Practice Three: Vettel sets the pace

Sebastian Vettel was the man to beat on Monza, as he pipped Mark Webber to the P1 slot in the final seconds of practice

Despite many predicting that Monza could be a bogey track for the Red Bulls, the defending Champ proved to have the better pace on the both the medium and soft Pirelli compounds.

With drivers focussing on longer runs in the first 40 minutes of the session, Vettel topped the timesheets with a 1:24.000, putting him just ahead of Webber.

And when they all switched to the soft compound in the latter stages, it was again Vettel who had the better pace.

The German posted a 1:23.170 to finish 0.364s ahead of his team-mate Webber while Felipe Massa was third ahead of the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

Report: With the sun out and the track temperature at 29'C, the Italian GP's final practice session got underway with Jerome D'Ambrosio leading out the field for their installation laps. The Belgian, driving a heavily revised Virgin MVR02, also set the first time of the morning, a 1:32.578.

Heikki Kovalainen and then Jarno Trulli led the way before Michael Schumacher crossed the line with a 1:26.943. Nico Rosberg took over from Schumacher at the front with Jenson Button and Mark Webber second and third. Schumacher put in a 360' at the first chicane, hitting the controversial speed bumps.

Lewis Hamilton slotted into third place on his first attempt while Button improved to first before losing it to Webber. Sebastian Vettel was fifth before two fastest sector times saw him jump to the front with a 1:24.000.

Halfway through the session, Fernando Alonso emerged in his 150° Italia, which was fitted with a higher downforce front wing. The Spaniard's first time was a 1:26.027, two seconds off Vettel's time. But by the end of his first run he was P7 with Felipe Massa just ahead.

Rosberg headed out on the softer option Pirellis and put his Merc GP into first place, 0.125s up on Vettel. Sergio Perez, also on the options, improved to ninth while his team-mate Kamui Kobayashi visited the gravel at the second Lesmo. Schumacher climbed from 14th to third on the soft tyres.

Webber overhauled Schumacher only for the Merc GP driver to bounce right back while Alonso improved to fourth. With almost everyone out on the softs for the final few minutes, Button moved up to second, Webber went quickest, Massa took second, Hamilton sixth, Webber bettered his time, Vettel moved up to third before going straight on at the chicane, Hamilton took third off him and Vettel went quickest with a 1:23.170, 0.364s up on Webber.

01. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m23.170 18 laps
02. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:23.534 + 0.364 19 laps
03. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:23.668 + 0.498 14 laps
04. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.741 + 0.571 17 laps
05. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.787 + 0.617 16 laps
06. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:23.875 + 0.705 22 laps
07. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:24.114 + 0.944 20 laps
08. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:24.133 + 0.963 14 laps
09. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:24.543 + 1.373 21 laps
10. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:24.581 + 1.411 22 laps
11. Bruno Senna Renault 1:24.853 + 1.683 20 laps
12. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:24.889 + 1.719 19 laps
13. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:24.948 + 1.778 22 laps
14. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:25.261 + 2.091 21 laps
15. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:24.319 + 2.149 19 laps
16. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:25.426 + 2.256 19 laps
17. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:25.439 + 2.269 22 laps
18. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1:25.539 + 2.369 19 laps
19. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1:27.328 + 4.158 19 laps
20. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1:27.491 + 4.321 21 laps
21. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1:28.186 + 5.016 23 laps
22. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1:28.441 + 5.271 22 laps
23. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:28.962 + 5.792 17 laps
24. Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1:30.316 + 7.146 16 laps

Source: Planet-F1