Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen beat Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz by just under five hundredths of a second to take top spot in the final practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix as Williams’ Nichola Latifi and Haas’ Mick Schumacher both suffered heavy crashes.
Despite heavy overnight rain there was little sign of drivers taking a risk averse approach to the session and after a short lull following the green lights being turned on, Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen got things going.
The Finn traded a couple of P1 times with team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi, but soon after Sainz and Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc joined the action and the pair quickly established an early hold on the top two spots on the timesheet. Leclerc eventually set the benchmark at 1:11.658.
Ferrari’s grip was broken by Verstappen. The Red Bull driver spent some time working his tyres up to temperature in the cool conditions but then stole P1 with a lap of 1m11.485s.
Sainz wasn’t done, however, and just before the field retired to the pit lane to prepare for their qualifying simulations he regained first place with a lap of 1:11.452s.
Ferrari were the first out on new softs but Leclerc’s first run was compromised by a mistake on the approach to Ste Devote and he was forced to use the escape road. Sainz, though, was able to put in a clean lap and he shaved more time off his own benchmark with a lap of 1:11.341.
The session was then briefly red-flagged. On the entry to the swimming pool section Latifi brushed the barrier with his front right wheel, which sent him bouncing across the inside kerb on exit and into the barrier on the right-hand side of the track.
After a five-minute delay the session re-started and Verstappen was first on track. Again he worked through a number of laps on the run before eventually delivering a lap that featured a purple second sector and personal bests at the start and end to claim top spot with a time of 1:11.294.
The session was brought to an end with over two minutes left on the clock when Schumacher brought out the red flags for a second time.
The Haas rookie carried too much speed out of Casino Square, lost the rear of his car and broadsided the barriers on the left side of the track.
Race control swiftly indicated that the session would not be re-started and that left Verstappen in P1 ahead of Sainz, with Leclerc in third place.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas took fourth ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio and McLaren’s Lando Norris, but Bottas’ team-mate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton finished in seventh place. The Briton complained of oversteer throughout.
Räikkönen finished eighth for Alfa Romeo, with Pierre Gasly and Sebastian Vettel closing out the top 10.
2021 FIA Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:11.294 19 168.502
2 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:11.341 0.047 28 168.391
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:11.552 0.258 27 167.894
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:11.765 0.471 21 167.396
5 Sergio Pérez Red Bull/Honda 1:11.817 0.523 18 167.275
6 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 1:11.988 0.694 20 166.877
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:12.020 0.726 20 166.803
8 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:12.298 1.004 25 166.162
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1:12.357 1.063 28 166.026
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:12.537 1.243 24 165.614
11 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:12.539 1.245 21 165.610
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:12.700 1.406 22 165.243
13 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 1:12.959 1.665 25 164.656
14 Mick Schumacher Haas/Ferrari 1:13.139 1.845 21 164.251
15 Fernando Alonso Alpine/Renault 1:13.329 2.035 19 163.826
16 Nikita Mazepin Haas/Ferrari 1:13.390 2.096 20 163.689
17 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1:13.447 2.153 29 163.562
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:13.475 2.181 22 163.500
19 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Honda 1:13.522 2.228 30 163.395
20 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 1:13.614 2.320 18 163.191