Monaco Practice 3: Rosberg fastest as Maldonado crashes

Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03. Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday 24 May 2012.

Nico Rosberg was fastest in FP3

May 26 (GP247) Nico Rosberg topped the timing screens at the end of the one hour final free practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix at Monte Carlo, but the story of the morning was Spanish Grand Prix winner Pastor Maldonado slamming the front and the rear of his Williams FW34 into the safet barriers at Casino Square, with just a few minutes left to go in the session.

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2012. Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday 24 May 2012.Although Rosberg was fastest at the end of the 60 minutes, with a time of 1 minute 15.159 seconds which was only just the best time as, incredibly, 0.051 seconds separated him from the next best trio; Felipe Massa second, Sebastian Vettel third and Fernando Alonso fourth. Literally nothing separated the pole position candidates.

It was refreshing to see Massa rising to the occasion, and perhaps the pressure too, driving with assertiveness, precision and speed to claim the second best time. He has suddenly factored himself into the equation.

After a subdued Thursday at the Principality, Vettel finally showed that he too is a contender with third best time and as usual Alonso will be there or there about.

Ferrari have not won in Monaco since 2001, but they have set the fastest lap in five of the last eight races in the Principality and their last pole was with Alonso in Singapore, back in September 2010.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8. Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday 24 May 2012.Also likely to challenge for top spot on the grid will be Romain Grosjean who has been among the pace setters all weekend, oozing confidence, and his fifth best time suggested that the Lotus driver had not unleashed his best yet with the Super Softs bolted on. Prior to that he was easily the quickest driver on the yellow band Soft tyres and after FP3 sported a broad grin in the shadows of the Lotus pit garage.

Up next were the McLaren duo with Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton ending the session sixth and seventh.

Michael Schumacher was eighth, albeit 0.734 seconds down on his Mercedes teammate’s best at the top of the timing sheets.

Surviving a number of incidents was Sergio Perez who ended the morning ninth fastest in the Sauber, but survived a couple of very close calls. The first when he scraped the barrier all along the short straight between Rascasse and Anthony Nogues, then he nearly rear-ended Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India going into Anthony Nogues and at the very end had Maldonado chop across his nose cone going into Portier.

Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20. Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday 24 May 2012.Mark Webber, one second off Rosberg’s best, rounded out the top ten in the Red Bull RB8.

Notably down the order was Kimi Raikkonen, who has been on the back foot since the first session which he sat out as the team adjusted the steering in his Lotus E20. Since then it has been a case of catching up, compared to teammate Grosjean, the Iceman has some work to do.

The final practice session was pretty sedate affair – if you don’t count the shortcuts after the tunnel and the cock-ups at exiting the Swimming Pool complex – until the last five odd minutes.

First big moment went to Paul di Resta as his Force India ramped the bump exiting the tunnel, he got it sideways, the VJM05 travelled towards the chicane at 90 degrees and clipped the last metre of the Armco. No big damage done but a moment that conjured up visions of last year’s big moments that claimed Perez in a big way, as well as Massa.

Pastor Maldonado's Williams is returned to the pits after his FP3 shuntMinutes later Maldonado, who had spent the morning on full fuel runs, on a fresh set of Super Softs and low fuel got it all wrong and clipped the inside of Casino with the front of his Williams, this launched him across the track where he thumped the Armco vigourously, losing his right rear wheel in the process. Not a good time to be giving his mechanics extra work.

Predicting pole position is impossible, as a dozen drivers are capable of snatching top spot on the grid. And at Monaco the first grid slot is probably the most important of all this year – even taking into account the strategy roulette. Add to that the statistic that the driver on pole has won seven of the last 11 races in Monaco. Oh yes, and McLaren are targeting their 150th pole since their Spanish effort was declared null and void.

The aforementioned pole position? Your guess is as good as ours or anyone else for that matter…for the sake of it, we here at will stick our necks out and say Grosjean for pole!

Subbed by AJN.

Monaco Practice 3 – Saturday, 26 May 2012

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:15.159 25
2 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:15.197 0.038 21
3 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:15.209 0.050 20
4 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:15.210 0.051 20
5 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:15.445 0.286 18
6 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:15.471 0.312 19
7 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:15.734 0.575 19
8 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:15.893 0.734 23
9 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:16.110 0.951 14
10 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:16.219 1.060 19
11 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:16.226 1.067 20
12 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:16.301 1.142 21
13 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:16.311 1.152 19
14 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:16.479 1.320 20
15 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:17.027 1.868 20
16 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:17.055 1.896 26
17 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:17.276 2.117 25
18 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:17.390 2.231 19
19 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:17.404 2.245 22
20 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:18.259 3.100 18
21 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:18.488 3.329 22
22 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:19.099 3.940 17
23 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:19.147 3.988 19
24 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:19.151 3.992 19