MONACO, May 24 (Reuters) - Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo produced a record lap around the streets of Monaco on Thursday as Red Bull dominated opening free practice for Formula One’s most glamorous grand prix.
The 28-year-old mastered the winding, metal-fenced streets with a best time of one minute 12.126 seconds, already quicker than Kimi Raikkonen’s 2017 pole position of 1:12.178 for Ferrari.
Dutch team mate Max Verstappen was second quickest, 0.154 seconds slower.
The 20-year-old was also summoned to stewards after reversing onto the track after running off at the first Sainte Devote corner.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton and closest title rival Sebastian Vettel were third and fourth, with the Mercedes driver lapping in 1:12.480 and Ferrari’s German managing a best effort of 1:13.041.
Hamilton leads Vettel, last year’s winner in Monaco, by 17 points after five races.
Drivers had predicted before the session started that lap records would tumble thanks to the new hypersoft tyres which are making their competitive debut this weekend and track resurfacing.
Ricciardo was third in Monaco last year, after taking pole and finishing second in 2016, and is aiming to take the final step on Sunday.
“Both drivers have got a good feel for the car, the car’s working quite nicely, but it’s only Thursday morning,” Red Bull principal Christian Horner told Sky Sports television.
“We have had a competitive chassis all year and of course the straights are a bit shorter here, so that concertinas it all together.”
Raikkonen was fifth fastest with Renault’s Carlos Sainz sixth and Valtteri Bottas seventh for Mercedes. Mexican Sergio Perez, who holds the race lap record of 1:14.820, was eighth for Force India.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who missed last year’s race to compete in the Indianapolis 500 instead, had a difficult morning with his car suffering problems with its brake-by-wire system.
The double world champion missed most of the opening session and was only 17th fastest.
Russian rookie Sergey Sirotkin hit the wall in his Williams, limping back with a puncture, but went out again and ended up 10th fastest.
Father and son world champions Nico and Keke Rosberg, both retired, entertained the crowd after the session had ended by lapping the circuit in their title-winning cars. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin; editing by Jason Neely)