Max Verstappen topped a Red Bull 1-2 in final practice for the Monaco Grand Prix but none of the drivers were able to do a final flying lap after Lewis Hamilton brought out the reds when he crashed at Mirabeau.
As the clock counted down to the start of FP3, the final practice hour for the Monaco Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas found himself stuck in the garage as Alfa Romeo worked on the Finn’s steering. Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll were amongst the first drivers out, the Aston Martin team-mates putting in a lap on first a set of hard and the medium tyres in preparation for the race.
After a brief lull the action began to heat up only to pause with a yellow flag as Esteban Ocon came to a halt in the tunnel. A rear snap before he entered the tunnel had his Alpine go into anti-stall, a suspected hydraulic issue. He was able to get going and returned to pits where his mechanics worked on the front end of his Alpine.
Meanwhile Sergio Perez got the timesheet rolling with a 1:15.641 before lowering that to a 1:14.990, 0.068s faster than Carlos Sainz while Charles Leclerc was third in the early running.
Deemed a tyre master, while Williams complained about the tyres going off after one hot lap, Perez shaved further tenths off his time on his third flying lap only for his team-mate Max Verstappen, on his first hot lap of the session, to go quicker with a 1:13.794.
As the track conditions improved Alonso jumped the Red Bulls but his reign was short-lived with Perez and Verstappen coming back through into P1 and P2 respectively while local lad Leclerc had a brush with the Turn 14 wall. Verstappen did too, but that didn’t stop him from lowering the benchmark to a 1:13.583.
As Red Bull continued to battle it out at the sharp end, Verstappen and Perez trading P1 times, Sainz improved to third ahead of Leclerc while Lewis Hamilton in his revised Mercedes went fifth quickest.
Leclerc was not happy with the set-up of his SF-23 with the driver complaining he was “bottoming like crazy” at the turn into the Swimming Pool. He later told Ferrari they needed to make changes because he was having to lift and had “no control” over the car as it was. Alonso was also in the pits for set-up changes.
As the session entered its final 20 minutes there was the traditional lull in the action followed by qualifying simulations with Saturday afternoon’s running arguably the most important part of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend.
Despite having fresh soft Pirellis bolted on, most of the drivers were struggling to improve their times with traffic the biggest problem.
Alonso was down through all three sectors although his team-mate Stroll moved up to third, Verstappen backed off on his first attempt as too did Hamilton with Perez snuck past the Mercedes driver only to have to back off when he came across Sainz and Kevin Magnussen went the wrong way up an escape road only to return to the track to be told to “stop the car” due to a problem with his VF-23.
The VSC came out only for Hamilton to then bring out the red flags shortly after the track action resumed with the Mercedes driver into the barrier at Mirabeau, damaging the front left of his revamped W14. The front left of his car’s wing was wedged into the barrier. “Sorry,” he said.
With Race Control announcing that the session would not be restarted, FP3 ended with a 1-2 for Red Bull with Verstappen 0.073s ahead of Perez with Stroll third. As for Hamilton, while he made his way back to the pits, his W14 was lifted high above the circuit giving Mercedes’ rivals a good look at the car’s new floor.
1 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing 1:12.776
2 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +0.073
3 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +0.166
4 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +0.485
5 Lando NORRIS McLaren +0.620
6 Pierre GASLY Alpine+0.677
7 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.699
8 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +0.710
9 Esteban OCON Alpine +0.720
10 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +0.745
11 George RUSSELL Mercedes +0.814
12 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team +0.848
13 Nico HULKENBERG Haas F1 Team +0.874
14 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +0.921
15 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +0.962
16 Guanyu ZHOU Alfa Romeo +0.996
17 Logan SARGEANT Williams +1.075
18 Alexander ALBON Williams +1.154
19 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +1.222
20 Nyck DE VRIES AlphaTauri +1.411