FP3: Leclerc quickest…and avoids grid drop

Michelle Foster

FP3: Charles Leclerc quickest but under investigation

Charles Leclerc showed Ferrari’s pace in FP3 in Monaco and thankfully it did not come to naught after being under investigation for breaking VSC rules.

The F1 drivers had a busy start to final practice as, with a 40 percent chance of rain during the session, track time in the dry was potentially limited.

One driver who took his time venturing out of the pits was Lewis Hamilton. While his rivals headed out, Mercedes worked furiously to change the set-up of his W10 while the Brit watched over.

George Russell was the first to put in a timed lap, a 1:17 for the Williams rookie.

The P1 time dropped fast with Daniel Ricciardo, Alexander Albon and Leclerc all spending at the top. And then came Mercedes.

10 minutes into the session Valtteri Bottas went quickest with a 1:12.764 while the Ferraris lined up behind him.

Bottas improved to a 1:12.238 while Hamilton went second, 0.2s down. He was quickest in the first two sectors but lost time in the third.

Sainte Devote was – as often witnessed – the scene of the session’s first crash: it was Sebastian Vettel.

He locked up the front left and crashed nose first in the barrier. His Ferrari lost its front wing.

The Virtual Safety Car made a brief appearance as the marshals removed the stricken Ferrari.

With that done it was back to the action for the remaining 19 drivers with Hamilton laying down a 1:12.034 to go P1 before Bottas responded with a 1:11.835.

Red Bull joined the mix as Max Verstappen jumped up to third place, Pierre Gasly went fifth behind Leclerc.

Ferrari’s troubles continued as the race stewards announced that Leclerc was under investigation for an infringement during the VSC period – the VSC having been out for his team-mate’s crash.

Leclerc put his problems – and the potential grid drop that could result from the investigation – aside and went quickest with a 1:11.265.

After meeting with the stewards 15 minutes after the session, he was just given a reprimand.

Bottas upped his pace but remained second, 0.053s down, while Hamilton also went faster but stayed third.

Lance Stroll added his name of the list of those getting it wrong at Ste Devote. His lock up took place earlier than Vettel’s meaning he could straight line the corner and take to the escape road rather than the barrier.

Verstappen was fourth for FP3, finishing ahead of Gasly, Antonio Giovinazzi, Daniil Kvyat and Kevin Magnussen.

Kimi Raikkonen and Albon completed the top ten.

Williams were once again slowest of all with Robert Kubica 0.2s up on Russell.

1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:11.265 24 laps
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.053s 26 laps
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.213s 26 laps
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.274s 23 laps
5 Pierre Gasly Red Bull 0.473s 25 laps
6 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 0.905s 22 laps
7 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 0.929s 27 laps
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1.005s 24 laps
9 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 1.043s 26 laps
10 Alex Albon Toro Rosso 1.073s 31 laps
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1.224s 25 laps
12 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1.254s 25 laps
13 Romain Grosjean Haas 1.301s 26 laps
14 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1.318s 7 laps
15 Carlos Sainz McLaren 1.597s 27 laps
16 Lando Norris McLaren 1.649s 24 laps
17 Sergio Perez Racing Point 1.967s 22 laps
18 Lance Stroll Racing Point 2.357s 20 laps
19 Robert Kubica Williams 2.821s 26 laps
20 George Russell Williams 3.040s 26 laps

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