Motor racing-Verstappen leads Red Bull one-two in final Monaco practice, Hamilton crashes

Formula One F1 - Formula One F1 - Monaco Grand Prix - Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo, Monaco - May 27, 2023 Red Bull's Max Verstappen during practice REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw

MONACO (Reuters) - Formula One champion Max Verstappen led a Red Bull one-two in final practice for the Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday while Lewis Hamilton brought the session to an early end by crashing his Mercedes.

Overall leader Verstappen lapped with a best time of one minute 12.776 seconds, 0.073 faster than Mexican team mate and last year's Monaco winner Sergio Perez.

The pair have between them won every grand prix this season, with four one-two finishes in five races and Verstappen leading by 14 points.

Canadian Lance Stroll was third on the timesheets for Aston Martin, who had Fernando Alonso down in 14th, but the session was inconclusive as drivers were unable to get in their final flying laps.

"You have to be realistic and see where your car is, we have not led the Red Bulls in any session, the advantage they had is not disappearing overnight," said Aston Martin team boss Mike Krack.

Hamilton lost the back end of his newly upgraded car at the Mirabeau corner and ended up wedged front-first in the barriers, with the session red-flagged with five minutes to go as marshals brought in a crane to remove the stricken car.

The Briton, who said on Friday he could feel the improvement to his car after a trying start to the season, had just set a fastest sector time.

The Mercedes mechanics then had an anxious wait as the car was hoisted high above the circuit and nearby trees, tilting alarmingly as it went.

The session, the last F1 track action before the most important qualifying of the season due to the difficulty of overtaking around Monaco's narrow and twisty layout, was not restarted.

There had also been a virtual safety car period when Kevin Magnussen's Haas stopped near Portier.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz was fourth fastest, ahead of McLaren's Lando Norris, Alpine's Pierre Gasly, Ferrari's home hero Charles Leclerc and Hamilton.

Leclerc will be chasing his third successive Monaco pole in qualifying.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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