MONTE CARLO, Monaco, May 28, 2011 (AFP) - Two-time champion Fernando Alonso topped the times for Ferrari in Saturday morning's final crash-hit free practice session ahead of Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix.
The 29-year-old Spaniard, twice a winner on the unforgiving street circuit around the famous harbour, clocked a best time of one minute and 14.433 seconds in an hour of action that was twice red-flagged and brought to a halt.
Briton Jenson Button of McLaren was second fastest in 1:14.996, ahead of Brazilian Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari and defending world champion and current series leader Sebastian Vettel for Red Bull.
Vettel set his best time on used tyres and appeared to drive comfortably within himself, suggesting that he remains the key rival to the resurgent Alonso and setting up the prospect of a classic Red Bull v Ferrari duel for Saturday afternoon's qualifying session.
Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, 42, was fifth-fastest for Mercedes ahead of Briton Lewis Hamilton, in the second McLaren, but his team-mate and German compatriot Nico Rosberg was unable to record a time after crashing.
Rosberg, 25, lost control of his car as he came out of the tunnel at high speed after just 12 minutes and, due to the damage to his car, was unable to go out and clock a time.
The accident, in effect, wrecked not only his car, but any hopes he had for Sunday's race.
On another dry, clear morning of blue skies over the Mediterranean principality, the session was brought to a dramatic early halt when Rosberg lost control of his Mercedes as he came out of the tunnel.
His car appeared to jump over the bumpy circuit before turning sharply to the right and into the barriers.
Rosberg's accident signalled a red flag and brought the session to a halt, as did a later accident when Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi lost control of his Hispania car at Ste Devote with less than three minutes remaining.
Vettel's Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber was seventh fastest ahead of Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari and his Toro Rosso team-mate Sebastien Buemi, with Mexican rookie Sergio Perez -- a close friend of Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez -- completing the top 10 for Sauber.
|4||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1:15.245s||0.812s||19|
|7||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||1:15.529s||1.096s||19|
|8||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1:16.617s||2.184s||13|
|9||Sebastien Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1:16.736s||2.303s||15|
|11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:16.990s||2.557s||20|
|17||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:18.069s||3.636s||17|