Monza Practice 3: Hamilton tops by 0.001 seconds from Alonso

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27. Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Practice, Monza, Italy, Friday 7 September 2012.

Lewis Hamilton topped the final free practice session at Monza

Sep.8 (GP247) It could hardly have been any closer at the very top of the timing screens as Lewis Hamilton ended the third and final free practice session of the Italian Grand Prix a mere 0.001 seconds faster than Fernando Alonso, setting the scene for a fascinating qualifying session at Monza.

Fernando Alonso Ferrari Monza Italian Grand Prix McLaren‘s Hamilton set his best time during his final run on the medium compound tyres, displacing Alonso whose Ferrari had topped the timing screens for most of the session. The Spaniard using some crafty slip-streaming, in conjunction with teammate Felipe Massa, to extract the maximum from the F2012 on the high speed circuit.

Hamilton’s best time of 1 minute 24.578 seconds was three quarters of a second up on the best time he set in FP2 the previous day.

A quarter second down on the leading duo was next best, Paul Di Resta in the force India who split the Ferrari pair after the 60 minute session. Massa was fourth.

Spa winner Jenson Button was fifth fastest, ahead of Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes and Sergio Perez in the Sauber, making it four Mercedes powered cars and three Ferrari powered cars in the top seven.

Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM05. Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Practice, Monza, Italy, Friday 7 September 2012.

Paul di Resta was third fastest

Best of the Renault powered posse was again Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus, but his teammate Jerome D’Ambrosio (temporarily replacing Romain Grosjean) could only manage 17th.

Nico Hulkenberg was half a  second down on his Force India teammate and in ninth place on the timing sheets, ahead of Williams driver Pastor Maldonado who rounded out the top ten.

Creased brows and glum looks were the order of the morning on the Red Bull gantry as there drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel ended the session 11th and 12 respectively. But the apparent lack of pace was not the only cause for concern, because with a few minutes to go in the session they watched in bemusement as Vettel coasted to a halt informing his team over the radio: “no battery”.

The world champions are either putting on an Oscar winning bluff or have a serious problem ahead of qualifying…as they did a week ago at Spa.

At the sharp end it is all to play for in qualifying, but in truth pole at Monza will not be vital. On the evidence of the morning session there are several top spot contenders but betting against either Mclaren or Alonso would be unwise.

Having said that, at the end of the session there were seven different constructors in the top ten while 1.111 seconds separated the top 15 drivers. F1 has never been so close.

Subbed by AJN.

Italian Grand Prix, Free Practice 3 – Saturday, 8 September 2012

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:24.578 18
2 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:24.579 0.001 15
3 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:24.849 0.271 20
4 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:24.909 0.331 16
5 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:24.994 0.416 17
6 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:25.036 0.458 22
7 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:25.160 0.582 23
8 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:25.255 0.677 19
9 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:25.289 0.711 20
10 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:25.383 0.805 18
11 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:25.389 0.811 21
12 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:25.406 0.828 17
13 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:25.461 0.883 21
14 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:25.563 0.985 23
15 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:25.689 1.111 22
16 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:25.706 1.128 16
17 10 Jerome D’Ambrosio Lotus-Renault 1:25.973 1.395 20
18 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:26.003 1.425 19
19 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:26.657 2.079 18
20 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:27.267 2.689 16
21 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:27.454 2.876 20
22 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:27.728 3.150 19
23 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:28.035 3.457 23
24 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:28.384 3.806 17