- Italian Grand Prix - FP3
Hamilton lays down a marker ahead of qualifying
Lewis Hamilton laid down an important marker ahead of qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, setting a quickest time of 1:22.498 to finish ahead of Sebastian Vettel and the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa on a glorious sunny morning at Monza.
McLaren decided to run a split strategy for the session, with Button sticking with the bigger rear wing and F-duct and Hamilton opting not to use the downforce-stalling device.
Hamilton was immediately on the pace, quickly lapping close to Vettel's best time of Friday. Not to be outdone, Button jumped to the top of the times ahead of Massa, who regrouped well after running wide into the gravel trap at the second Lesmo.
As the track temperature increased towards the end of the session and soft option tyres became the order of the day, the lap times tumbled further, Hamilton improving as a frustrated Alonso saw his final flying lap spoiled by Kamui Kobayashi. Vettel had no such problems on his final run, giving his rivals food for thought before the all-important qualifying session as he got within 0.05 seconds of Hamilton.
It was to prove a disappointing session for Mark Webber, his Red Bull grinding to a halt with an engine problem at the first chicane with 20 minutes of the session remaining, bringing out the yellow flags. As a result he did not complete a soft tyre run and will be left with plenty to mull over ahead of qualifying.
Nico Rosberg took Webber's place in the top six and got within 0.5 seconds of Hamilton. Nico Hulkenberg was eighth fastest after fitting a brand new Cosworth engine in his Williams ahead of the session. The Ferrari drivers also took fresh V8s, their eighth units of the season, but the team is adamant it will not leave them short later in the year.
Robert Kubica and Adrian Sutil rounded off the top ten, ahead of Rubens Barrichello and an impressive lap by Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi. Michael Schumacher was a disappointing 13th, nearly a second off the pace of his Mercedes team-mate Rosberg.
Force India's Tonio Liuzzi also had a below-par session, the slowest driver of the established teams and a second off team-mate Sutil. Behind him Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen led the way for Lotus in the battle of the new teams.