Button sets early pace

Button sets early pace

Grosjean shines in both sessions

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.

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' unlikely victory in 1996 with the second-fastest time in both sessions.

Ferrari's Brazilian Felipe Massa, under intense pressure to deliver after scoring just two points in five races, was an encouraging third in the second session.

Mexican Sergio Perez, returning to the scene of his big accident in qualifying last year, had been third in the morning for Sauber with race favourite Lewis Hamilton fourth for McLaren.

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