Lewis Hamilton has vaulted to the top of the practice timesheets in the third and final practice session of the Italian Grand Prix, and his feat was all the more impressive as  Lewis Hamilton topped the final practice sessionhe achieved this without an ‘F-duct’ fitted to his McLaren.

Running with the downforce totally trimmed from his McLaren, he Briton edged out Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel by less than five-hundredths of a second in a very competitive practice session that the teams use to determine final tweaks to use for this afternoon’s qualifying session.

Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa (who enjoyed a high-speed moment through the Lesmo gravel) and Jenson Button rounded out the top-five, with Button winding up just 0.226 seconds slowed while running his McLaren with the ‘F-duct’ and more rear wing than his team-mate.

However, it was more bad news for Mark Webber, who lost more running time when he ground to a halt after nine tours of the Monza circuit.

Regardless of their set-up direction, McLaren faces itself with the enviable decision to choosing which set-up option to go with, after effectively dominating the final 60-minute practice session.

Hamilton had initially been the quicker of the two, but Button was able to move to the top of the leaderboard with a soft-tyre run, before Alonso created some delight for the tifosi when he moved to the top of the timing monitors with two hot laps in the 1m22.6s range.

Then, with just under two minutes to go, Hamilton moved back to the top of the order with a great lap and some assistance with a tow from Adrian Sutil’s Force India along the back straight to post a 1:22.498.

Alonso attempted one final crack at wresting control of the session from Hamilton, only to find Kamui Kobayashi dawdling on the racing line through the Parabolica – the point at which Alonso was particularly quick on the circuit. This prompted much Latin fist-waving from the fiery Spaniard, and it also saw him deposed to third place when Vettel was able to sneak into second place on his final hot lap.

Behind the top-five runners, Nico Rosberg took a steady sixth-quickest for Mercedes GP, while Webber’s stoppage at the first chicane marked this as the second session this weekend in which he has been stymied by mechanical issues.

The ever-improving Williams outfit had another positive session, with Nico Hülkenberg outpacing the more experienced Rubens Barrichello for the first time in awhile; the pair was split by Robert Kubica and Adrian Sutil.


2010 Italian GP Practice 3 Session Times:

  Driver   Team Time Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes 1:22.498 19
2. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Renault + 0.047 21
3. Fernando Alonso ESP Ferrari + 0.146 15
4. Felipe Massa BRA Ferrari + 0.150 16
5. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes + 0.226 19
6. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes GP + 0.448 17
7. Mark Webber AU Red Bull Renault + 0.584 9
8. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Williams Cosworth + 0.631 18
9. Robert Kubica POL Renault + 0.711 20
10. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes + 0.805 19
11. Rubens Barrichello BRA Williams Cosworth + 0.952 19
12. Sébastien Buemi SUI Toro Rosso Ferrari + 1.175 20
13. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes GP + 1.398 21
14. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari + 1.410 24
15. Jaime Alguersuari ESP Toro Rosso Ferrari + 1.411 17
16. Vitaly Petrov RUS Renault + 1.469 19
17. Pedro de la Rosa ESP Sauber Ferrari + 1.693 19
18. Vitantonio Liuzzi ITA_thumb2[1] Force India Mercedes + 1.941 15
19. Jarno Trulli ITA_thumb2[1] Lotus Cosworth + 3.290 14
20. Heikki Kovalainen FIN_thumb[2] Lotus Cosworth + 3.427 16
21. Timo Glock DEU Virgin Racing Cosworth + 3.936 18
22. Lucas di Grassi BRA Virgin Racing Cosworth + 4.184 19
23. Bruno Senna BRA HRT Cosworth + 4.973 18
24. Sakon Yamamoto JPN HRT Cosworth + 6.232 14

[Original image via LAT]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.