Watched by his world champion father Keke, Nico Rosberg had the bit firmly between his teeth on ‘home’ soil as he powered to top spot on the timing sheets in the third and final free practice of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, which took its toll as Felipe Massa, Adrian Sutil and Romain Grosjean all endured big shunts during the one hour session.
Rosberg grew up and currently lives at the principality, perhaps this initimate connection has him fired up. Apart part from scorching around in a time 1:14.378, a whopping 0.661 seconds faster than anyone else, he was also a second up on teammate Lewis Hamilton.
While Rosberg made it three out of three, topping all three practice sessions at Monaco, Romain Grosjean has thus far had a trio of accidents and he alone making sure the Lotus mechanics are earning their keep this weekend.
The Frenchman is undeniably quick, he ended the session second fastest, but he continues to be error prone despite the ‘therapy’ and censure he has been subjected to since early last year. Remember he caused the first lap shunt at the start of the Monaco race 12 months ago, tried to go over the top of everyone at Spa, got himself a sport therapist, was made to sweat for his 2013 drive by Lotus…
On the day, with a couple of minutes left in the session, at speed Grosjean lost the back end going into Sainte Devote, went sideways and then tried to correct it but slammed the barrier, bounced off it across the track before stopping in a steaming heap at the exit of the pitlane.
Rewind about half an hour, half way through the session: Massa was first victim of the Armco when the back of his Ferrari locked up, crashed straight into the barrier (still on the start straight) before bouncing out of control and slamming the barriers in the middle of Sainte Devote. All four ends of the F138 well and truly crunched. The Brazilian climbed out of the car clearly dazed and confused about the cause of the shunt.
A red flag period followed before they were unleashed again, and withing minutes Adrian Sutil clattered into the barriers at Massenet after losing the back end of his Force India up the hill through Beau Rivage with the soft tyres bolted on.
When the chequered flag waved to end an expensive session, championship leader Sebastian Vettel was third fastest in the Red Bull, with Fernando Alonso fourth in the Ferrari.
Lewis Hamilton was fifth and Kimi Raikkonen next up in the Lotus. Neither able to match the pace of their respective teammates, although Raikkonen kept it on the black stuff unlike his errant teammate.
Mark Webber was seventh in the Red Bull, with Force India’ s Paul di Resta eighth, Pastor Maldonado ninth in the Williams and Nico Hulkenberg rounding out the top ten with the Sauber.
Just out of the top ten were McLaren duo Sergio Perez and Jenson Button, 11th and 12th respectively.
The late shunts involving Sutil and minutes later Grosjean no doubt impeded most drivers who were either on a hot lap or about to start one, and this perhaps contributed to the relatively huge gap between Rosberg and the rest.
Whatever the case, Rosberg has his race face on and his fast lap was one of a driver in full swagger around a place he clearly loves. Yes we did see him slap the Armco as he exited Portier, before stepping on the loud pedal and disappear into the darkness of the tunnel. Masterful.
Monaco Grand Prix, Free Practice 3 – Saturday, 25 May 2013
|3||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:15.261||0.883||17|
|7||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:15.550||1.172||20|
|8||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:15.594||1.216||17|
|15||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:16.068||1.690||12|
|20||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:18.102||3.724||20|