Verstappen tops 3rd practice for Monaco GP before qualifying

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen has posted the fastest time in the third and final practice for the Monaco Grand Prix ahead of qualifying later

MONACO — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen posted the fastest time in the third and final practice for the Monaco Grand Prix ahead of qualifying later Saturday.

The Formula One championship contender led the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz Jr. and local favorite Charles Leclerc, with defending champion Lewis Hamilton only seventh fastest for Mercedes. His teammate Valtteri Bottas was fourth ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and McLaren’s Lando Norris in sixth.

Hamilton leads the championship by 14 points from Verstappen after four races, with Bottas already some distance behind them in third overall.

The 36-year-old Hamilton is bidding for a record-extending 101st pole and 99th race win. The 23-year-old Verstappen seeks a fifth career pole and 12th win.

An eventful third practice session was twice interrupted for crashes.

There was about 15 minutes left when Nicholas Latifi hit the barriers and mangled the front right wheel of his Williams. Then, with moments to go, Mick Schumacher crashed his Haas car and there was not enough time to restart.

Ferrari looked strong in Thursday’s first two sessions, with Leclerc topping P2 and Sainz Jr. second in both of them. That came as a relief for Ferrari after it struggled badly throughout last year in qualifying and on race day.

Leclerc is from Monaco and grew up in a flat overlooking the sinewy 3.4-kilometer (2.1-mile) circuit that snakes around the picturesque principality. He lives a 4-kilometer (2.5-mile) cycle ride from Monaco in Cap d’Ail, one of many small and scenic spots dotted along the French Riviera’s spectacular coastline.

Police stopped some buses coming through from Cap d’Ail — which is in France — into Monaco and checked people’s work permits. Security officials also checked passengers at the exit of Monaco-Monte Carlo train station, ensuring they had a negative PCR test for COVID-19 when entering the tiny principality.


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