Monaco GP - Saturday - Practice Session 3 Report

Three For Three in FP3

Nico Rosberg, Monaco GP 2013

Nico Rosberg, Monaco GP 2013 

 © The Cahier Archive

Nico Rosberg maintained his dominance in Monaco by clocking the fastest time – a 1:14.378 – in his Mercedes in Free Practice 3 on Saturday morning. The German who resides in Monaco was also quickest in both practice sessions on Thursday, and so he made it three for three in FP3.

Romain Grosjean ended up second best with a time of 1:15.039 in his Lotus but crashed with less than two minutes to go. Grosjean accident prevented many drivers from doing their final flat-out lap, but it's doubtful that any of them had the speed to beat Rosberg who was the only driver in the 1:14s and a full second ahead of Kimi Raikkonen who was sixth on the list with a time of 1:15.380.

Sebastian Vettel looked strong in the first half of the session in his Red Bull but wound up third with a 1:15.261. Fernando Alonso was fourth in his Ferrari with a 1:15.286 and Lewis Hamilton fifth with a time of 1:15.311 in his Mercedes.

The one hour session lasted just over 30 minutes before the real drama began.

35 minutes into the session, Felipe Massa locked up the front brakes on his Ferrari heading into St. Devote, the first turn. The car veered left into the barriers, knocking the left front wheel askew, and then plowed ahead into the barriers, knocking the right front wheel askew. He was unhurt.

The session was red flagged until the 42 minute mark.

Fastest at this time was Vettel ahead of Mercedes teammates Rosberg and Hamilton, Red Bull's Mark Webber and Alonso.

Four minutes later, Adrian Sutil slammed the right side of his Force India into the outside barriers at Massenet, the left-hander turn that leads into Casino Square. He hopped out unhurt and a crane lifted his car off the track.

So far the drivers had been using Pirelli's yellow side-walled soft compound slicks.

With 10 minutes remaining, Grosjean, with a set of the super soft red side-walled Pirellis fitted to his Lotus, took over the top spot with a time of 1:15.051 which beat Vettel's 15:261.

And soon the other drivers were switching to the reds. Rosberg turned a 1:14.378 while the fast but erratic Grosjean had to take the escape road at Mirabeau.

With 5 minutes remaining, Massa and Sutil were the only drivers not on the track. Grosjean lowered his time to a 1:15.039 to hold onto second place.

Then, with just over a minute to go, Grosjean, possibly distracted by a Mercedes coming out of the pits, got sideways into St. Devote and hit sideways into the barriers on the outside of the turn. That ripped off his left rear wheel and his car slid across to the other side of the track.

That brought out the red flag and ended the session as well as any drivers' chances of beating Rosberg's time. The final order in FP3, therefore, was probably not a reflection of what the lap times and the final order would be after the all-important qualifying that afternoon.

Attacking and going over the high curbs is essential to getting a fast lap around the Monaco streets.

"You need to take them to be quick here in Monaco," Williams driver Pastor Maldonado said. "If you are not crossing them you lose time. There are some ways to take them, which are is not easy, and if you miss (hitting the curb just right) you crash, there is no option. It's for qually."

And setting a fast lap in qually – qualifying – is crucial for this particular race because overtaking is so difficult in the narrow barrier-lined circuit.

"Here 80 percent of the race (is all determined) in all in qually," Maldonado said, "and you have 20 percent between the start and what happened in the race."

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