After topping the afternoon timesheet yesterday, Lewis Hamilton maintained his grip on the free practice session in Monza, the McLaren driver running quickest in FP3 with a lap of 1:24.578.
The Briton was pushed hard by Fernando Alonso, however, with the Ferrari driver ending the one-hour session just a thousandth of the second behind Hamilton.
Third place in the session went to Paul Di Resta, a result that will encourage the Force India driver as his team was forced to make a gearbox change to his car this morning, incurring an automatice five-place grid drop.
The early part of the session was defined by the use of the hard Pirelli tyre, the teams looking for final long-run data, and again it was Hamilton and Alonso battling at the head of the field. Hamilton slotted in a time of 1:24.687 before Alonso deposed him with a lap just over two tenths quicker.
Once the half-hour mark arrived, though, the remainder of the session was all about qualifying runs on the medium tyre, with Alonso and Hamilton continuing their nip and tuck battle until the end.
Further back, Felipe Massa was fourth for Ferrari, with McLaren’s Jenson Button fifth and Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg sixth. The German’s team-mate, Michael Schumacher, had topped the FP1 timesheet but this morning encountered reliability problems with his KERS and ended up 14th. Seventh place was taken by Sauber’s Perez and the top ten was completed by the trio of Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Williams’ Pastor Maldonado.
It wasn’t the happiest morning for Red Bull Racing. Off the pace for most of the session, Mark Webber eventually recovered to 11th, while Sebastian Vettel finished 12th. The German ended the session early, however, a battery fault forcing him to cruise to a halt at the second chicane in the final minutes of the hour.