Hamilton leads Vettel in first practice at Monaco

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Lewis Hamilton claimed the early initiative ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, setting the quickest time in first practice on Thursday.

The Mercedes driver posted a 1m13.425s around halfway into the 90-minute session which went unbeaten until the end as Sebastian Vettel only got within two-tenths in second for Ferrari.

Max Verstappen recovered from a puncture and a broken floor, to claim third in the final 10 minutes. At the same time, the Dutchman indicated Red Bull could very well make it a three-team battle for the win this weekend.

Valtteri Bottas looked quick early on but dropped to fourth by the end with the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo completing an impressive 45 laps in fifth. Also impressive was Toro Rosso as Daniil Kvyat claimed sixth ahead of a Kimi Raikkonen, with Spanish team-mate Carlos Sainz in ninth. The pair were also the only drivers in the top 10 not to use the ultra-soft tyres. 

The Italian team will likely face strong competition from Force India, however, as Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon also both made the top 10, in eighth and 10th respectively. In doing so, the Silverstone-based team sent another warning to their midfield rivals as they look to further increase their stranglehold on fourth in the Constructors' championship. 

Williams actually fell down to sixth behind Toro Rosso in those standings after Spain and at a circuit that doesn't usually suit them are looking shaky again with Felipe Massa only 11th and Lance Stroll 16th. The Canadian getting his first experience of Monaco in the process.

The anticipated strong form of McLaren has also failed to materialise for now with Stoffel Vandoorne 12th and Jenson Button easing back in on his return in 14th. The much greyer Haas' of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were 13th and 15th, with the Frenchman the only man to cause yellow flags after going down the escape road at Sainte Devote.

Renault had a miserable start to the weekend with Jolyon Palmer in 17th and Nico Hulkenberg failing to set a time at all as an ERS issue left the German stranded in the garage. Sauber too faced a similar situation with Pascal Wehrlein 18th and Marcus Ericsson unable to take to the circuit after losing fourth gear.

As mentioned, there were no significant incidents as the drivers gradually gain confidence on the famous street circuit. Several drivers, notably the two Ferrari's did rub the inside barrier entering the second Swimming Pool chicane but no damage was done. Chances of that being the case all weekend are rather slim, however.