Fernando Alonso has emerged as a surprise candidate for pole position after going comfortably quickest in the final practice session at the Monaco Grand Prix.
A time of 1:14.433 was a head-turning effort at the end of the day – some 0.5 seconds faster than second-fastest man Jenson Button and a similar margin quicker than his fastest lap time on Thursday afternoon’s practice session.
Certainly on the back of the Ferrari team’s recent form, few would have expected the team to show decent pace here, but the Spaniard has been really fired up and could cause a stir in qualifying. And in what was a very good session for Ferrari, Felipe Massa finished the day third-fastest.
Good weather once again greeted the drivers as the action resumed after Monaco’s traditional Friday ‘rest day’, and Michael Schumacher was among the first to hit the track in order to get more miles under his belt.
The seven-time World Champion looked in good touch early in the session, heading the timesheets for the first half of the one-hour session and eventually ending it fifth-quickest, out-pacing Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber along the way.
The same could not be said for Schumacher’s Mercedes GP team-mate Nico Rosberg, who demonstrated how not to take advantage of what was clearly a good car set-up: have a crash.
In fairness, it’s probably too early to attribute blame to the German, but his accident – just eight minutes into the session – was pretty substantial. Rosberg lost control under braking for the Nouvelle Chicane and slammed into the barriers. He was lucky not to collect the same piece of Armco that Jenson Button clobbered in 2003, but his mechanics have plenty of work to do if he wants a shot at participating in qualifying.
Rosberg’s accident caused the session to be red-flagged, and once the action got going again, Alonso took the opportunity to move to the top of the timesheets.
Fourth-fastest was Sebastian Vettel, whose Red Bull team spent much of the session seemingly working on a race set-up, judging by their running on the soft-compound – as opposed to the super-soft – tyres for much of the session.
With Hamilton and Webber sixth- and seventh-fastest respectively, it was the two Toro Rosso drivers who showed their hand by finishing inside the top-ten, with Jaime Alguersuari quicker than Sébastien Buemi. Sauber driver Sergio Pérez completed the top-ten.
After showing little speed in the first two practice sessions, Paul di Resta was seemingly much happier on the super-soft tyres and finished the session 11th-fastest in his Force India, while team-mate Adrian Sutil – who had shown very solid pace on Thursday – languished down in 17th. He followed the two Renaults of Vitaly Petrov and Nick Heidfeld, who were some three seconds off the pace.
Merely five-hundredths slower than Sutil was Heikki Kovalainen, who must have given Team Lotus huge encouragement that it could break into Q2 this weekend.
Showing much improved pace, the HRT duo of Vitantonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan brought up the rear, but Liuzzi will also face an anxious wait before qualifying after he binned his F111 at Ste Devote with five minutes of the session to run.
2011 Monaco Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Session Times:
|1.||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari F150° Italia||1:14.433||18|
|2.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-26||+ 0.563||17|
|3.||Felipe Massa||Ferrari F150° Italia||+ 0.591||45|
|4.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Renault RB7||+ 0.812||46|
|5.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP W02||+ 0.877||33|
|6.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-26||+ 0.953||33|
|7.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Renault RB7||+ 1.096||42|
|8.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6||+ 2.184||43|
|9.||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6||+ 2.303||32|
|10.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C30||+ 2.388||47|
|11.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM04||+ 2.557||15|
|12.||Rubens Barrichello||Williams Cosworth FW33||+ 2.763||39|
|13.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Cosworth FW33||+ 2.900||49|
|14.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C30||+ 2.970||37|
|15.||Vitaly Petrov||Renault R31||+ 3.346||35|
|16.||Nick Heidfeld||Renault R31||+ 3.447||38|
|17.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM04||+ 3.636||46|
|18.||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus Renault T128||+ 3.682||50|
|22.||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02||+ 4.147||21|
|20.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02||+ 4.375||21|
|21.||Jarno Trulli||Lotus Renault T128||+ 4.826||19|
|22.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||HRT F1 Cosworth F111||+ 5.682||15|
|23.||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT F1 Cosworth F111||+ 5.845||16|
|24.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP W02||no time||3|
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