Monaco GP: Leclerc’s home dream burns brightly in FP3 but don’t rule out Max Verstappen

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc and the Monaco barriers

Charles Leclerc and the Monaco barriers

Charles Leclerc topped Saturday’s final practice in Monaco, but there were clear indications Ferrari shouldn’t rule Max Verstappen out of the fight

The Ferrari driver clocked a 1:11.369 to follow up his Friday P1 with another fastest lap time while Verstappen was second, two-tenths down, with Lewis Hamilton P3.

Charles Leclerc shines on the street of Monaco

Set-up changes were the big topic at the start of Saturday’s final practice with Red Bull said to have made major changes overnight, Carlos Sainz too while George Russell was the first man out and reported his steering felt “very different to yesterday” and that there were “no vibrations”.

Kevin Magnussen laid down the opening salvo, a 1:14, but that was three seconds down on Friday’s P1 time set by Charles Leclerc. He was the only driver to clock a lap time in the first 10 minutes of FP3.

Lewis Hamilton replaced him at the top of the timesheet only for his former team-mate Valtteri Bottas to bring his run to an end as he crashed his Stake. Hitting the Turn 16 barrier with his front right, Bottas broke his suspension and stopped on the track with Hamilton misjudging his line and finding himself blocked by the Finn.

Bottas’ car was quickly removed and the session was back underway with 44 minutes on the clock.

Kevin Magnussen found himself the wrong way up an escape road, Carlos Sainz cut the chicane to avoid an RB, Hamilton visited the Ste Devote run-off and Oscar Piastri went quickest with a 1:12.8, P1 ahead of the Ferrari team-mates.

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As expected the Monaco traffic caused many a headache with Max Verstappen complaining as he found himself in a queue while Kevin Magnussen called Yuki Tsunoda’s block in the tunnel “very dangerous”. Sergio Perez, meanwhile, called Zhou Guanyu an “idiot”.

Charles Leclerc hit the front mid-way through the session with a 1:12.2, the Monegasque driver 0.2s up on Carlos Sainz with Verstappen a further tenth off the pace after a clean lap. “Solid lap” was the verdict from the Red Bull pit wall, Verstappen replying that he knows “where” he can gain time.

Meanwhile, Hamilton was told where he was losing time to Leclerc, Turns 15/16 with Mercedes telling him he was level with the Ferrari driver until then.

Bolting on a fresh set of soft tyres, Leclerc upped his pace to an impressive 1:11.3, putting him six-tenths up on Sainz with Lewis Hamilton a further 0.04s down.

Despite his advantage over the chasing pack, Leclerc was back out in the final 10 minutes with Ferrari have made a few turns to his front wing angle.

Verstappen upped his pace to go second but was still six-tenths down on the Ferrari driver, and then went purple in the first sector to close the gap to 0.197s. But he wasn’t happy, telling Red Bull if he did more laps like that he’d “end up in the f***ing fence”. His final flying lap, another purple, was wrecked by traffic.

The session ended with Leclerc P1 ahead of Verstappen and Hamilton.


1 Charles LECLERC 1:11.369
2 Max VERSTAPPEN +0.197
3 Lewis HAMILTON +0.341
4 Oscar PIASTRI +0.532
5 Sergio PEREZ+0.554
6 George RUSSELL+0.599
7 Carlos SAINZ +0.610
8 Lando NORRIS +0.619
9 Yuki TSUNODA +0.622
10 Fernando ALONSO +0.718
11 Pierre GASLY +0.775
12 Alexander ALBON +0.811
13 Nico HULKENBERG +0.823
14 Kevin MAGNUSSEN +0.847
15 Lance STROLL +0.962
16 Esteban OCON +1.103
17 Logan SARGEANT +1.334
18 Daniel RICCIARDO +1.460
19 Guanyu ZHOU +2.461
20 Valtteri BOTTAS no time

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