Monaco, FP3: Leclerc tops final practice as Vettel crashes out

Vettel crashes in final Monaco practice

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By Olivier Ferret

25 May 2019 - 13:06
Monaco, FP3: Leclerc tops final (...)

Charles Leclerc topped the final practice session for his home Monaco Grand Prix, with the Ferrari driver beating Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas by just five hundredths of a second, with Lewis Hamilton third. There was trouble for Leclerc’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel who crashed out early in the session.

With 17 minutes on the clock Vettel was third on the timesheet as drivers worked their way into session. The German was winding out for another quick lap on soft tyres but he locked up into the Sainte Devote right-hander at the start of the lap and went straight on into the barriers.

The impact was not a heavy one but it was enough to break the front wing and front left suspension of his Ferrari. His car was swiftly craned away and he played no further part in the session.

That left Leclerc to fly the flag for Ferrari and initially it looked like the Monegasque driver would struggle against the pace of Mercedes and, possibly, with the regulations.

Vettel’s crash led to the deployment of the Virtual Safety Car and when the period ended, Race Control reported that following the session it would investigate a possible VSC procedure infringement by the Ferrari driver.

Initially, too, Leclerc had little response to the pace of Bottas and Hamilton who traded P1 times in the first half hour, with Bottas eventually coming out on top with a time of 1:11.835. With half an hour gone, Leclerc was in fourth place, behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.

The picture changed with 25 minutes left in the session, as the field set about their qualifying simulations. Bottas held P1 with a time of 1:11.338 but Leclerc, looking to be right on the limit, quickly posted a lap of 1:11.265 to edge the Finny by just 0.053s. Hamilton, who crossed the line, soon after could only manage a time of 1:11.478 to finish two tenths of a second behind Leclerc.

Fourth place in the session went to Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen. The Dutch driver set a best time of 1:11.539 to finish the session just 0.274 off Leclerc’s benchmark.

Bothe Verstappen and team-mate Pierre Gasly completed a sequence of qualifying simulations as the brought the soft tyres into the optimum range with Gasly in particular chipping away steadily at this time. The Frenchman gradually worked his way down to a best time of 1:11.738, 0.473 off Leclerc and 0.199s off team-mate Verstappen.

The top five were the only drivers to lap below 1m12s, and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi took sixth place with a good late lap of 1:12.070, over four tenths behind Gasly. He was followed by Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat who lapped just 0.025s slower then the Italian. Kimi Räikkönen took ninth place in the second Alfa Romeo and 10thplace went to Alex Albon in the second Toro Rosso.

Pos.DriverCarTimeLaps
01 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF90 1:11.265 26
02 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W10 1:11.318 27
03 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W10 1:11.478 27
04 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB15 1:11.539 24
05 Pierre Gasly Red Bull Honda RB15 1:11.738 27
06 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C38 1:12.170 23
07 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Honda STR14 1:12.194 27
08 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-19 1:12.270 25
09 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C38 1:12.308 27
10 Alex Albon Toro Rosso Honda STR14 1:12.338 32
11 Nico Hülkenberg Renault RS19 1:12.489 26
12 Daniel Ricciardo Renault RS19 1:12.519 26
13 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari VF-19 1:12.566 27
14 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari SF90 1:12.583 7
15 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault MCL34 1:12.862 29
16 Lando Norris McLaren Renault MCL34 1:12.914 26
17 Sergio Pérez Racing Point Mercedes RP19 1:13.232 23
18 Lance Stroll Racing Point Mercedes RP19 1:13.622 21
19 Robert Kubica Williams Mercedes FW42 1:14.086 27
20 George Russell Williams Mercedes FW42 1:14.305 27

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