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Raikkonen the value to set early pace in Monaco

Ferrari veteran has performed well in first practice

Kimi Raikkonen currently lies fourth in the world championship
1 of 1

Monaco Grand Prix practice
Channel 4 & Sky Sports F1, 9am & 1pm

Lewis Hamilton heads to Monaco knowing that a repeat of his win in Spain two weeks ago will put him in the lead of the world championship.

Hamilton's Mercedes team have won Formula One's showpiece event for the last four seasons, but three of those victories went to Hamilton's now-retired teammate Nico Rosberg.

And Hamilton's win last year came only after polesitter and longtime race leader Daniel Ricciardo's pit crew botched his tyre stop.

Hamilton edges favouritism for qualifying, the race and to go fastest in first practice over Vettel. Uniquely, the first day of running in Monaco takes pace on Thursday to allow the public roads that make up the circuit to be used by the local population on Friday.

The idiosyncrasies of the course mean the pack are often shuffled in Monte Carlo. Mercedes suffered their only failure to claim pole position there last year and the smaller teams see it as their best chance of the year to score points.

Top-end engine power and fancy aerodynamics are less important due to the low average speeds, and in this year's wider cars the narrow streets will seem even more claustrophobic.

A good car is a good car, though, and Mercedes and Ferrari should still hold a significant advantage.

Ferrari have not won in the Principality since 2001, but this year's car has proven nimble and effective on the softest compounds of tyre, as will be used this weekend.

The Prancing Horses were in a class of their own in the twisty final sector of the Sochi track during the Russian Grand Prix weekend. Mercedes were a match for them in the similarly tight third sector in Barcelona last time, but it is worth remembering that the hardest compounds of tyre were in use there, which seem to suit the Silver Arrows better.

Kimi Raikkonen has outpaced his Ferrari teammate Vettel in all three opening practice sessions in which they have both set times and the Iceman looks a fine each-way bet for FP1.

Recommendation
K Raikkonen fastest in practice one
1pt each-way 14-1 Hills

This year's Ferrari has proven nimble and effective on the softest compounds of tyre, as will be used this weekend
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