Monaco Grand Prix practice: Leclerc fastest as Vettel crashes

Charles Leclerc edged out the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas to top third practice for the Monaco Grand Prix after Ferrari Formula 1 team-mate Sebastian Vettel crashed out early on

Monaco Grand Prix practice: Leclerc fastest as Vettel crashes

Leclerc ended the session 0.053 seconds faster than Bottas, with Lewis Hamilton a fraction behind, as circumstances conspired to prevent the rapid Red Bull of Max Verstappen from setting a more representative time. Verstappen ended the session fourth ahead of team-mate Pierre Gasly.

The Mercedes W10s carried red halos for the first time this weekend in deference to the passing of Niki Lauda, but both drivers ultimately failed to prevent the timesheet wearing red up top.

Bottas set the pace in the early running with a 1m12.238s, just a few tenths up on Vettel and Leclerc, but since Thursday's practice yielded times in the 1m11s bracket there remained plenty of room for improvement as the track evolved.

Hamilton's arrival on track was marginally delayed by last-minute adjustments to his W10 and when he did get going, just 10 minutes into the session, he complained of vibrations from the front axle. Nevertheless he soon got up to speed and had just demoted Vettel when the Ferrari departed the scene.

Vettel locked his front-right wheel and went off into the outside barrier at Ste Devote after completing just seven timed laps.

As Vettel's car was craned off the track and the lap times began to tumble, Verstappen rose to become the principal challenger to the two Mercedes.

By the end of the first runs Bottas was fastest of all with a 1m11.835s he clocked up towards the close of a 13-lap stint, while Hamilton was just 0.199s in arrears.

Verstappen was a further tenth off but running a shorter 10-lap stint, and seemingly unable to keep the tyres alive over a single lap - either being slow in the first sector but in the Mercedes ballpark in the final third, or vice versa.

Having failed to string together a properly quick lap in his opening run, Leclerc responded with a sizzling 1m11.265s lap at the beginning of his next stint, topping the timesheet by 0.053s as Bottas improved to 1m11.318s and Hamilton to 1m11.478s.

Verstappen's push laps during his second stint were frustrated by traffic and a brush with the barrier at Rascasse; had he been able to connect all the dots, his theoretical best at this point was 1m11.270s rather than the 1m11.539s he registered when crossing the line.

Hamilton was the first of the frontrunners to leave the pits for a qualifying simulation with three minutes of the session to run, followed in short order by Leclerc and Bottas, but traffic militated against any of them improving their times.

Antonio Giovinazzi was 'best of the rest' in sixth for Alfa Romeo behind Gasly, albeit half a second off the Red Bull's pace, with a 1m12.170s set late in the session.

The midfield margins were wafer thin: four tenths separated Giovinazzi from Daniil Kvyat, Kevin Magnussen, Kimi Raikkonen, Alexander Albon, Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo and Romain Grosjean.

Vettel was classified 14th as neither the McLarens, the Racing Points nor the Williams were able to surpass his early time.

Practice three times

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m11.265s - 26
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m11.318s 0.053s 27
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m11.478s 0.213s 27
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1m11.539s 0.274s 24
5 Pierre Gasly Red Bull/Honda 1m11.738s 0.473s 27
6 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1m12.170s 0.905s 23
7 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Honda 1m12.194s 0.929s 27
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m12.270s 1.005s 25
9 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1m12.308s 1.043s 27
10 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso/Honda 1m12.338s 1.073s 32
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m12.489s 1.224s 26
12 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1m12.519s 1.254s 26
13 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m12.566s 1.301s 27
14 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m12.583s 1.318s 7
15 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren/Renault 1m12.862s 1.597s 29
16 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1m12.914s 1.649s 26
17 Sergio Perez Racing Point/Mercedes 1m13.232s 1.967s 23
18 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 1m13.622s 2.357s 21
19 Robert Kubica Williams/Mercedes 1m14.086s 2.821s 27
20 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1m14.305s 3.040s 27



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