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

Kovalainen tops practice 3, then crashes

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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Series Formula 1
Author Simon Strang
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