Sport Riccardo fastest in practices for Monaco GP
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MONACO -- Daniel Ricciardo topped the first two practice sessions for the Monaco Grand Prix on Thursday.
In sunny conditions, the Australian driver finished a fraction ahead of Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen in both runs on the tight and sinewy 3.4-kilometer (2.1-mile) street circuit.
Sebastian Vettel was third quickest for Ferrari and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was fourth in the second practice, reversing their positions from the opening session.
There is a third and final practice on Saturday ahead of qualifying.
Gaining pole position in Monaco is more crucial than most races because the track is notoriously difficult to overtake on.
Neither Red Bull driver has qualified higher than fourth this season.
''Both drivers seem reasonably comfortable in the car. But as we've seen, Saturday has been our weakness throughout the season,'' team principal Christian Horner said. ''We've always had a strong race car, but (qualifying) is where we've tended to struggle. Hopefully with the shorter straights here and with this circuit layout, it offers us our best qualifying chance of the season.''
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Marco Andretti, Robert Wickens and Ed Carpenter have all broken the 231 mph barrier on Fast Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speeway, but James Davison has hit the SAFER barrier after losing the rear of his car exiting Turn 2. 2 Bank Accounts That Pay 10x What Your Bank Pays Learn More Sponsored by MyFinance Just past the halfway point of the seven-hour session, the Australian was 32nd overall and 35th on the no-tow rankings when the back end of the AJ Foyt Racing with Byrd/Hollinger/Belardi entry flicked out, looping him into a spin. The car's left-side made hard contact with the SAFER barrier.
Vettel won the Monaco GP last year and the German driver needs another strong performance after dropping points in the title race. Vettel is second overall and 17 points behind Hamilton, who has won the past two races with Vettel placing fourth in both.
A red flag came out during the second session, briefly halting it as repair work was carried out on a drain cover near the famed Casino.
Verstappen was summoned to stewards for reversing onto the track in an unsafe manner during first practice, but no further action was taken against the Dutch driver. He locked up his front left tire on the approach to Turn 1 and went off into an escape road. Rather than spin the car round, he reversed back onto the track and Vettel had to cut a corner to avoid him.
Verstappen has been involved in two high-profile incidents this season. Ricciardo crashed into the back of him in Azerbaijan as they fought for position with a podium in sight, and both went out of that race. He also clipped Vettel during the Chinese GP and Vettel finished eighth.
French driver Romain Grosjean, who has failed to finish three of five races so far, twice clipped the barriers in P1. He is the only driver yet to score a point along with Russian driver Sergey Sirotkin from the Williams team.
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