Lewis Hamilton bounced back to the top of the timing screens as Formula 1 action resumed in Monte Carlo after a one day hiatus, but it appears that Red Bull are very much in contention around the twists of the principality on the Cote D’Azure.
Under a bright blue sky, on a glorious day in Monte Carlo, Hamilton powered the Mercedes around the streets in a best time of 1:16.758, with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo next best, at a mere 0.050 of a second down on the the Briton.
Hamilton leads Rosberg, his main title rival, by three points after four successive one-two finishes in the last five races.
Hamilton has never qualified on pole position before at Monaco, although he won the race in 2008 with McLaren on his way to the title, but looks favourite to do so in later Qualifying.
Nico Rosberg was third in the other Mercedes, and Sebastian Vettel fourth fastest in the Red Bull – less than half a second separating the top four at the top of the timing screens – like the track: things are tight at the top!
Behind the top four a clear pecking order emerged.
Ferrari duo Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen ended the hour long session fifth and sixth respectively, the Maranello outfit performing above pre-race expectations in the practice sessions.
Up next were Force India drivers Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg in seventh and eighth, followed by Toro Rosso duo Jean Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat, the McLaren pair Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button, Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa.
At the sharp end Mercedes were almost a second quicker than their closest rivals on the harder yellow band Pirelli tyres, but the gap on the red band Super-soft compound shrunk to about 0.100 of a second.
A slight slip up by the Silver Arrows during Qualifying may tilt the advantage to Red Bull and give the world champions their first pole position of the season. (GP247)
Subbed by AJN.Monaco Grand Prix, Free Practice 3 – Saturday, 24 May 2014
|2||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:16.808||0.050|
|4||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:17.184||0.426|
|7||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:17.725||0.967|
|8||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:18.074||1.316|