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Sergio Perez edges Charles Leclerc to top final Monaco practice

Sergio Perez finished fastest in final practice (Daniel Cole/AP)
Sergio Perez finished fastest in final practice (Daniel Cole/AP)

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez edged out Charles Leclerc to finish fastest in final practice for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Home favourite Leclerc, quickest in both outings here on Friday, had to settle for second in the concluding action before Saturday afternoon’s all-important qualifying session.

Perez finished 0.041 seconds ahead of Leclerc. Carlos Sainz was third in the other Ferrari, one place ahead of world champion Max Verstappen.

Lewis Hamilton ended Friday’s running in 12th, but the Mercedes driver improved to seventh on Saturday, albeit nine tenths back. Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell was ninth.

With overtaking virtually impossible around Monte Carlo’s twisty streets, qualifying here is the most crucial of the season.

And it looks to be a straight fight between Ferrari and Red Bull for pole, with Leclerc bidding to win his first race on home soil and Verstappen, who holds a six-point lead over the Monegasque, aiming to take his fourth victory in succession.

Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll limped back to the garage with a wounded machine when he made heavy impact with the wall after riding the kerb through the Swimming Pool chicane, while Lando Norris, battling tonsillitis this weekend, took sixth.

Qualifying for the seventh round of the season starts at 4pm local time (3pm UK).