It was hardly a representative session to kick off the weekend in Monte Carlo but for Gabriele Minì and PREMA Racing, they will be hoping the order remains the same after the Italian ended Free Practice as fastest.

The Alpine Academy talent was one of the first drivers to put together a push lap before the rain, though was far from the limits of what he and the car could do as drivers looked to get into a rhythm around the Principality.

With the session interrupted by several Red Flag stoppages, the final results cannot be read into says Minì.

“We can say that the times on the board were just from the first push lap, and it was the only one that we got that we completed in the dry,” he admitted. “For a first push lap, it was not bad, but there's a lot to improve.

PRACTICE: Minì quickest around Monte Carlo in rain-hit session

“Of course, driving-wise, we take a lot of margin on the first laps and I think the few corners that we did in the dry, the car felt quite ok. The lap was clean, under the limit, but a clean one and we were quick on that first push.”

While on paper the Practice session was far from ideal with the remainder of the weekend expected to stay dry, the PREMA driver dismissed the notion that they didn’t learn anything of use.

He was able to push on during his one and only quick lap, and that came from confidence he says. “Many times in past races we’ve changed our setup just based on the warm-up lap, so doing two warm-ups and one push, even if it seems useless, it's quite useful actually.

Minì was on the pace right away though expects everyone to take a big step forward tomorrow
Minì was on the pace right away though expects everyone to take a big step forward tomorrow

“As a driver I have the confidence that the car doesn't feel bad even with the few laps we've done. Also, the team can get some small amounts of information, but they’re still important bits.

“To be honest, I think it's just about how much risk you take, how close you’re willing to get to the walls. At some tracks, it’s about how much speed you carry, how late you brake but here especially, I think the key is really about how close you get to the walls because then you just carry so much more minimum speed, which is just crazy.

“If you have a good setup and that gives you confidence, maybe the driver can extract that extra tenth for two. While if you don't have it, maybe you just stay under the limit and that’s far from ideal, but we’ll see tomorrow.”

Looking ahead to the Qualifying session, the Italian driver will be looking to go back-to-back with Monte Carlo Poles after topping the 2023 session in convincing fashion.

Ahead of the expected drier conditions tomorrow, Minì says that there is a lot of time on the table for everyone up and down the field.

What to watch for: Key areas around Monte Carlo

The switch to Softs will bring laptime, but it’s pushing closer and closer to the limits that will make the ultimate difference according to the ’23 polesitter.

“I think just by doing more and more laps we’ll improve. Also, we were still running the Mediums, so when we put the Soft compound on, we should improve by around two or three seconds easily, but that comes from the driving side more than tyres to be honest.

“In the end, you just take so much margin here between the walls, you can make such a big difference, even in the wet we were not too bad. It was just a few tenths off, I lost quite a lot of time in the last sector on my lap, so I think it was not bad but of course we will see tomorrow.

“Between my second last and final push lap last year, getting closer to the walls provided so much time. My last push was very good, the second last one was not very good.

“So of course there wasn’t a full nine-tenths between using the track fully and not, but there is quite a good margin, and, in the end, a lot will be about the team and the setup.”