Lewis Hamilton: 'Ferrari have caught Mercedes on race starts'

Near miss for Max Verstappen at Monaco GP

Bottas remains confident he can close gap in F1 title race

The real story in Monaco, of course, will be the next stage of the duel between Lewis Hamilton [2.18] and Sebastian Vettel [2.88].

Schumacher, who won a record seven world titles and 91 races, also won at Monaco driving for Ferrari in 1997 and '99.

The four-time champion threw down a gauntlet to his rivals in emphatic fashion by lapping nearly half a second clear of the chasing pack in Thursday's second practice while Briton Hamilton struggled to finish more than a second adrift down in eighth. By Mercedes' standards, Lewis Hamilton languished in P8, ahead of Haas' Kevin Magnussen & the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.

There is a second practice later Thursday. Still we have some work to do on the auto but it's more fun this year, going faster, the cars are faster, so it's been a good day.

"To be honest, I love to watch the old onboard footage of Senna racing in Monaco", said the England-born Hamilton. "When we are discussing the engines from 2020 onwards, a great engine noise will be one of the key points for us".

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The first two free practice sessions traditionally take place on Thursday in Monaco, with Friday a day off in terms of track running for the F1 teams before FP3 takes place on Saturday morning.

"I'm not sure why the tyres weren't working, but the difference between the two sessions was night and day, black and white".

"We have to get everything right and then we should be in good shape, but here you are not entirely the master of your own fate and so many things can happen in a long race". Hamilton's lap was the fastest seen around the Monaco Grand Prix Circuit, beating last year's pole time by almost 0.2s.

He accused his bitter rival Nico Rosberg of feigning a spin in qualifying to scupper his attempt at pole in 2014. The 27-year-old Finn has quietly impressed - out-qualifying Hamilton at two of the opening five rounds this season and winning the first race of his career in Russian Federation.

"I want to beat him in the auto because, when he's at his best and I beat him, that says what it needs to say rather than having him on the back foot".

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"Being on the podium in the last race, I saw an energy from my team that I've been yearning for - that they've probably all been yearning for".

"But not many people in the world can say they have a Monaco Grand Prix win under their belt". Over 18 holes, whoever's the most consistent generally ends up winning, so I'm excited about it.

Jenson Button could only manage the 12th-quickest time for McLaren as he continues to get to grips with F1 again in his one-off return in the Principality while he fills in for Fernando Alonso, who is away taking part in the Indianapolis 500 instead this weekend.

The second session was briefly red flagged with half an hour remaining when Canadian rookie Lance Stroll, testing the limits on his first Monaco weekend, hit the barriers hard at the entrance to Casino Square.

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