Nico Rosberg tops final Monaco Grand Prix practice
|By Simon Strang||Saturday, May 26th 2012, 10:09 GMT|
Nico Rosberg set the fastest time in the final free practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix, which was brought to a halt prematurely following an accident for Pastor Maldonado at Casino Square.
The Spanish Grand Prix winner appeared to be involved in an incident with Sergio Perez's Sauber on the lap before at Portier and then lost control of his Williams on the entrance to Casino Square. He lost his left rear wheel as the car went out of control, before parking the FW34 at Mirabeau with three minutes of the session remaining.
An impressive Felipe Massa was second fastest ahead of a late-improving Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso in the second Ferrari.
Unsurprisingly there was a little more urgency about getting on with the business of working through set-up programmes at the start of this session, and none was more in a hurry to get on with it than Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn did not even bother with an installation lap and was the first to record a time - that of 1m18.993s.
That mark did not last long at the top of the times as the two Mercedes joined him and Rosberg moved to the top, just six hundredths faster.
Force India's Paul di Resta had a brief moment in the sunshine just before quarter distance, but only until one of the stars of the weekend so far - Romain Grosjean - fired in a 1m16.812s.
The Frenchman, super confident in the switched on Lotus, worked that down to a 1m15.811s, and notably that remained the best time anyone did on the soft prime Pirelli tyre.
Just after half an hour Rosberg moved the mark forward with a super soft option lap of 1m15.751s. The Chinese Grand Prix winner then backed off for a lap before going even faster – the result a 1m15.159s. That would be enough to settle the argument.
Behind him Massa - looking much more secure in the cockpit of his Ferrari than of late - Alonso and Grosjean all also improved on the red-walled Pirellis.
It was only in the last 10 minutes that Vettel, who had a sideways moment on the exit of the Swimming Pool on a previous lap, finally moved into third place in a Red Bull that does not look easy to use on the Monaco streets.
Behind this quintet, Jenson Button's best super soft effort could only net him sixth fastest ahead of his McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, Perez (whose best lap was baulked by Nico Hulkenberg) and Mark Webber, who completed the top 10.
Raikkonen spent the session focusing on race set-up and was 12th quickest.
Maldonado's was not the only late session incident. Di Resta, who ended up 18th fastest, crashed into the barriers under braking for the chicane as the car snapped left over the bumps, but he was able to return to the pits under his own power with significant nose and front wing damage.
As for the Venezuelan, it remains to be seen whether he will be called to discuss his Perez incident with driver steward Nigel Mansell, which could cost him dearly on a track that is all about grid position.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps 1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m15.159s 25 2. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m15.197s + 0.038s 21 3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m15.209s + 0.050s 20 4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m15.210s + 0.051s 20 5. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m15.445s + 0.286s 18 6. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m15.471s + 0.312s 19 7. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m15.734s + 0.575s 19 8. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m15.893s + 0.734s 23 9. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m16.110s + 0.951s 14 10. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m16.219s + 1.060s 19 11. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m16.226s + 1.067s 20 12. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m16.301s + 1.142s 21 13. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m16.311s + 1.152s 19 14. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m16.479s + 1.320s 20 15. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m17.027s + 1.868s 20 16. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m17.055s + 1.896s 26 17. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m17.276s + 2.117s 25 18. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m17.390s + 2.231s 19 19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m17.404s + 2.245s 22 20. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m18.259s + 3.100s 18 21. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m18.488s + 3.329s 22 22. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m19.099s + 3.940s 17 23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m19.147s + 3.988s 19 24. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m19.151s + 3.992s 19 All timing unofficial