Ricciardo tops final practice by 0.001s as Verstappen crashes

Image by Andy Hone/LAT

Ricciardo tops final practice by 0.001s as Verstappen crashes

Formula 1

Ricciardo tops final practice by 0.001s as Verstappen crashes

Daniel Ricciardo set the fastest time of the final practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix by 0.001s but teammate Max Verstappen crashed out late on and faces a race against time to be ready for qualifying.

The Dutchman was quick throughout the session and was top of the timing screens with less than 10 minutes remaining when he made an error at the Swimming Pool and hit the wall. Turning in at the second part of the complex, Verstappen hit the inside barrier with his right-front tire and broke his suspension, causing him to launch straight over the next curb and hit the wall hard on the outside of the corner.

The incident heavily damaged the right-front corner of Verstappen’s car and leaves Red Bull with a busy two hours before qualifying in order to repair the car.

The marshals were impressive in quickly clearing the damaged Red Bull and allowing the session to resume with four minutes remaining, and Ricciardo duly headed back out to pip his teammate by the smallest of margins with a 1m11.786s to ensure he topped all three practice sessions.

Verstappen’s time of 1m11.787s left him nearly a quarter of a second clear of Sebastian Vettel in third place, a gap that could be bridged by Ferrari turning up its power unit in qualifying. Kimi Raikkonen was just over 0.1s further back in fourth on a 1m12.142s, with Lewis Hamilton in fifth the only other car within half a second of the Red Bulls.

Valtteri Bottas ended up in sixth place at 1m12.356s but had an embarrassing moment after going straight on at Ste Devote. The Finn was attempting to spin his car around in order to rejoin the track but failed to do so cleanly in the tight run-off area and hit the barrier with his rear wing, requiring the team to change it in the pits.

The incident perhaps showed why Verstappen opted to reverse out of the same spot on Thursday — a move for which the Red Bull driver escaped punishment after an investigation — and that was an approach followed by both Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll after locking up into the same corner. Sainz locked both front wheels early under braking and came perilously close to the barrier before releasing the brakes and taking to the run-off area.

Lance Stroll smokes his tire (Image by Glenn Dunbar/LAT)

Stroll’s excursion followed a big lock-up at the Nouvelle Chicane on the previous lap, while there was also an off-track moment for Romain Grosjean at Mirabeau but on each occasion the drivers were able to rejoin without damage.

Away from those incidents, there was an impressive showing from Toro Rosso as Brendon Hartley was seventh and Pierre Gasly eighth, with both drivers within a second of Ricciardo’s time. Carlos Sainz and Sergey Sirotkin rounded out the top 10, with Stoffel Vandoorne in 11th and Esteban Ocon in 12th — the latter just 0.188s off P7 in a sign of how tight the midfield battle will be in qualifying.

Haas again struggled after a difficult Thursday, with Grosjean 18th and Kevin Magnussen in 19th both over two seconds off the pace.

-Chris Medland

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