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Button is fastest at practice

Monaco: McLaren’s Jenson Button set the pace in practice for the Monaco Grand Prix, on Thursday, after morning sunshine gave way to afternoon showers.

Button, a winner around the treacherous metal-ringed street circuit in his 2009 title season with Brawn GP, skimmed the barriers and roared past the luxury yachts bobbing in the harbour with a fastest time of one minute 15.746 seconds on super-soft tyres.

“We have not done a lot of running for a Thursday at Monaco so hopefully Saturday will be a bit better,” he said looking forward to qualifying, with Friday a rest day in the principality.

Button’s time was set in the dry as drivers got in quick laps in the first 15 minutes before the rainclouds darkened the skies and made conditions slippery.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso also showed his Monaco mastery with a pace-setting 1:16.265 in a morning session cut short in a cloud of smoke when Heikki Kovalainen’s Caterham blew its engine in the tunnel. The Spaniard, twice a winner in Monaco with Renault and McLaren, was fourth in the afternoon.

Romain Grosjean burnished his hopes of becoming the first French Formula One winner in Monaco since Olivier Panis’s unlikely victory in 1996 with the second-fastest time in both sessions.

“I like Monaco, it’s good fun. The car is going well at the moment so let’s see what we can do later on. It’s important to have a car that you are confident with and work every single detail because it makes such a big difference,” said the Lotus driver.