September 7th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Sebastian Vettel set the pace in final practice for this weekend's Italian Grand Prix, lapping the Monza circuit in 1m24.360s, ahead of the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso and the second Red Bull of Mark Webber. Lewis Hamilton was fourth for Mercedes.
Red Bull continue to surprise at a track that was not expected to suit their car. The RB9 is not known for its straight-line speed, which is crucial at Monza, but yet Vettel continues to find the speed to dominate proceedings. Ferrari seem to have found some pace overnight, at least on Alonso's car. Alonso looks to be in the hunt for pole position, which will please the adoring Tifosi if he manages to achieve it.
It was an eventful session for Force India. Paul di Resta went straight on at Parabolica, the final corner, ending up with the nose of his car in the barrier, but without any major damage. He told the Force India team, "Something broke there" on the radio, indicating that he was either unable to slow down or unable to turn in to the corner.
Shortly afterwards, Adrian Sutil in the other Force India spun in the Ascari chicane, and Force india found an issue on the rear of his car that kept him in the pits for a while.
Nico Rosberg barely participated in the FP3 session. He had what appeared to be a gearbox issue - the car spent most of the session in the Mercedes garage iwth the gearbox off the car - and completed only 5 timed laps to record the slowest time in the session. Lewis Hamilton demonstrated that Mercedes have some speed by going fourth-fastest in the other Mercedes.
Tyre warm-up seems to be taking longer than expected around Monza, due to the long straights between corners. The tyres build up heat in the corners and then lose the heat down the straights. That has meant that the drivers are not able to extract maximum performance from the tyres on their first flying laps and are having to do longer runs to produce their fastest lap times. Sebastian Vettel did his fastest hard tyre lap on his tenth lap on that set of tyres. Qualifying is therefore likely to see lots of on-track action, rather than having drivers sit in the pits and waiting for a good time to take to the track.
Pastor Maldonado was the surprise inclusion in the top ten in FP3. He went quicker than Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus to set the ninth fastest time for Williams. Ahead of the weekend, Maldonado stated that he was aiming to score points at Monza, and it looks like his Williams car could have the pace to do it.
Full results from FP3:
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:24.360||18|
|3||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:24.677||0.317||22|
|16||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:25.702||1.342||19|
|17||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:26.120||1.760||11|
|19||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:27.172||2.812||20|