Report

FP3: Leclerc leads Verstappen and Hamilton in final Monaco practice as all-important qualifying looms

Share
MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-24 on track

Charles Leclerc kept his and Ferrari’s place at the top of the timesheets during Saturday’s third and final practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix, leading the way from Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton to underline his credentials on home soil.

After two practice sessions to get back up to speed around the tight, twisty streets of Monte Carlo on Friday, FP3 represented the last chance for drivers to push the limits – and fine-tune their cars – ahead of this afternoon’s crucial qualifying hour.

FP2: Home hero Leclerc sets the pace during busy second practice in Monaco from Hamilton and Alonso

As the action got under way, plenty of eyes were on Verstappen and Red Bull in the wake of their “worst possible” start to the weekend, and the Dutchman’s assessment that there was “no solution” in sight amid severe bouncing and balance problems.

Unsurprisingly, plenty of drivers were quick to head out and rack up some more laps, with weather conditions transitioning from warm but overcast to hot and largely clear – the harbour and the rest of the Principality looking resplendent in the sunshine.

Monaco 2024

Practice 3 results

PositionTeam NameTime
1LEC1:11.369
2VER+0.197s
3HAM+0.341s
4PIA+0.532s
5PER+0.554s
View Full Results

Around a quarter of the way into the session, the first driver to go over the limit was Kick Sauber’s Valtteri Bottas, who tapped the wall exiting Piscine, sustained front-right suspension damage and brought out the red flags when he failed to make it through La Rascasse.

Hamilton was forced to take evasive action when he arrived at the scene of his former team mate’s incident and, after the brief stoppage, the seven-time world champion had another moment via a heavy lock-up at Sainte Devote and a trip into the run-off area.

PRACTICE DEBRIEF: Why the data backs up Leclerc’s phenomenal Friday performance at Monaco

The final practice drama did not stop there, though, as drivers squabbled for track position to get some representative laps in, leading to gesticulations and angry radio messages from Verstappen, Kevin Magnussen and Sergio Perez as they darted around slow-moving cars.

After a flurry of runs on soft tyres, home favourite Leclerc held the benchmark with an impressive effort of 1m 11.369s, putting him a couple of tenths clear of Verstappen, who managed to find a step in performance but expressed just how hard he was pushing over the radio.

Hamilton wound up third, another tenth-and-a-half adrift, with Oscar Piastri leading McLaren’s charge in fourth, Sergio Perez classifying fifth in the other Red Bull and George Russell rounding out the top six positions in his Mercedes.

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes

FP3 brought the final opportunity for drivers to push the limits before qualifying

Carlos Sainz was seventh, still a chunk away from pace-setting team mate Leclerc, with Lando Norris only eighth in the second of the McLarens after a peculiar incident with the aforementioned Russell exiting the tunnel that saw the pair come close to colliding.

Yuki Tsunoda kept RB inside the top 10 with a strong run to ninth, followed by Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin, Pierre Gasly’s Alpine, Alex Albon’s Williams and the Haas cars of Nico Hulkenberg and Magnussen.

WATCH: Ride onboard with Leclerc for the fastest lap of Friday practice in Monaco

Lance Stroll, Esteban Ocon, Logan Sargeant and Daniel Ricciardo followed in the remaining Aston Martin, Alpine, Williams and RB cars, as Kick Sauber brought up the rear – Zhou Guanyu 19th and Bottas 20th, without a time, after his crash.

Drivers and teams will now debrief, run through the data and make any final tweaks before Saturday’s all-important qualifying session, which is set to begin at 1600 local time. Head to the RACE HUB for more information.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Coming Up

Coming Up

Feature

FACTS AND STATS: Gasly bags his best qualifying of the year as Ocon makes Q3 for first time since Austin