Leclerc fastest but Vettel crashes in final Monaco practice

Image by Romney/LAT

Leclerc fastest but Vettel crashes in final Monaco practice

Formula 1

Leclerc fastest but Vettel crashes in final Monaco practice


Charles Leclerc set the fastest time of the final practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix, but Ferrari will not be celebrating after a crash for Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel crashed 16 minutes into the session when he locked up on the approach to Ste Devote and failed to get off the brakes enough to allow the car to turn. Too late to commit to the run-off area, Vettel went straight into the barrier and damaged the front left corner of the car and front wing, leaving Ferrari with a busy two hours to repair the car before qualifying.

Things could get even worse for Ferrari, as Leclerc was allegedly guilty of an infringement during the Virtual Safety Car period that was required while Vettel’s car was removed, which stewards are currently investigating.

Those incidents will temper the final result; the session ending with Leclerc posting a 1m11.265s to beat Valtteri Bottas by just 0.053s. Lewis Hamilton was quickest in both Thursday sessions but the championship leader appeared to struggle slightly in FP3, ending up 0.213s off Leclerc.

Max Verstappen was fourth for Red Bull and within striking distance at the front as well, with his best lap of 1m11.539 just a quarter of a second off the ultimate pace. Pierre Gasly backed up his teammate with the fifth-fastest time, 0.2s slower than Verstappen, and setting up a qualifying where three teams look capable of fighting for pole position.

Antonio Giovinazzi impressed for Alfa Romeo in sixth place – within a second of Leclerc – as his team and Toro Rosso looked the strongest of the midfield runners in FP3. Daniil KVyat was seventh ahead of Kevin Magnussen, with Kimi Raikkonen and Alexander Albon rounding out the top ten.

Kvyat just touched the wall on the exit of Portier before heading into the tunnel; the rear of his Toro Rosso stepping out as it dropped off the exit curb and nudging the barrier.

Aside from Vettel’s crash there were few significant errors, with Hamilton cutting the second part of the swimming pool section, repeating an mistake also made by Lando Norris. For the McLaren rookie it was a sign of a tricky session – he ended up 16th, one place behind teammate Carlos Sainz and ahead of only Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll – who had a big lock-up at Ste Devote and had to reverse from the run-off area – and the two Williams drivers.