Sebastian Vettel continued where he left off yesterday with fastest time in this morning’s free practice ahead of Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.
The air temperature at the start of the session was a balmy 27c, and continued to creep higher as the sun filtered through the parkland trees; however, that very same foliage, one of the key features of the Monza circuit, ensured track temperatures themselves were significantly lower to begin with.
Sergio Perez set an early benchmark of 1:26:004 to put McLaren ahead in their early battle with key championship rivals Force India, before Kimi Raikkonen, now running with the original shorter-wheelbase Lotus E21 after Friday’s experimenting, sent the times into the mid 1:25’s.
Nico Rosberg lost out on some track time as his mechanics were forced to dismantle his car to discern whether a faulty sensor or a genuine problem was causing increased temperature readings on his telemetry. Still, they could count themselves lucky they don’t work for Force India – Paul Di Resta’s team faces a minor rebuild of the Scot’s car ahead of qualifying after the Brit speared off the track at Parabolica when ‘something broke’ on the rear of his VJM06.
Times surpassed the fastest lap of 1:24:578 from 2012’s FP3 session with seven minutes remaining as qualifying simulation became the order of the day – low fuel, grippy Pirelli’s and skinny wings gave us an indication of what to expect this afternoon.
It was not until Nico Hulkenberg ventured out that the white-marked, medium Pirelli compound made an appearance, an action that prompted the customary flurry of activity in the pitlane with all the drivers heading out onto the circuit.
Sebastian Vettel shaved a tenth off his previous fastest on his second timed lap, a trend repeated by much of the field including Ferrari who were more competitive on the medium compound than they had proven on the hard Pirelli rubber. The German ended the session fastest on a 1:24:360, ahead of Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton. Sergio Perez was 5th, while Daniel Ricciardo impressed again for Toro Rosso with 6th place. just 0.5 off his future team-mate’s outright pace.
CLASSIFICATION – FP3 – ITALIAN GRAND PRIX
|17||Di Resta||Force India||1:26:120|
|19||Van Der Garde||Caterham||1:27:172|