Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso says the Red Bull drivers remain favourites for both qualifying and the race at this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, despite the Spaniard having set the pace in today’s afternoon practice session.

Alosno – a back-to-back Monaco winner in 2006 and 2007 – finished over half a second clear of points leader Sebastian Vettel in practice two, but still sees the Milton Keynes-based outfit as the team to beat on the streets of Monte Carlo.

“I think it’s only Friday, so we need to see” said the Spaniard, forgetting that practice in Monaco takes place on a Thursday. Be fair to him: he’s only been an F1 driver for a decade now.

“We see Red Bull on Fridays testing different things and then on Saturday they are very strong. I expect them to be very competitive in qualy and I think in five days things cannot change so much, so I expect Red Bull to be the favourite for qualifying and the race.”

“But it’s true also that this is a very unique venue, so anything can happen. There is no room for mistakes so there is also this factor.

“The car is responding well and here we know it’s about confidence in the car,” he said. “Having a good set-up that enables you to brake later, to go in the corner quicker.

“And at the moment the car is offering me that possibility so I’m happy, but obviously it’s only Friday (Thursday, Fernando – THURSDAY) and we know on Saturday the stress and the pressure will increase and you need to have some margin and it’s very easy to make a mistake.”

Alonso had set a blistering pace in last years Thursday practice in Monaco but ruined his chances of a winning weekend by crashing as he climbed the hill in FP3. He went on to finish the race sixth.