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Verstappen to learn from brutal lesson - Red Bull boss

Verstappen to learn from brutal lesson - Red Bull boss

Mercedes world champion Lewis Hamilton, fifth fastest in final practice, leads Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel by 17 points in the driver standings after five of 21 races.

Vettel, whose team mate Kimi Raikkonen starts fourth and ahead of Mercedes's Valtteri Bottas, said Ricciardo had "owned" the qualifying session.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, last year's race victor in a Ferrari one-two, joined his former Red Bull team mate on the front row with world championship leader Lewis Hamilton lining up third for Mercedes.

The Dutchman caught the inside wall at the second Swimming Pool chicane with his right front tyre and catapulted into the barriers on the outside. It later transpired that he had damaged his gearbox, and Red Bull were unable to replace it in time for him to compete in qualifying.

McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne was shuffled down to 12th, having been sixth based on his time on the first runs, thanks to failing to improve on his second set of tyres - potentially as a result of a minor problem with the auto.

"We didn't really change much, it was one of those pretty smooth ones".

On another flawless sunlit morning on the Cote d'Azur, Ferrari were quick to set the pace with Raikkonen and Vettel quickest ahead of Hamilton and Bottas, who had an early "off" at Ste Devote.

"Max's vehicle was sacked up and then we saw an oil leak in the gearbox which had been hidden and that was it". I have just been able to build up to it and have some fun. "It has been awesome". We need to push it but you don't need to over-drive it. "It's of course not what you'd like to happen, but unfortunately it happens". I'm sure if you ask any grid girl on Sunday if they're happy to stand there, their answer will be yes.

"I'm taking my time", he said on Wednesday, inscrutable behind his shades. "I definitely expect all three big teams to be below 1min 12sec (in official qualifying) on Saturday - we set a benchmark and we have stated our intentions. It is not everything around here, but we seem to be good in all conditions at the moment".

The Brit said that Mercedes knew that Red Bulls would be quickest over the weekend, though. We did the best we could and the auto was in a good place. "I'm glad that was the fastest lap that anyone has ever done as it felt so quick. And if they are, then we shouldn't do it".

Two-time champion and former Monaco victor Fernando Alonso was seventh for McLaren ahead of Carlos Sainz of Renault, Sergio Perez in the second Force India and Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso.

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