter Jonathan, leaving bakery in erm, Swanage, Dorset. Does this count, Cheese?"


1010: Red Bull are changing Seb Vettel's engine so we probably won't see the German again this session. While I wasn't looking, Rubens Barrichello has sneaked up into P1 with a 1:17.189, ahead of Ferrari's Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton's McLaren. Nico Rosberg, king of practice, is only fifth. He'll be fuming.

1008: And now trouble for Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber who radios his team to report a "bit of vibration at the rear". The Red Bull crew will be busy boys...

1003: Drama. A large blue plume of smoke emerges from the back of Seb Vettel's Red Bull as he exits the tunnel. That's his Renault engine kaput. Back to the pits for you, sunshine.

1001: Butch has just texted in with a sighting of Barry Chuckle in the BMW garage. Come on now, Butch, at least make it half-believable. Everyone knows Barry is never seen without... the other one. Paul? Is it? Still Lewis Hamilton on top, five-tenths of a second quicker than Felipe Massa.

0958: Both Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica have been suffering with brake problems - their cars have anyway. Heidfeld is now out in his BMW but Kubica remains stationary. BBC pit-lane reporter Holly Samos reports that the Pole is "very grumpy".

Get involved on 606
From eau_rouge_08 on 606: "I predict Hamilton Redemption this weekend."
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0951: If that last text is true, I wonder if Dolph had a chat with Adrian Sutil. What a meeting of minds that would be. Lundgren must be buzzing. Still Lewis Hamilton's McLaren atop the timings. Only Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica yet to show.

A celeb has been spotted
From anon via text on 81111: "You wanted celeb gossip? I heard Dolph Lundgren was in the Force India garage."

0947: Of course Watford legend Graham Taylor gets celebrity status - but I must admit I'm doubting the veracity of that last text. Just can't see GT as a petrolhead. Meanwhile, switcheroo at the top as Lewis Hamilton dips his McLaren into the 1:17s ahead of Nico Rosberg's Williams. Didn't think Rosberg would stay quiet for long. He loves a practice session.

A celeb has been spotted
From Ryan from Bristol in Monte Carlo via text on 81111: "Just sat down by the swimming pool and Graham Taylor, ex-England manager, is standing on a balcony watching proceedings 50 yards away. Will he make celebrity status though?"

0941: Still Felipe Massa sitting in P1, ahead of world championship leader Jenson Button and Renault's Fernando Alonso. Those three all in the 1:18s.

BBC pit-lane reporter Holly Samos: "Keep an eye out for Robert Kubica's BMW. On the side of his car, it says Happy Birthday Mini. The Mini celebrates its 50th birthday this year."

A celeb has been spotted
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Monaco: "Ladies and gentleman, I feel I have to let you in on The Cheese's voracious appetite for celebrity gossip. Not content with news from BBC HQ and the F1 paddock, she wants more, more, more celeb news. Luckily, I can satisfy her for now with the news that 2008 Australian Open champion - and Monaco resident - Novak Djokovic has been spotted emerging from Ferrari's garage looking 'rather handsome'."

0934: And now Felipe Massa sticks a 1:18.953 on the board. The lap record of 1:14.439 was set by Michael Schumacher in 2004. Pole position last year was Massa's 1:15.787.

0929: Timo Glock - my perennial tip for victory - takes us into the 1:19s for the first time today. In answer to Dave (see below), Nelson Piquet Jr is still on the track. This cannot last.

Text in your views on 81111
From Dave in Ashbourne via text on 81111: "Any sign of Nelsinho upping this game? At work we have a sweepstake of where he's going to crash first, my moneys on Tabac."

0925: Still only three times on the board: Buemi's Toro Rosso and the Toyotas of Glock and Trulli. Can Toyota finally get that 'first win' monkey off their back this weekend?

0922: Our celebrity graphic has been criminally underused so far this season, so if it doesn't get some serious airtime this week at the most glamorous Grand Prix of them all, I'm going to decommission it.

0920: Sebastien Buemi is the first man to post a quick one, getting his Toro Rosso round in 1:22.896.

0916: BBC pit-lane reporter Holly Samos tells Ross Brawn that Red Bull have made changes to their car. "So have we," fires back the Brawn boss. They include a "new rear wing configuration".

0911: Having promised a definitive response to Dan's question earlier, I have come up with a half-baked one instead. The Monaco Grand Prix is always held on the week of Ascension Day. Today is a public holiday, so I guess it's more convenient to have the roads shut today? I am told that Bernie Ecclestone once answered that question thus: "It is decided by the Bible." So there.

From Simon, Wiltshire, via text on 81111: "Re Ted Kravitz comment: Laughing at the idea of cars negotiating spilt drinks and vol au vents at the swimming pool!"

