FP3: Vettel fastest, but Hamilton closes in
In the final running in Italy before the teams turn their attention to qualifying, it was Sebastian Vettel who topped the timesheet at Monza’s ‘Temple of Speed’– but Mercedes weren’t far off Ferrari, with Lewis Hamilton just 0.081s behind the pacesetter.
Having topped FP2 ahead of team mate Kimi Raikkonen on Friday, Vettel repeated his exploits with a blistering 1m 20.509s, and he now heads into qualifying with much-needed momentum, given his Italian squad were once again quicker than Mercedes on home soil.
Hamilton, who on Friday predicted a tight battle with the Prancing Horse this weekend, led the Silver Arrows’ challenge in this final practice session, and was hot on the heels of his chief title rival, while the sister Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas finished P4.
Behind the top four, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished fifth and the Dutchman had earlier showed impressive pace on the harder, soft-compound tyres, while the rest of his rivals were running on the quickest supersoft rubber, before switching to the red-marked tyres and finishing 0.879s behind Vettel.
Force India were the quickest of the middle-order teams on Friday, but on Saturday Haas hit back as Kevin Magnussen finished in an impressive sixth place, ahead of Esteban Ocon.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, meanwhile, came home in eighth, but the Australian had his eyes on Sunday's race rather than qualifying, with the Australian already handed a grid penalty for taking on a new Renault power unit this weekend.
Sauber rookie Charles Leclerc repeated his FP2 exploits by delivering a P9 for the Swiss team, with the sister Haas of Romain Grosjean pipping Force India’s Sergio Perez to tenth.
So it's Ferrari who have their tails up ahead of qualifying, but Hamilton's FP3 pace suggests they can certainly mount a challenge for pole. Should be an exciting one, then.