2013 Monaco GP, Practice Three: Rosberg completes hat-trick in crash-ridden session
Ferrari left with biggest repair job to get Massa ready for qualifying
By James Galloway in Monaco. Last Updated: 25/05/13 2:17pm
Nico Rosberg overcame a brush with the wall to complete a hat-trick of fastest times in final practice for the Monaco GP - but Felipe Massa, Adrian Sutil and, for the second time this weekend, Romain Grosjean weren't so lucky on a dramatic return to F1 action on Saturday morning.
Following Friday's rest day for the weekend's top billing in the Principality, the build-up to the most important qualifying session of the whole season resumed on a dry, but increasingly overcast and blustery, harbourside circuit for P3, and like the track's grip levels, the action really ramped up as the one-hour session progressed.
But while Rosberg underlined his status as the favourite for pole position with an impressive late 1:14.378s time on supersoft tyres - despite the German himself whacking the barrier with his left-rear wheel on the entry to the tunnel on his fastest lap - the second half of the session was truncated by three crashes and two red flags as drivers got caught out.
The distrupted end to the session meant that Grosjean still ended up a strong second on the timesheet behind the flying Rosberg as other drivers caught traffic, or were caught out by the red flags, on what would have been representative supersoft efforts.
Sebastian Vettel was one such driver but still finished third on the timesheet, eight tenths back from the flying Rosberg, with Fernando Alonso fourth for Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton fifth in the second Mercedes.
However, Rosberg's sustained pace aside, the major talking points from the session were linked to the trio of crashes. The first driver to run into trouble - and in the most dramatic, and unusual, fashion - was Massa with 25 minutes to go in an incident which could have huge repercussions for the Brazilian's participation in the day's later qualifying session.
As Massa hit the brakes for the Ste Devote corner on his ninth lap, both his F138's front wheels immediately locked up and the Ferrari understeered left into a heavy impact with the outside guardrail.
With the car's front-left suspension taking the full force of the impact, it then careered into a nose-first clash with the first corner tyre barrier, wrecking the other side of the suspension.
Massa clambered out of the stricken Ferrari unaided but the scale of the damage to the front of the car has given the team's mechanics a big rebuild job ahead of the start of Q1 at 1pm (BST).
Initial suspicions being that something broke on the car. "We think something might have broken on his steering because we can see him putting more lock on but the wheels aren't turning," Sky Sports F1's Damon Hill suggested.
The crash brought out the red flags but no sooner had the car and debris been cleared away than Adrian Sutil lost control of his Force India at the top of the hill and slithered into the barriers at Massenet, doing damage to both ends of his VJM06.
That was then followed, in the closing seconds of the session, by the sight of Grosjean's Lotus in the barriers at Ste Devote for the second successive F1 session. Having already earlier punctured his left-rear tyre when he tagged the inside barrier at the chicane, Grosjean, having taking an unusual line into the Ste Devote braking zone, saw his E21 swap ends on him under braking and spin into the tyre barrier.
"It's a strange one, this one. He's seem to turn in very early, then the back goes out," observed Sky F1's Johnny Herbert. "It could be that he got distracted and once again we've seen him clattering the barriers."
"It's very frustrating because this guy's got this immense speed. But he keeps making these silly mistakes."
Kimi Raikkonen, who made a small mistake on his best lap, was a second back in sixth ahead of Mark Webber (Red Bull) and Paul di Resta (Force India.)