Sebastian Vettel beats Lewis Hamilton in final Monaco practice

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer in Monaco
Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel won in Monaco during 2011
Monaco Grand Prix
Venue: Circuit de Monaco-Monte Carlo Dates: 21-24 May
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Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel pipped the Mercedes drivers in final practice for the Monaco Grand Prix.

The four-time champion was 0.218 seconds faster than Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton finishing in third.

Hamilton had dominated earlier in the session, but reported "something's not right on the car".

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo was fourth ahead of Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz Jr with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen sixth.

Raikkonen crashed at the Sainte Devote corner immediately after setting his time, ahead of Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat.

Hamilton leads Rosberg by 20 points in the drivers' championship standings, with Vettel a further 11 behind Rosberg.

Inside F1 - Monaco practice and news

It was an unusual, hard-to read session, as teams ran differently from normal because they had lost much of Thursday's second session, when they do their race preparation work, because of rain.

Hamilton has looked the fastest man throughout the weekend, and set the pace for much of the session, a couple of tenths ahead of Vettel, and half-a-second clear of Rosberg.

But following the red flag period that was brought about by Raikkonen's accident, Hamilton did not record a faster time.

When he complained that his car did not feel right, he was told that this was probably because his tyre pressures were too high.

Formula 1's magical Monaco moments

The world champion was not alone in failing to improve during the final minutes, when on a normal weekend the drivers would be simulating qualifying.

For example, McLaren's Fernando Alonso, who had been fourth quickest when the session was stopped, did several laps on the 'super-soft' tyres without improving his time and slipped down to 14th.

The Spaniard's team-mate Jenson Button, who had been a couple of tenths slower than Alonso when the session was stopped, did improve and ended the session eighth fastest, raising McLaren's hopes that at least one car might this weekend make it into the final part of qualifying for the first time this year.

Toro Rosso's Max Verstappen took ninth, despite a spin into the barriers at the final corner. The damage was limited to his rear wing and the Dutchman was able to get out again towards the end of the session.

Vettel's pace-setting time is not necessarily an indication that he will be able to fight with the Mercedes drivers for pole position when qualifying starts at 13:00 BST on a warm Mediterranean day on the famous harbour.

Vettel's fastest lap was one minute 16.143 seconds compared with last year's pole position, set by Rosberg, of one minute 15.989 seconds.

Mercedes are expecting to be considerably quicker than that once qualifying starts.

Andrew Benson on Monaco
Monaco: a wonderful anachronism of a race, in which 900bhp Grand Prix cars are wrestled around narrow hillside streets barely wide enough to cycle on.
F1 has its problems at the moment but, however jaded you are, there is nothing quite like the barely controlled violence, the sense of impossibility suspended, of the very best drivers at work there.
In the Pirelli era, the race itself has become a bit of a joke - cars trundling around nose to tail, seconds a lap under the limit, to ensure the super-soft tyres can last long enough to do the ideal one-stop race.
But as an event, still nothing quite matches Monaco.

Monaco practice results

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