Sebastian Vettel led the way once again with the quickest time in final practice at Monza

Sebastian Vettel has firmed as a favourite for pole position and victory at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix with the fastest time in Saturday’s final practice session before qualifying this afternoon.

The Red Bull Racing driver took a further one-tenth of a second off his best time from Friday practice – where he was fastest in FP2 – to edge out crowd favourite, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who finished just under 0.3 seconds slower than the German.

Conditions were again similar to those experienced yesterday, and Vettel was quick to assume provisional top spot on the timesheets and made further improvements to his benchmark lap time when he switched over to the quicker Medium-compound Pirelli tyres as the one-hour session progressed

Alonso was a big improver from Friday to Saturday – halving the gap to Vettel overnight – and the Spaniard will fancy his chances of claiming Ferrari’s first pole position of the season. The two-time World Champion managed to avoid a Red Bull 1-2 on the timesheets, bumping Mark Webber into third place by just four-hundredths of a second.

Lewis Hamilton finished the session fourth-fastest at the end of the hour, although the Mercedes driver suffered a number of off-track excursions as he explored the limits of the F1W04’s adhesion around the highest-speed circuit on the calendar. Teammate Nico Rosberg finished the session bog last, his running ended after just five laps when he was hit with an overheating issue.

Fifth and sixth-fastest were rather more surprising, with Sergio Pérez taking his McLaren to the rather giddy heights of fifth-fastest, while Daniel Ricciardo finally managed to get his Toro Rosso hooked up after a disappointing Friday to finish one spot behind. The young Australian was quickest through the speed traps as well.

Felipe Massa was seventh-quickest and the last driver under the 1m25s barrier, edging out the second McLaren of Jenson Button, who beat home Pastor Maldonado and Kimi Räikkönen, who reverts to the more conventionally-wheelbased Lotus for the remainder of the weekend. Räikkönen’s teammate Romain Grosjean was only fourteenth, struggling with a lack of grip in his E21.

Paul di Resta loses it under braking at the ParabolicaForce India had a poor session and will struggle to make it into the final ten in qualifying, assuming either one – or both – of its drivers can make it past Q1. Paul di Resta suffered heavy front-end damage to his VJM06 when he had a heavy accident at the Parabolica. Teammate Adrian Sutil kept his car on the island, but his car had little pace and he was only 17th-fastest.

2013 Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 3 Session Times:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 1:24.360   18
2. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F138 1:24.643 + 0.283 13
3. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 1:24.677 + 0.317 22
4. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 1:24.712 + 0.352 17
5. Sergio Pérez MEX McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 1:24.864 + 0.504 19
6. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 1:24.865 + 0.505 19
7. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F138 1:24.995 + 0.635 14
8. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 1:25.103 + 0.743 15
9. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW35 1:25.116 + 0.756 20
10. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E21 1:25.120 + 0.760 18
11. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 1:25.136 + 0.776 16
12. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Sauber Ferrari C32 1:25.273 + 0.913 21
13. Esteban Gutiérrez MEX Sauber Ferrari C32 1:25.324 + 0.964 22
14. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E21 1:25.499 + 1.139 17
15. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams Renault FW35 1:25.660 + 1.300 21
16. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes VJM06 1:25.702 + 1.342 19
17. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM06 1:26.120 + 1.760 11
18. Charles Pic FRA Caterham Renault CT03 1:26.607 + 2.247 21
19. Giedo van der Garde NED Caterham Renault CT03 1:27.172 + 2.812 20
20. Jules Bianchi FRA Marussia Cosworth MR02 1:27.605 + 3.245 18
21. Max Chilton GBR Marussia Cosworth MR02 1:27.665 + 3.305 18
22. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 1:27.882 + 3.462 5 supports a world free of factory farming. Learn more and pledge your support by CLICKING HERE!

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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.