Hamilton Back On Top In Monaco

Lewis Hamilton retook the honour of fastest man in Monaco when he topped the third and final practice session ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix. The Briton was behind Daniel Ricciardo for the bulk of the session but retook the top spot when he fitted the super-soft tyre compound. Ricciardo was only 0.050 behind the Championship leader as the session ended, hinting at a close battle for pole position between the two men. Also in with a shot at pole is Mercedes driver and last year’s race winner, Nico Rosberg, whose last run was cut short after the team took time to examine the back of his car, leaving him with less time on the super-soft compounds which will be used for the pole position lap. Sebastian Vettel was fourth in the other Red Bull, three tenths behind Rosberg and three tenths ahead of Fernando Alonso.

The best strategy seems to be to do a banker lap on the softer-compound before setting a hot lap on the next lap. This isn’t ideal, however, as the top ten drivers start the race with the tyres they set their fastest lap on, meaning that they will be running tyres two laps more worn than the drivers starting eleventh or lower.

As for the uneasiness shown by drivers on Thursday as they got used to the characteristics of the 2014 machines on the tight and windy streets of Monaco, they seemed to have gotten to grips with handling the cars. Hamilton, for example, had a scary moment at the fast left-hand Tabac corner where he was forced to engage opposite lock to prevent a crash. Jean-Eric Vergne also had problems in the final seconds of the session, first out-braking into Saint Devote, before reversing out and then out-braking into Mirabeau.

That’s the extent of the track action before Monaco and no one is any closer to being the obvious choice for pole. Hamilton or Ricciardo do seem to be the obvious contenders but in Monaco, where a yellow flag is almost as common as a green flag, or where traffic can make or break a lap, anything can happen – and anyone can be on pole.

Free Practice Three results:

  1. Lewis Hamilton
  2. Daniel Ricciardo
  3. Nico Rosberg
  4. Sebastian Vettel
  5. Fernando Alonso
  6. Kimi Raikkonen
  7. Sergio Perez
  8. Nico Hulkenberg
  9. Jean-Eric Vergne
  10. Daniil Kvyat
  11. Kevin Magnussen
  12. Jenson Button
  13. Valtteri Bottas
  14. Felipe Massa
  15. Adrian Sutil
  16. Romain Grosjean
  17. Jules Bianchi
  18. Pastor Maldonado
  19. Esteban Gutierrez
  20. Kamui Kobayashi
  21. Max Chilton
  22. Marcus Ericsson

Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

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