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Final practice - Rosberg leads, Maldonado crashes 26 May 2012

Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 24 May 2012 Romain Grosjean soon knocks a full half second off Di Resta's time with a great lap in the Lotus Lewis Hamilton, with a huge lock-up in to Turn One, saves his McLaren from the barriers thanks to an escape road Paul di Resta not feeling quite so at home as he loses his Force India under braking on the exit from the tunnel, thankfully harming only the car A bizarre end to P3 for Pastor Maldonado as he smashes into the barriers at Casino Square, losing his left-rear tyre in the process. The session is red flagged, leaving Nico Rosberg top

Nico Rosberg staked his claim to Monaco fame on Saturday morning with fastest time in a final practice session that was run, against expectations, on a bone dry track in decent sunshine.

The Chinese Grand Prix winner took his Mercedes round in 1m 15.159s on Pirelli’s super-soft rubber, but he was just 0.038s ahead of the supremely on-form Felipe Massa who was Ferrari’s faster runner with 1m 15.197s.

A late improvement jumped Sebastian Vettel up to third for Red Bull with 1m 15.209s, which just shaded Fernando Alonso’s 1m 15.210s for Ferrari.

Romain Grosjean looked strong all morning and was fifth for Lotus in 1m 15.445s, just ahead of Jenson Button in the faster McLaren on 1m 15.471s. The Briton did one run more on the super-softs than team mate Lewis Hamilton, whose final run was spoiled when Pastor Maldonado took the left-rear wheel off his Williams after clipping the inside wall in Casino Square and then clobbering the Armco on the exit. The session was red flagged, and as there were only just over three minutes left, it was not resumed. Hamilton thus had to be satisfied with 1m 15.734s.

Michael Schumacher took eighth for Mercedes in 1m 15.893s, and the top 10 was completed by Sergio Perez with 1m 16.110s and Red Bull’s Mark Webber with 1m 16.219s. Perez angrily declaimed Maldonado over the radio to the Sauber crew, accusing him of deliberately blocking him.

Jean-Eric Vergne’s strong form continued with an 11th place run for Toro Rosso in 1m 16.226s, while Kimi Raikkonen could only manage 12th in his first pukka run of the weekend in the dry with 1m 16.301s in the second Lotus. That left the Finn ahead of Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber on 1m 16.311s, Daniel Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso on 1m 16.479s, Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India on 1m 17.027s, Bruno Senna’s Williams on 1m 17.055s, Heikki Kovalainen’s Caterham on 1m 17.276s, Paul di Resta’s Force India on 1m 17.390s and Vitaly Petrov’s Caterham on 1m 17.404s.

Timo Glock was 20th for Marussia on 1m 18.259s ahead of the troubled Maldonado on 1m 18.488s, while behind them the times were very tight. Charles Pic was 22nd for Marussia on 1m 19.099s, ahead of the HRTs of Narain Karthikeyan on 1m 19.147s and Pedro de la Rosa on 1m 19.151s.

Several people missed apexes, while Vettel just kissed the Armco exiting the Swimming Pool and Di Resta swiped his Force India’s nose against it after getting out of shape under braking for the chicane.

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