Monaco P3: Rosberg top as Pastor crashes

Session red-flagged by Spanish GP winner

By Mike Wise in Monaco.   Last Updated: 26/05/12 12:09pm

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Nico Rosberg set the pace in final practice ahead of qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday morning, but the session's main talking point was the various mishaps and apparent misdeeds of Barcelona victor Pastor Maldonado.

Rosberg lapped the 3.340km street circuit in a time of one minute 15.159seconds to go 0.038s faster than Ferrari's Felipe Massa who in turn edged Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and his own team-mate Fernando Alonso.

However, the session was red-flagged in the closing moments after Williams driver Maldonado crashed his car entering Casino Square.

Moments earlier, the Spanish Grand Prix winner appeared to hit the Sauber of Sergio Perez - a collision that could, perhaps, have caused damage that resulted in the accident.

Maldonado's car lost its right rear wheel in the accident and although the Venezuelan hopped out of the car unhurt further down the track at Mirabeau, it appears his reputation - much enhanced after his stunning win in Barcelona - may have suffered damage.

Sky Sports F1's Anthony Davidson was particularly unimpressed with Maldonado's on-track behaviour, declaring: "That's unacceptable to drive into someone like that. He'll surely be punished for that. It was completely malicious."

"Where is the mature Pastor who won in Spain?" added commentator David Croft. "It looks like his immature twin brother has turned up."

The hour-long session had reached a busy climax as teams sought to make up time after the rain that interrupted running on Thursday afternoon.

Kimi Raikkonen was clearly keen to make up time after missing Thursday's opening session to have the steering on his Lotus fixed and it was the Finn who set the early pace along with Force India's Paul di Resta as both embarked upon long runs on soft tyres.

Raikkonen's team-mate Romain Grosjean was the first driver into the 1:16s a quarter of the way into the session and the Frenchman soon improved by another second as the track started to rubber in.

Perez was P2 at this stage but the Mexican had to pit after touching a barrier at the swimming pool section.

Raikkonen was also the first out on supersofts - having not run them at all on Thursday - but the time he set was some six-tenths down on Grosjean's best on the softs.

It was Rosberg who used the red tyre to go P1 with a lap over six-tenths faster than Grosjean's - the German's run on the option than that of the Lotus driver, who slipped to fourth behind Massa and Alonso after making the switch himself.

Grosjean ended with the fifth fastest time, with Vettel third despite grazing the barrier exiting the swimming pool section with 10 minutes remaining.

McLaren's Jenson Button was sixth ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton, with Michael Schumacher, Perez and Mark Webber completing the top 10.

Di Resta ended the session 18th after surviving a spin in the closing moments, the Scot losing control at the entrance to the harbourfront chicane and damaging the nose of his car.

Practice Three times in full

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Practice 3 Times

F1 Driver Standings Table 14
Position Driver Nationality Team Pts
1 Rosberg Mercedes 1:15.159
2 Massa Ferrari 0.038
3 Vettel Red Bull 0.050
4 Alonso Ferrari 0.051
5 Grosjean Lotus 0.286
6 Button McLaren 0.312
7 Hamilton McLaren 0.575
8 Schumacher Mercedes 0.734
9 Perez Sauber 0.951
10 Webber Red Bull 1.060

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