F1 Monaco: Charles Leclerc tops FP3 for Ferrari, Vettel Crashes

Charles Leclerc edged out the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas in third practice for the 2019 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix after Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel crashed out early on.

Charles Leclerc ended the session 0.053s faster than Valtteri Bottas, with Lewis Hamilton a fraction behind, as circumstances conspired to prevent the rapid Red Bull of Max Verstappen from setting a more representative time. Max Verstappen ended the session fourth ahead of teammate Pierre Gasly.

Valtteri Bottas set the pace in the early part of this session with a 1m12.238s, just a few tenths faster than Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, but since Thursday’s practice yielded times in the 1m11s bracket there was plenty of room for improvement as the track evolved.

Lewis Hamilton’s start of FP3 was a bit later as the team made some last-minute adjustments to his W10 and when he did get going, just 10 minutes into the session, he complained of vibrations from the front axle. Nevertheless, he soon got up to speed and had just demoted Vettel when he locked up the brakes on his Ferrari and departed the scene.

Vettel locked his front-right wheel and went off into the outside barrier at Ste Devote after completing just seven timed laps. As his car was craned off the track and the lap times began to go down, Verstappen seemed to become the principal challenger to the two Mercedes’.

By the end of the first runs, Bottas was fastest of all with a 1m11.835s he clocked up towards the close of a 13-lap stint, while Hamilton was just 0.199s behind him.

Verstappen was a further tenth off the pace but running a shorter 10-lap stint, and seemingly unable to keep the tyres alive over a single lap – either being slow in the first sector but in the Mercedes ballpark in the final third, or vice versa.

Having failed to put together a properly quick lap in his opening run, Leclerc responded with a sizzling 1m11.265s lap at the beginning of his next stint, topping the time sheet by 0.053s as Bottas improved to 1m11.318s and Hamilton to 1m478s.

Verstappen’s push laps during his second stint were frustrated by traffic and a brush with the barrier at Rascasse; had he been able to connect all the dots, his theoretical best at this point was 1m11.270s rather than the 1m11.539s he registered when crossing the line.

Lewis Hamilton was the first of the frontrunners to leave the pits for a qualifying simulation with three minutes of the session left to run, followed in short order by Charles Leclerc and Valtteri Bottas, but traffic militated against any of them improving their times.

Antonio Giovinazzi was “best of the rest” in sixth place behind Gasly, albeit half a second off the Red Bull’s pace, with a 1m12.170s lap time set late in the session.

The midfield margins were very thin: just four tenths separated Antonio Giovinazzi from Daniil Kvyat, Kevin Magnussen, Kimi Raikkonen, Alexander Albon, Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo and Romain Grosjean.

Vettel was classified 14th as neither the McLaren’s, the Racing Points nor the Williams were able to surpass his early time.

Source: Motorsport Network

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