Verstappen is fastest in FP3 as Hamilton causes a red flag

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

Sergio Perez managed to avoid Esteban Ocon, who stopped in the tunnel as the Alpine driver reported a loss of power, to go up with a 1m15.641s on the first representative lap.

The Frenchman returned his car to the pits after a quick reset at the steering wheel, but this forced him to spend the next 20 minutes in the garage.

Pierre Gasly showed confidence on the Alpine by going faster than Perez, but the Mexican responded with a 1m14.990s to go back up – the Ferrari pair firmly holding on to the softs from the pair’s first fastest lap.

Lando Norris then eclipsed Perez by 0.005s, with Lance Stroll briefly on the table at 1m14.763s to top the session. As the lap began to progress in terms of available grip, Perez quickly dispatched the Canadian with a 1m14.377s.

The 1m14s barrier was later broken by Max Verstappen, who went half a second clear of Perez, but was overtaken by fellow two-time champion Fernando Alonso and his 1m13.697s lap.

Perez returned to head the order as the opening half-hour of the session drew to a close, a tenth ahead of Alonso, but Verstappen found himself 0.004 seconds clear of his team-mate to restore Red Bull’s lead to 1-2.

The two swapped places again, with Perez clocking 1m13.289s, with Carlos Sainz just 0.09s back in second, Verstappen’s 1m12.898s raising the bar again.

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While Perez hit back with 1m12.849s, Verstappen continued Red Bull’s double in Saturday’s practice session with 1m12.776s. It was later challenged by Stroll, but the Canadian could not separate the RB19s in front as he was just a tenth shy of challenging Perez.

As the session moved into the final 10 minutes, Kevin Magnussen left St Devot early and headed for the escape route. Minutes after his recovery, he stopped Portier and produced a virtual safety car – stopping a potential Alonso tilt on the fastest lap as he set the best first sector.

Minutes after the session resumed at full speed, Hamilton put his Mercedes at the exit barrier at Mirabeau. The Briton flashed up with a fast opening sector, but overshot his braking section and slipped to the front of Armco.

The session was not restarted to ensure that Verstappen’s time could not be further challenged as a result of Hamilton’s stalled Mercedes concession.

Perez and Stroll were the other drivers in the 1m12s as Sainz finished fourth among those in the 1m13s bracket.

Norris claimed the fifth best time ahead of Gasly and Charles Leclerc, who reported struggles in the swimming pool section and said he needed to lift to exert any control over Ferrari’s track.

Hamilton’s crash denied him the chance to improve to eighth, with Ocon returning to set the ninth-best time after his earlier problems. Valtteri Bottas completed the top 10, a fraction higher than George Russell.

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