Nico Rosberg has gone quickest in the final practice session at Monaco

Nico Rosberg has narrowly emerged as the fastest driver in a closely-fought final practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix, with the Mercedes driver just edging out Sebastian Vettel and the Ferrari pairing of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso for top spot. The top-four were covered by just five-hundredths of a second.

The session was red-flagged in the closing minutes after a contentious incident between Sergio Pérez and Pastor Maldonado, which led to the latter crashing out of the session less than a lap later.

Maldonado chopped across the bows of the Mexican at the pair disputed track position at Portier, and just a lap later it was Maldonado who crashed after clipping the inside wall at Casino Square. The winner of the last Grand Prix in Spain bounced across to the outside barrier, plucking his left-rear wheel off his Williams FW34. His team has a mountain of repairwork to complete ahead of today’s qualifying session, while many tip he will be summoned to the FIA Stewards’ office to explain himself.

Just minutes before, fans saw Paul di Resta’s Force India limping to the pits with a damaged front end after the Scot lost his car under braking for the Nouvelle Chicane.

Felipe Massa was an impressive second-fastestUp at the sharp end of the field, it was Rosberg who would emerge on top, narrowly edging out an impressive Felipe Massa, who finished the session in the giddy heights of second-fastest on the timesheets.

Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso both clocked late efforts to move into third and fourth place respectively.

Romain Grosjean – tipped by many as the most likely to claim pole and the win here – finished up fifth-quickest in his Lotus, finishing ahead of the McLaren pairing of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, neither of whom was able to execute a traffic-free lap in the session.

Michael Schumacher finished the session eighth-fastest, and he’ll be looking for a strong qualifying effort in light of the five-place grid penalty he’s carrying for his collision with Bruno Senna at the Spanish Grand Prix, while Pérez and Mark Webber (unable to have a clean lap) round out the top ten.

Kimi Räikkönen – deprived of much practice running so far this weekend – finished up twelfth-fastest in the second Lotus F1 entry.

This afternoon’s qualifying session looks set to be an intensely-fought affair with a number of possible candidates challenging for top honours. And although the weather remained dry for the morning’s running, there is still the possibility of rain this afternoon, which could really spice things up. Expect a few surprise results…

2012 Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Session Times:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:15.159   13
2. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:15.197 + 0.038 21
3. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:15.209 + 0.050 20
4. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:15.210 + 0.051 20
5. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:15.445 + 0.286 18
6. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:15.471 + 0.312 19
7. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:15.734 + 0.575 19
8. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:15.893 + 0.734 23
9. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C31 1:16.110 + 0.951 14
10. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:16.219 + 1.060 19
11. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:16.226 + 1.067 20
12. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:16.301 + 1.142 21
13. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari C31 1:16.311 + 1.152 19
14. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:16.479 + 1.320 20
15. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:17.027 + 1.868 20
16. Bruno Senna BRA Williams Renault FW34 1:17.055 + 1.896 26
17. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Caterham Renault CT01 1:17.276 + 2.117 25
18. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:17.390 + 2.231 19
19. Vitaly Petrov RUS Caterham Renault CT01 1:17.404 + 2.245 22
20. Timo Glock DEU Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:18.259 + 3.100 18
21. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW34 1:18.488 + 3.329 22
22. Charles Pic FRA Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:19.099 + 3.940 17
23. Narain Karthikeyan IND HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:19.147 + 3.988 19
24. Pedro de la Rosa ESP HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:19.151 + 3.992 19

Our interview with Sir Jack Brabham will be online in early June!

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.