Toto Wolff believes Lewis Hamilton will see out career with Mercedes

His practice effort on Thursday was quick by any measure and his lap record was only eclipsed by Ferrari star Sebastian Vettel, who threw down an unbelievable 1:12.70 to beat Ricciardo by four-tenths of a second. We have good downforce here, the rear of the auto feels like it is working the best it has so far this year. "We managed to put it together and we're quite happy".

Even the normally inscrutable Raikkonen sounded upbeat.

"Getting lap one out of the tyres for us is impossible", Bottas said.

"We've got some work to do ahead of Saturday".

In an interview with Natalie Pinkham which airs in Sky F1's Monaco GP Qualifying Show from midday on Saturday, Ricciardo says the early-season gap between Red Bull and the two frontrunners means his pre-2017 targets have had to be lowered.

By contrast, the mood inside the Mercedes camp was likely to be one of concern.

Valtteri Bottas had to settle for 10th in Practice Two, three hundredths of a second slower than team-mate Hamilton and just four hundredths of a second quicker than the McLaren-Hondas which have struggled for pace throughout 2017.

"We made some changes between practice one and practice two but we clearly went in the wrong direction - that's why both of us were struggling". That's not a very hard exercise but we lost a session where we could have progressed. "When the vehicle isn't quite right, you lose a lot of time in Monaco".

"At least we have enough time to work things out".

Later in the day, the drivers will return to the Monte Carlo circuit for the second practice session.

"It was a bit of a messy second practice, but we're not too far off." he said after Red Bull saw junior team Toro Rosso vie with them for stable supremacy.

Asked about Mercedes' apparently disappointing performance, Vettel added: "I don't know what happened to them today".

Monaco is unique in F1 schedule, especially because the drivers get off on Friday. "I'm pretty sure there is a reason and they will be back to full force on Saturday".

"This track kind of rewards confidence. we can probably have a better weekend than expected", Ricciardo said.

Claiming pole position is always crucial at the Monaco GP and it will be an extra-special occasion for Hamilton if he achieves it.

Practice was red-flagged with 36 minutes to go when Lance Stroll crashed at Casino Square.

There has been speculation that the Briton was not overwhelmed at the prospect, with former champions McLaren the only team yet to score a point in five races this season, but he said that was not the case.

The 37-year-old is back in the Formula One paddock as a one-off replacement for Fernando Alonso, the double world champion who is competing at the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

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