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Sebastian Vettel heads into qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix poised for a pole position challenge after storming to the fastest time in final free practice.

A first chance for the teams to measure pace on the super-soft tyres following the rain on Thursday, it was Ferrari's Vettel that would emerge as the man to beat in FP3, his final effort toppling the Mercedes' by stopping the clock at 1min 16.143secs.

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Indeed, Mercedes had looked comfortable out front for much of the session, but Nico Rosberg's response to Vettel would leave him two tenths adrift, while Lewis Hamilton had yellow flags and traffic to contend with in his efforts to elevate himself, the defending champion more than half a second adrift as he aborted his last runs.

Continuing its positive form around the low speed circuit, Red Bull and Toro Rosso followed in fourth and fifth, Daniel Ricciardo leading Carlos Sainz, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen who may have joined Vettel in the upper echelons had he not clipped the barrier at Ste Devote, an incident that brought out the red flags and ended his session prematurely.

Daniil Kvyat was seventh fastest, ahead of Jenson Button, the McLaren-Honda looking a stronger proposition for a maiden Q3 appearance later today, even if Fernando Alonso could only manage 14th.

Following his star turn on Thursday, Max Verstappen was once again quick and committed, but a spin and touch with the barrier at the final corner would also see him end his morning early, the Dutchman nonetheless still ninth best from Romain Grosjean.

Having struggled to get the soft tyre working Thursday, Williams continued to underperform in FP3, Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa looking untidy down in 15th and 16th respectively - albeit just four tenths off eighth -, ahead only of the similarly troubled Saubers and the Manors.