Monaco GP: Max Verstappen fastest in FP3 but Ferrari have the upper hand

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Max Verstappen went quickest in the closing stages with a 1m11.294s, with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc rounding off the top three.


After Monaco’s unique Friday ‘rest’ day, giving F1 teams an extra 24 hours to mull over the results of Thursday and, more importantly, hone their car setups for today’s sessions, drivers and teams came out this morning with track temperatures 23 degrees lower than Thursday’s FP2 session and a 40 percent rain probability.

Unlike the first two practice sessions, the teams held back in their pit garage, with the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Räikkönen the first to come out on track three minutes after the lights went green.

With 15 minutes gone, both the Ferraris were exchanging lap times at the top of the timesheets, keeping up their good work from Thursday’s running. Carlos Sainz went quickest with a 1m12.533s before his teammate, Charles Leclerc, bettered that time by three-tenths.

The Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were the last to leave their garage, as Leclerc pulled out another quick lap of 1m11.658s to extend his lead at the top, Max Verstappen found some clear track after initially struggling with traffic and went quickest with a 1m11.485s.

With half of the session gone, the Mercedes drivers didn’t look at pace with the Ferraris and the Red Bull of Verstappen. After 10 laps each, on the soft compound tyres, the duo was half a second off the pace. Contrary to that, Carlos Sainz, on 13 lap old tyres, went quickest with a 1m11.452s.

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas found themselves locked up near the Swimming Pool section as they struggled with rear stability. Lando Norris almost hit the rear of Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari; the two of them were too close for comfort heading out of Rascasse.

With most cars back in the garage after their first run, the backmarkers stayed back for extra lap times. The Mercedes drivers were the first to come out for their second stint, coming out on a new set of soft compound tyres. Hamilton and Bottas set personal best sectors but didn’t improve on their P5 and P6 positions.

Carlos Sainz improved on his previous best time with a 1m11.341s – 0.14s ahead of Verstappen, Charles Leclerc set the fastest sectors in each lap, but continuous traffic hampered his second run before the Williams of Nicholas Latifi hit the barriers on the exit of the Swimming Pool area and clobbered his car on the Armco barriers, bringing out the Red Flags.

Race Director Michael Masi didn’t stop the timer and the session resumed with only nine minutes remaining. All but three cars came out on the track as the drivers battled for track position. Max Verstappen, on a new set of soft compound tyres, went quickest with a 1m11.294s – just 0.047s ahead of Carlos Sainz, who set a lap time of 1m11.347s on 17-lap-old soft compound tyres.

The session ended when the Haas of Mick Schumacher clattered onto the barriers, on the exit of Massenet, and brought out the second red flag of the session.

In the end, it was Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who topped the session, although on brand new tyres, followed by the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. Valtteri Bottas managed to go fourth fastest, with Sergio Pérez in P5 and Lando Norris in P6.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton will be very worried about the balance of his Mercedes as he finished in P7. Pierre Gasly was sandwiched between two former Monaco winners, with Kimi Räikkönen in P8 and Sebastian Vettel rounding off the Top 10.

Antonio Giovinazzi finished in P11, with Lance Stroll in P12. Daniel Ricciardo struggled – as he has since Thursday – as he ended the session in P13, with surprise package Mick Schumacher up in 14th. Fernando Alonso had a disappointing outing in 15th, while Nikita Mazepin finished in 16th – a promising sign for the under-developed Haas team. George Russell and Nicholas Latifi finished in P17 and P18, followed by Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon, who completed the standings.

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