Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton proved that Mercedes' Formula 1 rivals are right to fear its Monaco pace as they went first and second in Thursday afternoon practice in Monte Carlo.
Following his consecutive poles in Bahrain and Spain, and fastest time in practice one in Monaco, Rosberg continued his strong run by topping the second session on a 1m14.759s. He set that lap less than half an hour into the session and it remained unbeaten for the rest of the afternoon, as teams instead focused on just how far they could push both the soft and super-soft tire compounds.
Although there were plenty of radio comments about tire overheating and wear, as well as the usual Monaco traffic complaints, the Pirelli situation did not seem desperate for any teams.
The gap between the two Mercedes at the front was 0.318 second. Ferrari was Mercedes' next rival once again, with Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa third and fourth.
Mark Webber put Red Bull into the top five this time, but his teammate Sebastian Vettel's day remained quiet as he took ninth.
As is often the case on a practice day, Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus set ominously rapid long-run times that hinted at far more threatening race form that the headline pace suggested. The Finn and his teammate Romain Grosjean were sixth and seventh, despite the latter having the first crash of the F1 weekend when he slid into the Sainte Devote barriers on only his 11th lap.
Jenson Button was eighth for McLaren, followed by Vettel and the two Force Indias.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m14.759s 45
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m15.077s + 0.318s 50
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m15.196s + 0.437s 37
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m15.278s + 0.519s 38
5. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m15.404s + 0.645s 41
6. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m15.511s + 0.752s 38
7. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m15.718s + 0.959s 10
8. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m15.959s + 1.200s 39
9. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m16.014s + 1.255s 32
10. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m16.046s + 1.287s 42
11. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m16.349s + 1.590s 43
12. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m16.434s + 1.675s 40
13. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m16.823s + 2.064s 42
14. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m16.857s + 2.098s 40
15. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m16.935s + 2.176s 44
16. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m17.145s + 2.386s 37
17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m17.184s + 2.425s 42
18. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m17.264s + 2.505s 46
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m17.892s + 3.133s 40
20. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m18.212s + 3.453s 43
21. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m18.784s + 4.025s 40
22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m19.031s + 4.272s 30