Monaco FP3: Vettel and Ferrari keep the momentum

Sebastian Vettel

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel warmed up for qualifying at the Monaco Grand Prix with the fastest time in the third and final practice session on Saturday.

The four-time Formula One champion looks in scintillating form, clocking the fastest-ever lap time in Monaco to top Thursday’s second practice and setting a new mark Saturday with 1:12.395. The German driver will be confident of a 48th career pole position in qualifying later.

In a further boost for Ferrari, his teammate Kimi Raikkonen was second quickest Saturday with 1:12.74.

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was third quickest while teammate Lewis Hamilton could only manage fifth and was nearly one second behind Vettel. Teen star Max Verstappen’s Red Bull split the two Mercedes.

It has been a largely frustrating weekend for Mercedes so far. In Thursday’s second practice, the team botched a tire switch to the ultra-soft compound that saw Hamilton finishing P2 in eighth place with Bottas down in 10th.

Hamilton’s best mark this weekend so far was 1:13.425 when he topped P1 ahead of Vettel – his title rival.

Vettel leads the standings by six points ahead of three-time F1 champion Hamilton. They have won two races each and Bottas clinched the other.

P3 was briefly held up near the end after Esteban Ocon – driving at the Monaco GP for the first time – crashed his Force India.

Ocon misjudged a turn coming out near the Swimming Pool exit and went straight on into the barriers, mangling his car’s suspension.

The car was lifted off the track by crane and the 20-year-old Frenchman, who finished fifth at the Spanish GP two weeks ago, was unharmed.

The smallest braking mistake on Monaco’s tight and sinewy 3.4-kilometer (2.1-mile) circuit – through the winding streets of Monte Carlo, past its famed casino and around its glittering, yacht-dotted harbor – can send a driver into the barriers.

Ocon found that out the hard way, and his mechanics had two hours to get his car ready for qualifying.

Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo – Free Practice 3, Best Lap Times

15Sebastian VettelFERRARI1:12.395 23
27Kimi RäikkönenFERRARI1:12.740+0.345s26
377Valtteri BottasMERCEDES1:12.830+0.435s29
433Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING TAG HEUER1:12.940+0.545s27
544Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:13.230+0.835s27
63Daniel RicciardoRED BULL RACING TAG HEUER1:13.392+0.997s24
755Carlos SainzTORO ROSSO1:13.400+1.005s27
826Daniil KvyatTORO ROSSO1:13.563+1.168s23
920Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI1:13.596+1.201s21
102Stoffel VandoorneMCLAREN HONDA1:13.805+1.410s21
1111Sergio PerezFORCE INDIA MERCEDES1:13.936+1.541s23
1222Jenson ButtonMCLAREN HONDA1:13.976+1.581s26
1331Esteban OconFORCE INDIA MERCEDES1:14.072+1.677s21
1419Felipe MassaWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:14.072+1.677s28
1527Nico HulkenbergRENAULT1:14.283+1.888s24
168Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI1:14.547+2.152s23
1718Lance StrollWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:14.675+2.280s35
1830Jolyon PalmerRENAULT1:15.164+2.769s25
1994Pascal WehrleinSAUBER FERRARI1:15.291+2.896s29
209Marcus EricssonSAUBER FERRARI1:15.863+3.468s26