Monaco GP: Lewis Hamilton fastest ahead of Nico Rosberg in first practice

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Monaco GP, Monaco Grand Prix, Monaco, Lewis Hamilton, Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Rosberg, Roberg Hamilton, Hamilton Rosberg, Mercedes, Mercedes, Monaco GP first practice, Formula One, F1, Motor Sport Lewis Hamilton finished the first practice session in .101 secs of the Monaco Grand Prix. (Source: AP)

Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest time Thursday in an eventful first practice session of the Monaco Grand Prix, a race he has not won since 2008.

Hamilton is chasing a third straight title and fourth overall but trails Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by 43 points.

The pair swapped the lead in a competitive P1 on the new ultra soft tire compound, but Hamilton finished it .101 seconds quicker than Rosberg, who was second fastest and picked up a late puncture after running over a loose drain cover.

The cover clipped the McLaren of Jenson Button, heavily damaging the front wing and halting the session with three minutes left.

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel was third quickest .419 behind Hamilton, who has gone eight races without a win since sealing the championship at the United States GP with three races to spare.

Meanwhile, the Williams team watched in frustration as veteran driver Felipe Massa lost control turning up the hill at Sainte Devote and slammed into the barriers, damaging the left side of his car, which was taken off the track by a crane.

The virtual safety car came out briefly again when British driver Jolyon Palmer’s Renault hit a wall, sending some debris onto the track.

Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo was fourth best ahead of new teammate Max Verstappen, the 18-year-old Dutchman who made history at the Spanish GP two weeks ago when he became the youngest to win an F1 race.

There is a second practice later Thursday.

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