Lewis Hamilton has finished FP3 as the quickest driver - but by the scarcest of margins...

Lewis Hamilton has firmed as a favourite to claim pole position for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, backing up yesterday’s fastest practice time by going quickest again in the third and final practice session at Monza.

The McLaren driver beat tifosi crowd favourite Fernando Alonso to top spot by the scarcest of margins: just one-thousandth of a second!

The Ferrari team enjoyed another competitive showing, with Felipe Massa ending the session fourth-quickest as the scarlet cars sandwiched the impressive Paul di Resta on the timesheets. Sadly for the Scot, his hopes of a career-best starting position will take a dent with news that the Force India driver will take a five-place grid penalty as a result of an unscheduled change to his gearbox needing to be made overnight.

Schumacher was hit with KERS and DRS woesForce India wasn’t the only outfit to endure mechanical dramas, either overnight of this morning. The Mercedes team was forced to apply to break the overnight curfew so its mechanics could perform emergency repairs to Michael Schumacher’s DRS, only for the German to then suffer a KERS failure in his hastily-repaired W03 – the seven-time World Champion finished just fourteenth-fastest in the session.

The worried faces extended to the Red Bull Racing garage as well, with defending race-winner Sebastian Vettel being forced to park his car in the dying minutes of the session with an apparent electrical failure. Team-mate Mark Webber had to contend with his own KERS gremlins in what was a troublesome one-hour session for the Milton Keynes squad.

Behind the leading quartet, last weekend’s race-winner Jenson Button was fifth-fastest despite complaining of low-speed grip issues. The Englishman finished ahead of Nico Rosberg, Sergio Pérez, Kimi Räikkönen, Nico Hülkenberg, and Pastor Maldonado.

Qualifying gets underway at 14:00 CET today.

2012 Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Session Times:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:24.578   18
2. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:24.579 + 0.001 15
3. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:24.849 + 0.271 20
4. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:24.909 + 0.331 16
5. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:24.994 + 0.416 17
6. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:25.036 + 0.458 22
7. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C31 1:25.160 + 0.582 23
8. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:25.255 + 0.677 19
9. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:25.289 + 0.711 20
10. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW34 1:25.383 + 0.805 18
11. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:25.389 + 0.811 21
12. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:25.406 + 0.828 17
13. Bruno Senna BRA Williams Renault FW34 1:25.461 + 0.883 21
14. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:25.563 + 0.985 23
15. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari C31 1:25.689 + 1.111 22
16. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:25.706 + 1.128 16
17. Jérôme d’Ambrosio BEL Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:25.973 + 1.395 20
18. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:26.003 + 1.425 19
19. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Caterham Renault CT01 1:26.657 + 2.079 18
20. Vitaly Petrov RUS Caterham Renault CT01 1:27.267 + 2.689 16
21. Charles Pic FRA Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:27.454 + 2.876 20
22. Timo Glock DEU Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:27.728 + 3.150 19
23. Narain Karthikeyan IND HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:28.035 + 3.457 23
24. Pedro de la Rosa ESP HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:28.384 + 3.806 17

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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.