F1: Red Bull back in front as Max Verstappen tops third practice timesheet in Monaco

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Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda on track during final practice prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 22, 2021 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.
Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda on track during final practice prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 22, 2021 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.
Photo by Lars Baron

Red Bull returned to the fore in Saturday's practice session as Max Verstappen finished in P1 while Mick Schumacher suffered a serious crash, casting doubts over his involvement in qualifying.

After Thursday's sunshine, the drivers were faced with very different conditions in Monaco on Saturday (22 May) with heavy clouds and the track temperature some 20 degrees cooler than it was in FP2.

Balancing going out when the track would be at its worst versus the threat of rain, Kimi Raikkonen broke the silence after three minutes.

The Alfa Romeo driver made a mistake at the chicane and backed out, a 1min24.9 getting the timesheet rolling. His next lap was a 1min14.3 and then a 1min13.4.

Daniel Ricciardo confirmed to McLaren that the track was "good" having dried out after overnight.

Charles Leclerc took over at the front with a 1min12.6, his teammate Carlos Sainz lining up second before they went on to trade purple sectors at the front.

Leclerc lowered the benchmark to a 1min11.6 when Max Verstappen joined the party, shaving 0.17s off the Monégasque driver's best. Lewis Hamilton's opening gambit put him P4, the top four all on the soft tyres to fifth-placed Sergio Perez's mediums. He was 0.65s off his team-mate's pace.

Ferrari, showing good tyre life, returned to P1 with Sainz putting in a 1min11.4 on his 15th lap on the same set of soft tyres. A near miss followed up with a kiss with the barrier meant Leclerc was not able to improve on his P3, 0.2s down.

Lando Norris had a near-miss with his former team-mate and good friend Sainz, hitting the brake to avoid contact as the duo played in the Monaco traffic.

Heading out for a final run, 14 of the 20 drivers all taking to the circuit one after the other, Leclerc went up the chicane's escape road, Valtteri Bottas had a spin at Turn 1 and Nicholas Latifi binned it at the Swimming Pool to bring out the red flags.

The Williams driver took too much of the red and white kerb at the entry, touched that Armco barrier, lost control of his car and bounced into the next barrier with the right side of the car.

The session resumed with 12 minutes on the clock and a queue at the end of the pit lane. As the drivers put in their final laps, Verstappen put in a late 1min11.294 to beat Sainz by 0.047s. Leclerc was third ahead of Bottas, Perez and Norris.

Mick Schumacher's session, and perhaps his day too, ended in the barrier, the Haas driver having a big crash that saw the red flag came out again with two minutes on the clock. Coming out of Casino Square, he lost the back end with his Haas suffering major damage.

The session was not restarted.

1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:11.294 19 laps
2 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 0.047s 28 laps
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.258s 27 laps
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.471s 20 laps
5 Sergio Perez Red Bull 0.523s 18 laps
6 Lando Norris McLaren 0.694s 20 laps
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.726s 20 laps
8 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 1.004s 25 laps
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1.063s 28 laps
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1.243s 24 laps
11 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 1.245s 21 laps
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1.406s 22 laps
13 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1.665s 25 laps
14 Mick Schumacher Haas 1.845s 21 laps
15 Fernando Alonso Alpine 2.035s 19 laps
16 Nikita Mazepin Haas 2.096s 20 laps
17 George Russell Williams 2.153s 29 laps
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams 2.181s 22 laps
19 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 2.228s 30 laps
20 Esteban Ocon Alpine 2.320s 18 laps

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