Nico Rosberg set the fastest time in the final free practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix, which was brought to a halt prematurely following an accident for Pastor Maldonado at Casino Square.
The Spanish Grand Prix winner appeared to be involved in an incident with Sergio Perez's Sauber on the lap before at Portier and then lost control of his Williams on the entrance to Casino Square. He lost his left rear wheel as the car went out of control, before parking the FW34 at Mirabeau with three minutes of the session remaining.
An impressive Felipe Massa was second fastest ahead of a late-improving Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso in the second Ferrari.
Unsurprisingly there was a little more urgency about getting on with the business of working through setup programs at the start of this session, and none was more in a hurry to get on with it than Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn did not even bother with an installation lap and was the first to record a time, at 1m18.993s.
That mark did not last long at the top of the times as the two Mercedes joined him and Rosberg moved to the top, just six hundredths faster. Force India's Paul di Resta had a brief moment in the sunshine just before quarter distance, but only until one of the stars of the weekend so far – Romain Grosjean – fired in a 1m16.812s. The Frenchman, super confident in the switched on Lotus, worked that down to a 1m15.811s, and notably that remained the best time anyone did on the soft prime Pirelli tire.
Just after half an hour Rosberg moved the mark forward with a super-soft option lap of 1m15.751s. The Chinese Grand Prix winner then backed off for a lap before going even faster at 1m15.159s.
Behind him, Massa – looking much more secure in the cockpit of his Ferrari than of late – Alonso and Grosjean all also improved on the red-walled Pirellis. It was only in the last 10 minutes that Vettel, who had a sideways moment on the exit of the Swimming Pool on a previous lap, finally moved into third place in a Red Bull that does not look at home on the Monaco streets.
Behind this quintet, Jenson Button's best super-soft effort could only net him sixth fastest ahead of his McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, Perez (whose best lap was balked by Nico Hulkenberg) and Mark Webber, who completed the top 10.
Raikkonen spent the session focusing on race setup and was 12th quickest.
Maldonado's was not the only late session incident. Di Resta, who ended up 18th fastest, crashed into the barriers under braking for the chicane as the car snapped left over the bumps, but he was able to return to the pits under his own power with significant nose and front wing damage.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m15.159s 25
2. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m15.197s + 0.038s 21
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m15.209s + 0.050s 20
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m15.210s + 0.051s 20
5. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m15.445s + 0.286s 18
6. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m15.471s + 0.312s 19
7. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m15.734s + 0.575s 19
8. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m15.893s + 0.734s 23
9. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m16.110s + 0.951s 14
10. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m16.219s + 1.060s 19
11. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m16.226s + 1.067s 20
12. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m16.301s + 1.142s 21
13. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m16.311s + 1.152s 19
14. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m16.479s + 1.320s 20
15. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m17.027s + 1.868s 20
16. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m17.055s + 1.896s 26
17. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m17.276s + 2.117s 25
18. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m17.390s + 2.231s 19
19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m17.404s + 2.245s 22
20. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m18.259s + 3.100s 18
21. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m18.488s + 3.329s 22
22. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m19.099s + 3.940s 17
23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m19.147s + 3.988s 19
24. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m19.151s + 3.992s 19
All timing unofficial