Vettel sets fastest ever lap at Monaco

Valtteri Bottas had to settle for 10th in Practice Two, three hundredths of a second slower than team-mate Hamilton and just four hundredths of a second quicker than the McLaren-Hondas which have struggled for pace throughout 2017. He did a very good job in qualifying.

Dutch teenager Max Verstappen took fourth place ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Australian Daniel Ricciardo, Spaniard Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso, Mexican Sergio Perez of Force India and Frenhcman Romain Grosjean of Haas.

"We'll try to make the best of it tomorrow".

"And then we caught Jenson (Button) as well.so why we put me out in traffic when we knew we needed a hard out lap was a pretty obvious mistake".

The Finn has never previously won here, and dismissed suggestions that Vettel's points lead might persuade the Ferrari team to order him to let the German take his third win of the season. "Just trying to make a stupid story or something".

Even more so for Hamilton, whose chances of a third win at Monaco and 56th overall look bleak.

The British driver headed into the weekend six points behind Vettel and aiming to move level with Ayrton Senna's total of 65 pole positions.

"The opportunity was not there for me", bemoaned Hamilton, who qualified 14th.

The three-time world champion complained of issues with his vehicle and nearly crashed at Massenet, but got himself out of trouble before enduring further woes in Q2.

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. Tomorrow I will just be driving around in whatever position.

Bottas, who will carry Mercedes hopes of preventing a Ferrari triumph, added: "It was a really good lap for me".

Verstappen was fastest in Q1 ahead of Vettel and Raikkonen, with Hamilton already an ominous 10th. Hamilton began the weekend as the favourite after topping Thursday morning Free Practice 1.

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

Hamilton almost went off at Massenet on his out lap in Q2, and was down in 13th complaining of no grip when he got caught at the weigh bridge as he came in for adjustments. His first and second sector times were coloured green, indicating personal bests and potential improvement on the 1m 14.106s banker lap that he had done early on, but as he sped into the final sector he came across rookie Stoffel Vandoorne's McLaren Honda parked in the wall, and yellow flags waving. "I would have struggled to make it into the top five with the pace that I had".

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