Fernando Alonso topped the second practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix as earlier rain curtailed on-track action.
The Spaniard’s 1:18.482 came on his final lap in a flurry of activity in the closing minutes as most drivers opted to wait for the track to dry out.
The predicted rain came in the gap between the two practice sessions, with a hailstorm also hitting the iconic Monte Carlo harbour and the resultant wet track meant none of the teams and drivers were in a rush to go out.
Indeed the first time didn’t come until halfway through the session as Monaco débutant Daniil Kvyat got his first taste of the famous street circuit in the wet following his first experience in the dry in the morning.
Ferrari joined the action still on the intermediate tyres as the track was quick to initially dry but remained greasy pretty much throughout.
While Fernando Alonso’s activities were nothing special, Kimi Raikkonen was forced back into the pits with a gearbox failure on his F14-T, a problem that saw the Finn kangaroo-ing round the circuit in third gear.
Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button also joined the action as lap-times continued to improve albeit still over 12 seconds off the pace seen in the first session.
Just as it appeared we would get some dry running, Mercedes sent both cars out for a series of start simulations with exploratory laps as their plan to switch to slicks was hampered by the slow-drying surface.
Finally with less than 10 minutes left, Jean-Eric Vergne was the first man out on track using the non-treaded tyres and immediately took eight seconds off the previous best time of the session.
With no time for the usual race simulation, teams opted to simply send the cars out on the red-striped super-soft tyres, the first time they have been used this year.
Vergne’s time was initially tricky to beat but as the drivers' confidence grew, the times dropped by seconds per lap with the Force Indias and then Alonso moving to the head of the field.
In a period of on-track activity more reminiscent of qualifying than a practice session, Swede Marcus Ericsson pushed a little hard and went off at Portier. He missed the barrier, selected reverse and was able to continue but that ruined some driver’s attempts at fast laps, including Lewis Hamilton.
The notorious Monaco traffic meant a clean lap was tricky, however he eventually put in a lap good enough to go second as Alonso - driving right on the limit in his Ferrari - showed that when the going got slippery he could easily be a match for the Mercedes.
Sebastian Vettel was third as wet weather specialists Valtteri Bottas and Jean-Eric Vergne showed their skills again in fourth and fifth.
The two Force Indias again featured in the top ten with Sergio Perez ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in sixth and seventh. McLaren also got both cars into the top ten with Button eighth and Kevin Magnussen tenth as Daniel Ricciardo split the chrome cars in ninth.
The weather may have put a spanner in the works for the teams as they head into the weekend not knowing what the gap is between the two compounds of dry tyre and the level of degradation, but for the fans that should make for even more unpredictability at a venue where quite literally anything can happen.
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