Monza FP3: Vettel Leads, Hamilton Struggles

After seeing his teammate top both practice sessions yesterday, it was Sebastian Vettel’s turn to set a fastest time with the German topping the final session before qualifying at Monza on Saturday.

Leading the way with a time of 1:20.294, Vettel made sure Ferrari continued their run of dominance so far this weekend, while also giving his own chances a much-needed boost as he searches for his second pole position of the season.

A session featuring both a delayed start due to Alexander Peroni’s heavy crash in F3, and several times deleted with stewards clamping down on track limits, the order behind the German was surprisingly mixed, with Max Verstappen — set to start at the back of the grid — only 0.032 seconds behind him.

Following Verstappen was the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, while Charles Leclerc could only manage fourth despite his strong showing in the Ferrari yesterday.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was an impressive fifth, finding a rhythm on his soft tyres that Lewis Hamilton couldn’t to edge the championship leader by 0.029 seconds.

That said, Mercedes seemed more interested in getting-in more race simulations for both its drivers, making extensive use of the medium tyre with seemingly more one-lap pace still to come.

Behind Hamilton was the other Renault of Nico Hulkenberg, albeit 0.188 seconds down on his teammate.

Alex Albon, who will be carrying the hopes of Red Bull with Verstappen’s looming grid penalty, could only manage P8 with a 1:20.752, half a second separating him from the Dutchman.

Antonio Giovinazzi and Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top ten, finding some timely form with both having a particular point to prove at this stage of the season.