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Kovalainen tops practice 3, then crashes

Heikki Kovalainen set the fastest time in final practice for the Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday morning, then promptly spun and hit the barriers.

The Finn, who had just eclipsed the time of teammate Lewis Hamilton with 25 minutes of the session gone and drizzle fall lightly on the track, lost control of the McLaren on the exit of the swimming pool, damaging the rear of the car.

The hour-long session was then stopped, apparently to clear debris from the Finn's shunt.

The five-minute break was sufficient to allow the track to get properly damp again, having dried through the morning, and thus locked Kovalainen's 1:16.567 lap to the top of the timesheets.

Up until that point the session had been frantic, with seemingly the entire field - with the exception of David Coulthard (oil pressure problem) - venturing trackside before the predicted rain stole what was left of the precious dry track time.

The first ten minutes of the session saw Ferrari's Felipe Massa seize the moment as he banged in a succession of flying laps as he gradually lowered the mark to 1:17.691, which convinced the pace-setters from Friday, Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton, to venture out.

Raikkonen quickly established himself at the top of the times, but once Hamilton found himself space on the busying track - he swiftly remedied that. Until Kovalainen emerged from the pits...

Nico Rosberg continued to show the Williams team's strong Monaco form with the fourth fastest time, and the German was also impressively fast in the second, more slippery half of the session.

Robert Kubica's BMW was fifth, ahead of Massa - who eventually dropped to sixth.

Mark Webber always quick at Monaco was seventh just in front of Adrian Sutil, who once again shone in the tricky Saturday morning conditions that allowed his stock to rise so spectacularly this time a year ago.

Kazuki Nakajima and Jenson Button filled out the top ten, while Sebastien Bourdais was an impressive 11th.

It's also worth mentioning that Button once again proved super quick in the intermediate conditions, his Honda lapping more than a second faster than anyone else could manage when the circuit was at its wettest.

Eventually though the track began to dry and the times tumbled and in the final moments, Kubica's BMW broke the beam at 1:26.459, followed by the Ferraris of Raikkonen (1:27.077) and Massa (1:27.325).

Pos  Driver        Team                     Time             Laps
 1.  Kovalainen    McLaren-Mercedes    (B)  1:16.567          11
 2.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes    (B)  1:17.084 + 0.517  15
 3.  Raikkonen     Ferrari             (B)  1:17.177 + 0.610  21
 4.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota     (B)  1:17.503 + 0.936  26
 5.  Kubica        BMW Sauber          (B)  1:17.687 + 1.120  22
 6.  Massa         Ferrari             (B)  1:17.691 + 1.124  26
 7.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault    (B)  1:17.856 + 1.289  22
 8.  Sutil         Force India-Ferrari (B)  1:17.883 + 1.316  23
 9.  Nakajima      Williams-Toyota     (B)  1:18.147 + 1.580  26
10.  Button        Honda               (B)  1:18.225 + 1.658  27
11.  Bourdais      Toro Rosso-Ferrari  (B)  1:18.367 + 1.800  16
12.  Glock         Toyota              (B)  1:18.424 + 1.857  26
13.  Barrichello   Honda               (B)  1:18.455 + 1.888  19
14.  Piquet        Renault             (B)  1:18.615 + 2.048  25
15.  Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari  (B)  1:18.651 + 2.084  29
16.  Alonso        Renault             (B)  1:18.795 + 2.228  24
17.  Trulli        Toyota              (B)  1:18.858 + 2.291  25
18.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber          (B)  1:19.024 + 2.457  23
19.  Fisichella    Force India-Ferrari (B)  1:19.131 + 2.564  10
20.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault    (B)  1:20.805 + 4.238  17

All timing unofficial
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