Monday, July 22, 2024

Verstappen fastest in FP3 as Hamilton caused the red flag


Max Verstappen led a Red Bull 1-2 in final practice for the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix, as Lewis Hamilton’s late crash brought an early finish to proceedings in FP3.

Sergio Pérez set the first representative lap with 1m15.641s to reach the summit, managing to avoid Esteban Ocon stopping in the tunnel as the Alpine driver reported a loss of power.

The Frenchman put his car back in the pits after a quick reset on the steering wheel, but this forced him to spend the next twenty minutes in the garage.

Pierre Gasly found a glimmer of hope for Albin by going faster than Perez, but the Mexican responded with 1m 14.990 seconds to get back on top – steady from the Ferrari pair’s first quick laps on the soft surfaces.

Lando Norris then shaded Perez by 0.005s, until Lance Stroll put a 1m 14.763s on the table to sit briefly at the top of the session. The Canadian’s Perez served at a speed of 1m14.377s, as the circuit began to gain ground in terms of available grip.

Then he broke the barrier of 1m 14 seconds at the hands of Max Verstappen, who surpassed Perez by half a second, but he was surpassed by Fernando Alonso, the defending champion twice, and his time was 1m 13.697 seconds.

Pérez returned to the lead heading into the session’s opening half-hour, finding 10th on Alonso, but Verstappen found 0.004 seconds on his teammate to restore Red Bull’s 1-2 lead.

The two switched positions again, with Pérez finding a distance of 1min 13.289sec as Carlos Sainz dropped to second by just 0.09sec, until Verstappen raised the barrier again by 1min 12.898sec.

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While Perez hit back with a solid 1m12.849s, Verstappen put in a 1m12.776s to continue the Red Bull duo duo during Saturday’s practice session. This was later challenged by Stroll, but the Canadian was just under tenth off Perez’s challenge and was unable to split the RB19 ahead.

As the session moved into the final ten minutes, Kevin Magnussen made his pit stop at Sainte Devote and went on the escape route. Moments after his recovery, he stopped in Portiers and produced a virtual safety car – stopping Alonso’s potential tilt for the fastest lap because he had set the best first sector.

Moments after the session resumed at full speed, Hamilton put his Mercedes into the barrier at the Mirabeau exit. The Briton had just flashed the fastest opening sector, but passed the braking area and slid into Armco in front.

As a result of Hamilton’s stranded Mercedes extrication, the session was not restarted to ensure Verstappen’s time could not be challenged any further.

Perez and Stroll were the only other drivers in the first and twelfth laps, with Sainz being the fastest of the drivers in the 1m13s class to finish the session in fourth place.

Norris set the fifth best time on Gasly and Charles Leclerc, who reported struggling with the pool section and stated he needed to lift to exert any control of the Ferrari track.

Hamilton’s crash denied him a chance to improve on eighth place, as Ocon returned to the track after his previous troubles to claim the ninth-best time. Valtteri Bottas completed the top ten, fractions overtaken by George Russell.

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