Ferrari’s Monaco preparations took a hit – quite literally – in final practice on Saturday morning, as Sebastian Vettel put his car into the Turn 1 wall barely a quarter of an hour into the session. To make up for it, though, team mate Charles Leclerc beat Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas to P1 – albeit by just 0.053s.
After some last-minute set-up changes at the start of the hour, Lewis Hamilton took his Silver Arrow – with red halo in remembrance of Niki Lauda – to third place, two-tenths down on Leclerc, while Red Bull remained very much in the mix, with Max Verstappen fourth ahead of team mate Pierre Gasly.
Antonio Giovinazzi’s strong weekend form continued with a very impressive P6 for Alfa Romeo, the Italian separated from team mate Kimi Raikkonen in the times by Toro Rosso’s Danill Kvyat, who survived a brush with the barriers at the tunnel entrance, and the Haas of Kevin Magnussen.
Thursday star Alexander Albon completed the top ten in the second Toro Rosso, ahead of the Renault duo of Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo.
Vettel’s off was the only major incident of the session. The four-time champion simply locked up and ran straight on into barriers at Sainte Devote. The impact – and mercifully the damage to his car – did not appear too severe, so Ferrari should have no problem affecting repairs in time for qualifying.
That accident triggered the Virtual Safety Car, and Leclerc was summoned to the stewards post-session for not keeping to the required lap time window. There were fears of a potential grid penalty, but the Monegasque driver escaped with a reprimand.
In other incidents, Racing Point’s Lance Stroll had a high-speed, but ultimately painless trip down the Sainte Devote escape road, while Verstappen clouted the wall through the final turn late in the hour.
So, a mouth-watering fight for pole awaits us, with Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull all very much in the fight for that all-important P1 grid slot in Monte Carlo.
2019 Monaco Grand Prix – FP3 Results: