Scuderia Ferrari man Carlos Sainz was fastest in Practice One and looked strong in the second session, before crashing at the Swimming Pool Chicane. As many drivers have done over the years, the Spaniard nudged the inside barrier at Turn 16, which broke his suspension and he went straight on, into the outside wall. Still, the SF-23 car looked strong on Friday and expectations are high for the rest of the Monaco weekend for the Maranello team.
It was very sunny in Monaco but the track temperature was slightly cooler than yesterday at 44 degrees Celsius. The track would evolve a lot throughout the day as the drivers gain confidence and hope any set-up changes they have made, pay off.
Green light on in the pit lane, the final 60 minutes of practice in Monaco were under way on the streets of Monte Carlo. These 20 drivers needed to gain their confidence to the max ahead of this afternoon’s crucial qualifying session.
One of the best days in world motorsport, Monaco qualifying on a Saturday. Charles Leclerc was head down as he headed towards his car and prepared to climb into his No 16 car with all the weight of expectation from his home country and worldwide legion of fan.
Lance Stroll, Fernando Alonso, Yuki Tsunoda and Nyck de Vries were out on track, while everyone else sat in the pit lane. The fastest time yesterday was a 1:12.462 from Max Verstappen in second practice. Esteban Ocon stopped in the tunnel but gets going again: “I had no power guys,” he said.
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With 42 minutes to go in the final free practice session to go, Lando Norris climbed into first place with a 1:14.905, which put him 0.085s ahead of Sergio Perez. There was still no sign of Max Verstappen or the Mercedes drivers emerging onto the streets of Monaco yet. Lance Stroll briefly went quickest but Sergio Perez knocked him off top spot by going fastest in all three sectors to do a 1:14.377. That was still nearly two seconds quicker than Max Verstappen’s time yesterday though. The Dutchman then took to the track and was immediately on the pace: first lap out of the bag for the world champion and he pumped in a 1:13.794 to go fastest by half a second.
Fernando Alonso then did a 1:13.697 to beat Max Verstappen’s time by 0.097s. He was quicker in the first two sectors, then lost a little in the final sector to the Red Bull driver.
Scuderia Ferrari Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc brushed the wall and asked over the team radio: “Can you let me know if I touched the wall at Turn 14? I think I did a little bit but because the wall is soft you cannot really feel it inside the car”. Max Verstappen was also testing the limits as well as he kissed the wall at Turn 1
29 mins to go in FP3 and Charles Leclerc had a big twitch with his Ferrari as he went through the swimming pool section on that last lap of his: “Can you see what is happening just before the first S of the Swimming Pool?” he said on team radio – “I think we are bottoming like crazy there.” He later added: “We need to change the car like this. I mean I need to lift in the S of the Swimming Pool because I have no control of the car.”
The two Red Bull cars were trading fastest laps at this stage of FP3: Sergio Perez briefly went quickest by 0.049s, but Max Verstappen immediately reclaimed top spot with a lap 0.073s quicker than his team-mate, just as George Russell nudged the inside barrier at the Rascasse but got away with it.
Lance Stroll put his Aston Martin up into third place, a tenth and a half off Max Verstappen. The Canadian was up on the Red Bulls through the second sector but a big slide out of the final corner cost him time and he had to settle for third fastest at that moment. After Charles Leclerc’s radio messages earlier, Carlos Sainz also found himself having to jump off the accelerator during the Swimming Pool section. The Spaniard’s latest lap was nearly half a second slower than the leading time despite being on new soft tyres.
Ferrari will need to find a fix for that before qualifying or the two red cars could be out of contention for pole.
With 13 minutes to go, Fernando Alonso had a big moment at Turn One, perhaps not getting his tyres into the right window for the start of the lap as he went 12th. That was not a true representation of his pace though. Kevin Magnussen then parked up just before Portier, which led to a short VSC period, as the marshals had to clear Kevin Magnussen’s car. But soon after the VSC period was over, we had a red flag: Lewis Hamilton was in the wall at Mirabeau. The rear stepped out as he went into the corner and as he tried to correct it he ended up in the barriers. Hamilton apologised on the team radio for his mistake. The W14 was completely wedged in the barriers and that caused the end of the session.
It was Max Verstappen who therefore topped the final practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix in a Red Bull one-two. Carlos Sainz finished in P4, with a personal best lap time of 1m13.261s, while his Maranello teammate ended the session in P7 1m13.475s.
Results from final practice at the Monaco Grand Prix, Round 7 of the F1 2023 world championship.
|1||Max Verstappen||NED||Red Bull||1m12.776s|
|2||Sergio Perez||MEX||Red Bull||1m12.849s|
|3||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin||1m12.942s|
|10||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Alfa Romeo||1m13.521s|
|14||Fernando Alonso||ESP||Aston Martin||1m13.697s|
|16||Zhou Guanyu||CHN||Alfa Rome||1m13.772s|
|20||Nyck de Vries||NED||AlphaTauri||1m14.187s|