Daniel Ricciardo expects increased Ferrari, Mercedes threat

Daniel Ricciardo expects increased Ferrari, Mercedes threat

Red Bull face a race against time to fix Max Verstappen's auto for qualifying at the Monaco Grand prix after he hit the barriers at the Swimming Pool chicane while attempting to set a new lap record in final practice.

Sebastian Vettel headed Ferrari's charge two tenths back in third, with Lewis Hamilton best of the Mercedes drivers in fifth.

Hamilton was 0.123secs behind but had a messy session and appeared to have more pace in his Mercedes.

"Something I want to do like him is to become world champion with Ferrari".

"It's been an OK day, we didn't suffer any damage which is a good thing", said Hamilton. "But today we did what we could so I am happy".

Vettel started out the year strong, with victories in Australia and Bahrain, but he now sits second in points behind defending champion Lewis Hamilton, who has had a strong few weeks.

Formula One has dispensed, since the beginning of the year, with female models parading on the starting grid but sponsors have been quick to fill the gap.

Italian journalist Teo Lurrini claimed last month Hamilton and Vettel could yet swap teams ahead of the new campaign.

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"I should think it is such a grotesque amount of money that Toto's talking about it is probably what's making his and [Mercedes" non-executive chairman] Niki Lauda's eyes water at the moment. "For Saturday it will be very close".

Ricciardo lit up the timesheets with a 1:11.841s lap on Pirelli's Hypersofts, beating team-mate Max Verstappen by 0.194s as Red Bull wrapped up another 1-2.

The Dutchman's mechanics now face a race against time to ensure his Red Bull is ready for qualifying.

Ricciardo was third in Monaco a year ago, after taking pole and finishing second in 2016, and is aiming to take the final step on Sunday.

"People, for their benefit, are going to try and push me, set deadlines, and I get that", Ricciardo said.

'I'm pretty sure that Lewis's priority lies with Mercedes.

McLaren's Fernando Alonso, who missed last year's race to compete in the Indianapolis 500 instead, had a hard opening session with his auto suffering problems with its brake-by-wire system.

"We heard about it but it is normal that every now and again you have something popping up and then there's rumours", he said. "But for here it's not that relevant as it's a completely different track, but certainly going forward, time will tell whether we found a good direction". "I think it's a good move".

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