Formula One: Vettel quickest in final practice

 28 May 2016 - 13:28

Formula One: Vettel quickest in final practice
Ferrari's German driver Sebastian Vettel drives during the third practice session at the Monaco street circuit, on May 28, 2016 in Monaco, one day ahead of the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix. / AFP / Valery HACHE

Monte Carlo, Principality of Monaco: Sebastian Vettel topped the times for Ferrari ahead of the two Mercedes in Saturday morning's third and final free practice session for Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix.

The four-time world champion from Germany clocked a best time in one minute and 4.650 seconds to outpace nearest rival Lewis Hamilton of Britain by 0.018 seconds and offer hopes of a belated revival by the Italian team.

Vettel and Ferrari have not claimed a pole position since the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix last September, the scene also of their last victory.

Championship-leading German Nico Rosberg was one-tenth of a second further adrift in third place ahead of Daniel Ricciardo who was unable to reproduce the speed in his Red Bull that had made him quickest in Thursday's practice.

The Australian's Red Bull team-mate record-breaking Dutch teenager Max Verstappen was fifth, four-tenths off the pace, ahead of the man he deposed in the team, Russian Daniil Kvyat for Toro Rosso.

Spaniard Carlos Sainz was seventh in the second Toro Rosso, just behind his new team-mate who once again showed a dogged determination to shine after his demotion.

Mexican Sergio Perez was eighth for Force India ahead of Finn Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari and German Nico Hulkenberg in the second Force India.

The session was run in warm and dry conditions under a blue sky, but continued to produce incidents with a succession of drivers sliding down escape roads before Dutchman Verstappen hit the barriers at Massenet after locking up.

His right front section of the Red Bull car was damaged, but he managed to return to the pits and re-appeared after repairs in the closing seconds.

Vettel also experienced a big 'moment' when he lost control of his car at the chicane, but without damage. "I lost the car massively under braking," he told the Ferrari team. "Didn't touch anything, but can you have a look?"

His speed on his best lap did not match Ricciardo's lap on Thursday, but augured well for qualifying later on Saturday when the top teams will fight for pole position in what promises to be a very closely-fought battle.

In this session, the top seven cars - including four from the Red Bull stable - were separated by less than seven-tenths of a second and the top four by less than two-tenths. 

AFP