0907: Red Bull team boss Christian Horner tells the BBC that both their cars are running with their "interpretation of the double diffuser". He adds: "It's worth a bit. Our one is a little more complex, more intricate. I think it will be hard to see a clear benefit here but once we get to the faster tracks, we should see a real benefit."

Text in your views on 81111
From Becky, Twickenham, via text on 81111: "I like to see Ferrari embracing the budget cap concept... putting the whole team up in a luxury yacht!"

BBC Sport's pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "In today's practice, it will be a matter of drivers struggling to find grip. People will have been partying on the exit of the Swimming Pool until the early hours and there has only been one support race so far this morning; so drivers will face difficult track conditions."

0900: Cars on the track. That must mean we're up and running.

0855: I shall answer Dan's question shortly - but just a quick heads up that BBC Red Button coverage (streamed live on the website for UK users) is now under way, as are the boys on BBC 5 Live Sports Extra.

Text in your views on 81111
From Dan, Nailsea, via text on 81111: "Hi Caroline, just wondering, why is practice at Monaco held on a Thursday and not a Friday? Thanks."

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Monaco: "Bonjour tout le monde from Monaco. Yes, six races in and we have hit the winding streets of Monte Carlo where Formula 1's twin principles of fast cars and fast living are played out in the Principality. While luminaries such as Force India boss Vijay Mallya, retail king Philip Green and apparently the entire Ferrari team are staying on super yachts encased in the marina, the BBC team are embracing cost-cutting and resting their heads in Villefranche-sur-Mer, which is about eight miles worth of spectacular scenery on the drive into Monaco. The word is, you can't find a room in Monaco for less than 300 euros a night BUT tickets were still on sale this morning for the Grand Prix for just 70 euros."

0849: Three texts so far: two of them about live text commentary legend Adrian Sutil. Good work. The Force India driver was fourth at last year's Monaco GP before he was cruelly shunted out of the race by Kimi Raikkonen. "It took a few weeks to get over it and even now I think about it. It's always there a little bit," said a mournful Sutil the other day.

Text in your views on 81111
From anon via text on 81111: "Have you seen the dreamy Adrian Sutil yet, Caroline? Overseas BBC Sports Personality of the Year, you heard it hear first."

0840: Thank goodness then for Monaco: the sport's most glamorous race, with a rich and emotive history. Frankly, I cannot wait. You? (Let me know on 606 or via text on 81111. Thanks!)

0836: Yes, folks, satire. And it's not even 9am (in the UK anyway). That's what this incredibly tiresome story has reduced me to. It is quite literally playground stuff. Max M: "We're changing the rules." Ferrari: "Well, we're not playing then." Toyota, Red Bull, Renault: "And neither are we, so ner ner ner ner ner." Have any of them given any thought to the fact that this is severely damaging the image of a sport which had made real gains this season? Bore off the lot of you, and let's get on with some actual sport.
Ferrari fail in budget-cap appeal

0830: We're sorry to inform you that Formula 1 infighting will take a back seat for the next few days while we concentrate on some racing in Monaco. Rest assured, normal service will be resumed on Monday.

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After 60 of 61 laps
Position Driver Team

Race stopped at 60 laps

1 Great Britain L Hamilton Mercedes
2 Germany S Vettel Red Bull
3 Australia D Ricciardo Red Bull
4 Spain F Alonso Ferrari
5 Brazil F Massa Williams
6 France J Vergne Toro Rosso
7 Mexico S Perez Force India
8 Finland K Raikkonen Ferrari
9 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India
10 Denmark K Magnussen McLaren
11 Finland V Bottas Williams
12 Venezuela P Maldonado Lotus
13 France R Grosjean Lotus
14 Russia D Kvyat Toro Rosso
15 Sweden M Ericsson Caterham
16 France J Bianchi Marussia
17 Great Britain M Chilton Marussia
18 Great Britain J Button (ret.) McLaren
19 Germany A Sutil (ret.) Sauber
20 Mexico E Gutierrez (ret.) Sauber
21 Germany N Rosberg (ret.) Mercedes
22 Japan K Kobayashi (ret.) Caterham

see also
Monaco Grand Prix practice results
18 May 09 |  Results
Monaco Grand Prix practice photos
21 May 09 |  Formula 1
Rosberg sets Monaco practice pace
21 May 09 |  Formula 1
Ferrari fail in budget-cap appeal
20 May 09 |  Formula 1
Vettel targets Button in Monaco
20 May 09 |  Formula 1
Worried Alonso ponders F1 future
20 May 09 |  Formula 1
Fighting Massa eyes Monaco podium
19 May 09 |  Formula 1
Hamilton refuses to concede title
15 May 09 |  Formula 1
F1 on the BBC
01 Dec 11 |  Formula 1

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