Lewis Hamilton returned Mercedes to the top of the timesheets in final practice at Monte Carlo although Daniel Ricciardo’s performance suggests a close battle for pole position could be on this afternoon. The pair were separated by just five hundredths of a second with teammates Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel also looking competitive.
Rosberg had set the early pace on the soft compound tyres but Ricciardo was the first frontrunner to sample the super-softs, going fastest on a 1:16.808. The Australian was able to find time on his second lap with the option tyres and that was becoming a feature of the session with teammate Vettel needing two timed laps to set his quickest lap, slotting into second.
Hamilton, who came perilously close to tagging the barriers when his Mercedes snapped into oversteer at Tabac, was next to show his hand although his flying lap brought confirmation that the Silver Arrows weren’t enjoying their usual dominance, Lewis only lowering the benchmark time to 1:16.758. Two thirds of the way into his lap, Rosberg looked likely to usurp his teammate but a poor final sector saw him slip to third, splitting the Red Bulls.
The Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen completed the top six, six tenths off, although Alonso in particular will feel he could have gone quicker after encountering Felipe Massa on consecutive laps at Rascasse. The Force India and Toro Rosso pairs made up the rest of the top ten with Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg seventh and eighth while Jean-Eric Vergne pipped Daniil Kvyat to ninth despite sliding down the escape roads at both Ste Devote and Mirabeau late on.