Monza Practice 3: Hamilton beats Vettel on drying track

Hamilton speeds around the Parabolica
Hamilton speeds around the Parabolica

Lewis Hamilton maintained his place at the top of the timesheets ahead of qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, nabbing the top spot in the closing stages at a drying Monza. Sebastian Vettel with a strong showing in second, suggested that Ferrari might be closer to the Mercedes car than the Friday times suggested, but we all know Hamilton has yet to show his hand.

With overnight rain making conditions mixed at the start of the hour-long session, most drivers waited until the final minutes to set their personal bests.

With patches of wet track preventing the drivers from matching lap times from practice 2, Hamilton was still fastest for Mercedes with a 1min 24.544s – three tenths slower than the weekend benchmark – and two tenths clear of Sebastian Vettel.

Because of the rain, all of the quick times came right at the end of the session, with Hamilton going round in 1m 24.544s on the softer Pirelli tire. Vettel cheered the tifosi with 1m 24.808s for Ferrari, 0.264s down, as Rosberg only marginally improved to 1m 24.843s for third.

Vettel a close 2nd for Ferrari

With a dry qualifying session predicted this afternoon, Vettel was just quick enough in the dicey conditions to edge out Nico Rosberg with Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa completing the top five.

Another strong session for the Mercedes-powered contingent, Lotus' Pastor Maldonado was sixth fastest, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari and Sergio Perez in the Force India.

Bottas was also under 1m 25s, with 1m 24.946s for Williams. Teammate Massa shadowed him with 1m 25.165s, while a late improvement from Maldonado, whom Lotus did not send out until the final 10 minutes, put the Venezuelan ahead of Raikkonen in the second Ferrari, 1m 25.242s to 1m 25.244s.

Perez kept Force India in play with 1m 25.515s for eighth fastest time, as Ericsson, despite complaining about power loss, took ninth for Sauber with 1m 25.692s. Grosjean completed the top 10 with 1m 25.747s for Lotus, ahead of Sauber’s Felipe Nasr on 1m 25.912s.

Nico Hulkenberg didn’t quite get it together in his Force India, which he took round in 1m 26.141s, as Fernando Alonso pipped McLaren team mate Jenson Button right at the end. The Spaniard managed a more respectable 1m 26.632s, the Briton 1m 26.750s.

Will Stevens was a surprise 17th for Marussia on 1m 28.123s, but team mate Roberto Merhi aborted a lap quicker than the 1m 29.117s which left him 19th.

Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen had set the early pace on intermediates and then medium slicks as the track continued to dry, but did not venture out later on because there was little point putting miles on their fresh engines with their grid penalties coming up.

The Dutchman was 16th on 1m 28.215s, the Spaniard 18th on 1m 28.628s, sandwiching Daniil Kvyat who was in the same boat in the lead Red Bull. As the Russian lapped in 1m 28.591s, team mate Ricciardo was left 20th on 1m 29.900s after his RB11 rolled to a halt at the second chicane with a suspected engine issue halfway through.

Results

1. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 24.544s
2. Sebastian Vettel GER Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 24.808s
3. Nico Rosberg GER Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 24.843s
4. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams-Mercedes 1m 24.946s
5. Felipe Massa BRZ Williams-Mercedes 1m 25.165s
6. Pastor Maldonado VEN Lotus-Mercedes 1m 25.242s
7. Kimi Raikkonen FIN Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 25.244s
8. Sergio Perez MEX Force India-Mercedes 1m 25.515s
9. Marcus Ericsson SWE Sauber-Ferrari 1m 25.692s
10. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus-Mercedes 1m 25.747s
11. Felipe Nasr BRZ Sauber-Ferrari 1m 25.912s
12. Nico Hulkenberg GER Force India-Mercedes 1m 26.141s
13. Fernando Alonso ESP McLaren-Honda 1m 26.632s
14. Jenson Button GBR McLaren-Honda 1m 26.750s
15. Will Stevens GBR Manor Marussia-Ferrari 1m 28.123s
16. Max Verstappen NED Toro Rosso-Renault 1m 28.215s
17. Daniil Kvyat RUS Red Bull-Renault 1m 28.591s
18. Carlos Sainz Jr ESP Toro Rosso-Renault 1m 28.628s
19. Roberto Merhi ESP Manor Marussia-Ferrari 1m 29.117s
20. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Red Bull-Renault 1m 29.900s

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