Lewis Hamilton topped the time sheet for the final practice of the Italian GP as the grid prepared for qualifying. Mercedes’ dominant pace was displayed once again as Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg comfortably sat ahead of the field. Sebastian Vettel was their closest rival, but even with his updated Ferrari engine, he was still just under a second off the leading pair.
It had looked good for Ferrari earlier on in the session as Vettel managed to split the Mercedes pair, coming withing three-tenths of Hamilton’s time. But it was not to last as the Mercedes drivers changed to the super soft compound – the tyre Vettel has already been running – and shot ahead of the German: Rosberg six-tenths up on the Ferrari Driver’s time and Hamilton nine-tenths.
The rest of the top ten finished very two-by-two. A surprise surge at the end of the session saw Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa make Williams the third fastest team, with Red Bull duo Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen having to settle for seventh and eighth. The bottom of the top ten was finished off by Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez. Nico Hulkenberg just missed out on making the top ten five-team exclusive by 0.007 seconds. The fight to get into Q3 looks like it will be close down the bottom end.
Romain Grosjean was the only car to retire from this session. He lost his Haas going through the Ascari chicane and spun the car into the gravel. He managed to keep the car running but as the car was beached he could not move it. It ended the Frenchman’s session very early on and, although he may not have too much repair work to do on the car, he did miss out on all of his low fuel running.
After yesterday’s promising performance, Fernando Alonso had a torrid session to end P17, 2.650 seconds off the leading pace. It is not where the Spaniard would have wanted to place his car considering he managed to finish FP2 P7 yesterday. His teammate, Jenson Button, showed a bit more promise, managing to place his McLaren P12. Most importantly he was six-tenths faster than Alonso. Alonso will use the time before qualifying to see where he can make up the time.
Max Verstappen was the big talking point through this session. He blocked Rosberg’s first flying lap which brought up the dispute about his driving style again. Verstappen was on a cool down lap and was lapping very slowly. He appeared to be unaware that Rosberg was approaching and did not go off-line through a chicane, forcing Rosberg to brake hard as to not hit him. Whether Verstappen will get a penalty for this is unknown but only a few races ago did Gutierrez get a penalty for blocking in practice.
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