Sebastian Vettel sent out a warning shot to Mercedes during final practice for the Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday morning by finishing half a second clear for Ferrari at the top of the timesheets.
After Thursday’s second practice session has been washed out, all of the drivers opted to head out early to try and fit more running into the hour-long session, and it was Vettel who set the pace with a fastest lap time of 1:16.143.
Ferrari opted to bide its time at the start of the session before sending Vettel and teammate Kimi Raikkonen out for a lap as Mercedes set the early pace with Lewis Hamilton at the front of the field.
In the dying stages of FP3, Vettel made the switch to the super-soft compound tire with low fuel for a qualifying simulation and produced a scintillating lap to go fastest of all.
Nico Rosberg tried to respond in the Mercedes W06 Hybrid, but did not find enough time and eventually fell two-tenths of a second short. Hamilton was unable to post a fast lap at the end due to traffic, leaving him half a second down in third place ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen ran strongly for Toro Rosso once again in FP3, finishing fifth and ninth respectively. Verstappen was unable to get out for a late lap time after hitting the wall and suffering damage to his rear wing, but remains set for a Q3 place in qualifying later today.
Kimi Raikkonen ran well on the soft compound tire to sit sixth at the end of the session, although he was forced to curtail his running early after clipping the wall at turn one with his left-rear tire. Although the damage looked minor, Ferrari will still be facing a race against time to get his car ready for qualifying later today.
Daniil Kvyat backed up Ricciardo’s result in the sister Red Bull to finish seventh, whilst Jenson Button showed that McLaren does stand a chance of getting into Q3 by ending the session in eight place. Romain Grosjean rounded out the top ten behind Verstappen.
With Ferrari now also in the running for pole position, qualifying later today is poised to be a thrilling affair. Join us for the full session live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET.