Vettel heads final free practice, leaving Hamilton to chase

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Sebastian Vettel topped the final free practice timesheet at Monza, edging championship rival Lewis Hamilton by 0.081s in a session run under dry conditions.

Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas's presence right behind the leading duo means the battle at the front this afternoon in qualifying is likely to be finely poised.

Italian Grand Prix - Free Practice 3

1Sebastian VettelFerrari1:20.509s18
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:20.590s+ 0.081s14
3Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:20.682s+ 0.173s16
4Valtteri BottasMercedes1:21.112s+ 0.603s18
5Max VerstappenRed Bull1:21.388s+ 0.879s15
6Kevin MagnussenHaas1:22.011s+ 1.502s15
7Esteban OconForce India1:22.055s+ 1.546s16
8Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1:22.310s+ 1.801s15
9Charles LeclercSauber1:22.313s+ 1.804s17
10Romain GrosjeanHaas1:22.357s+ 1.848s16
11Sergio PérezForce India1:22.486s+ 1.977s13
12Pierre GaslyToro Rosso1:22.631s+ 2.122s20
13Carlos SainzRenault1:22.737s+ 2.228s15
14Sergey SirotkinWilliams1:22.778s+ 2.269s20
15Lance StrollWilliams1:22.860s+ 2.351s19
16Marcus EricssonSauber1:22.882s+ 2.373s25
17Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1:22.892s+ 2.383s23
18Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1:22.987s+ 2.478s16
19Nico HülkenbergRenault1:23.149s+ 2.640s10
20Brendon HartleyToro Rosso1:23.164s+ 2.655s19

Formula 1 folk woke up to another damp day at the Temple of Speed this morning, but the air was dry by the time FP3 rolled around.

It was a sleepless night in Monza however for Sauber, whose mechanics put in the hours necessary to rebuild a new car for Marcus Ericsson after the Swede's dramatic crash in FP2 yesterday.

Fit and well, Ericsson was among the first to take to the track when the light went green, followed by a dozen other drivers as everyone conducted their installation laps.

Various radio messages pointed to a "greasy track" after yesterday's rubber was washed away by the overnight rain.

McLaren's Fernando Alonso was the first to register a lap time, laying down a 1m25.734s on soft tyres, followed by Renault's Nico Hulkenberg less than a tenth behind.

A look at Ericsson's running shows the Saubers' DRS closing a bit earlier than expected, perhaps as the result of a cautious manual approach by its driver.

Upping the pace, Kimi Raikkonen put himself at the top of the timesheet with a 1m21.484s, with Lewis Hamilton slotting his Mercedes in second position, two tenths off the Ferrari driver.

After a few observatory laps, and a big lockup, Sebastian Vettel went third, sixth tenths off the pace of his team mate, while Valtteri Bottas was right behind in fourth until Red Bull's Max Verstappen demoted him.

At the front, Hamilton's ongoing efforts on the supersoft tyre enabled him to edge Raikkonen by just 0.007s!

Force India's pink panthers appeared to maintain their firm grip on the midfield, with Esteban Ocon leading Sergio Perez as the pair dueled for P7.

After a pitstop and a bit of tweaking, Vettel rejoined and promptly disposed of Hamilton, his 1m21.035s putting the German 0.3s up on the Brit.

Vettel was relentless however, and bettered his time with a 1m20.509s that put him 0.883s clear of Hamilton. Raikkonen was quick to respond however and got within 0.173s of his team mate's pace, but a last run from Hamilton ultimately allowed the Silver Arrows driver to split the red cars.

The latter part of Ricciardo's session saw the Aussie focus on race runs on the supersoft rubber, a logical move as his engine penalty puts him out of contention for a spot at the front of the grid in qualifying.

As a consequence, both Haas' Kevin Magnussen and Ocon moved up ahead of the Honey Badger in sixth and seventh.

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