Nico Rosberg set the fastest time during first practice for the Monaco Grand Prix, helping to underline Mercedes' status among the favourites for victory this weekend.
Although the drivers only had soft tyres at their disposal and not the super-soft that will be used in qualifying, Rosberg's time suggests the Mercedes will again be a contender for pole position this weekend. Fernando Alonso was second fastest and just 0.087s adrift as Ferrari started its hunt for its first win in Monaco since 2001.
Despite a few mistakes early in the session, and a car that seemingly did not want to turn into the tighter corners, Romain Grosjean set the third fastest time for Lotus. By the end of the session he seemed to have far more confidence in the car and finished just 0.185s off Rosberg's pace with an impressive lap on well-used tyres.
Ferrari's Felipe Massa was third fastest and 0.199s off Rosberg, finishing the session with the fastest middle sector but a couple of tenths to find in sectors one and two. Lewis Hamilton in the second Mercedes was fifth fastest and 0.274s off his team-mate, but likely to be a serious contender this weekend.
Pastor Maldonado was one of the biggest surprises of the session, setting the sixth fastest time for Williams. He has shown impressive pace on the streets of Monaco in the past, and despite struggling at the back of the field so far this season, managed to get within 0.8s of Rosberg's time.
Mark Webber was the highest-placed Red Bull in seventh, ahead of the two McLarens of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez. Sebastian Vettel rounded off the top ten and was 1.185s off the pace of the front runners, but Red Bull should not be ruled out just yet with the super-softs yet to run and the track yet to rubber in.
Kimi Raikkonen appeared to struggle to put a decent lap together and finished the session 1.314s off the pace, just ahead of the two Force Indias. Adrian Sutil was the only driver to spin after losing the rear of his car at St. Devote. His rear wing end plates shaved the crash barriers but he appeared to avoid any major damage. Several other drivers missed apexes and cut chicanes, but so far the repair bills are unusually low for Monaco.