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Vettel shows speed again with fastest time in final practice

27 May 2017

Monaco is unique in F1 schedule, especially because the drivers get off on Friday.

I don't know what we did to land in some unusual alternate universe this weekend, but it's completely unexpected and I love it. We have good downforce here, the rear of the auto feels like it is working the best it has so far this year. "I was pretty happy in the afternoon. We need to figure out why", said Hamilton. "We did some changes and it always got better".

"At one point, as the barriers loomed at Massenet on the approach to Casino Square and he snapped the Mercedes back into shape, he shook a gloved hand in relief as if to say 'That was close".

Hamilton could manage only eighth place and was over a second back from Vettel.

It's a significant deficit when teams are scrapping for minimal gains.

"We took a wrong junction in setting up the auto in a direction which we believed was good", Wolff said.

"When the vehicle isn't quite right you lose a lot of time in Monaco".

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"I am confident that we have the tools so it's up to us to find the right set-up to get into groove and have the confidence".

The Mercedes slump was especially surprising considering Hamilton's smooth first practice.

"I don't know what was wrong there", said Vettel of Mercedes' problems.

"It's a shame but we have a full day tomorrow to analyse everything and come back stronger on Saturday".

Hamilton is one pole position shy of matching Ayrton Senna's haul of 65 - 30 years after the Brazilian claimed his first of a record six victories at Monaco - but Hamilton, on Thursday's evidence at least, faces a tall order to emulate his childhood hero this weekend.

Meanwhile, Lance Stroll's miserable run continued.

Stroll was not injured in the crash, but sustained significant damage to the front of his Williams, and the session was temporarily red-flagged as marshals removed his auto and the litter of debris.

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"Tomorrow's race will clearly be a case of damage limitation for him", Wolff said.

Asked about Mercedes' apparently disappointing performance, Vettel added: "I don't know what happened to them today".

The Williams driver has failed to finish his past three races and has yet to score a point.

The 2009 champion, who is standing in for Fernando Alonso while the Spaniard competes in the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, now looks set to start in last place.

Britain's Lewis Hamilton, then in a winning McLaren in the days before current employers Mercedes had returned with their own team, would only secure the first of his three titles months later.

Vettel also said it would be wrong to think that the race is already done with overtaking so hard around the tight Monaco circuit.

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Vettel shows speed again with fastest time in final practice