By Alan Baldwin
MONACO (Reuters) – Max Verstappen crashed his Red Bull in final practice for the Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday while team mate Daniel Ricciardo smashed the lap record for the third session in a row.
Ricciardo’s best lap of a sunny session was one minute 11.786 seconds, compared to his Thursday best of 1:11.841 and Kimi Raikkonen’s 2017 pole position time for Ferrari of 1:12.178.
The two Red Bulls were separated by next to nothing, Ricciardo a mere 0.001 quicker than Verstappen and setting the time after the 20-year-old Dutchman had hit the wall.
Verstappen, who had said earlier in the week that he was prepared to take risks in Formula One’s showcase race, brought out the red flags after the accident at the exit to the swimming pool section.
The impact, littering debris across the track, left the Red Bull mechanics with plenty of work before qualifying and dented Verstappen’s hopes of becoming the youngest polesitter.
The youngster has a chequered record in Monaco, crashing in 2015 and 2016, and has had a series of incidents already this season.
This time he made contact with the barriers at the entrance to the second Swimming Pool chicane, broke the front suspension and went into the wall at the exit.
Ricciardo, meanwhile, continued to cement his status as favourite.
Runner-up in 2016 after starting on pole, and third last year, the Australian dominated both practice sessions on Thursday.
Sunday’s race will be Red Bull’s 250th start in Formula One and all the signs are that they will be able to celebrate it in style.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was third fastest behind the Red Bulls while championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who leads the German by 17 points after five races, was fourth fastest for Mercedes and Raikkonen fifth.
Finland’s Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton’s team mate, needed a rear wing change after hitting the barrier at Sainte Devote early in the session.
He ended up with the sixth fastest time.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)