• Italian Grand Prix - FP3

Vettel extends advantage in final practice

Laurence Edmondson September 10, 2011
Sebastian Vettel attacks the Ascari chicane © Getty Images

Sebastian Vettel kept Red Bull at the top of the timesheets for the second free practice session in a row at Monza and was joined at the sharp end by team-mate Mark Webber.

Vettel's third practice time was the fastest of the weekend so far, clocking a 1:23.170 to sit comfortably fastest ahead of Webber 0.364s behind. Felipe Massa was Red Bull's closest competitor, giving Ferrari some hope at their home grand prix, while McLaren failed to find the necessary improvements to leapfrog their rivals from Friday.

Lewis Hamilton set a 1:23.741 and was the fastest man through the first two sectors but appears to be losing time in the high-speed Parabolica corner that feeds the cars onto the pit straight. His team-mate Jenson Button was fifth fastest but spent much of the session tinkering with his setup as he tried to find the best compromise of downforce, top speed and agility over Monza's high kerbs.

The two Mercedes again showed potential with Nico Rosberg sixth and Michael Schumacher seventh. Of the front runners, they were the first to go out on the faster soft tyres so may even trouble the cars ahead when they take to the track in qualifying at the same time. Fernando Alonso was a rather disappointing eighth, but it's worth bearing in mind that the top eight were separated by less than a second and not all the drivers would have been on the same fuel load.

Alonso will be keen to move up the standings in qualifying as Ferrari's top brass are at the circuit, including president Luca di Montezemolo, Piero Ferrari (Enzo's son) and Lapo Elkann (an heir of the Agnelli family who has been linked to Montezemolo's post in the future). The fans cheered the arrival of the president - as is customary on a Saturday morning at Monza - but will be hoping for a little more to get excited about in the afternoon.

Force India lived up to their reputation of being fast on low-drag circuits and comfortably led the midfield with Adrian Sutil ninth and Paul di Resta tenth. The Renault pair were roughly 0.3s behind the Force Indias, with Bruno Senna on form again and ahead of team-mate Vitaly Petrov.

The two Saubers followed next on the timing sheets in 13th and 14th with a mix of Williamses and Toro Rossos making up the positions ahead of the Lotuses, Virgins and HRTs.