• Italian Grand Prix - FP3

Hamilton edges Alonso by 0.001s in FP3

ESPN Staff
September 8, 2012
Lewis Hamilton was quickest for the second session in a row © Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton topped the third and final practice session for the Italian Grand Prix, edging out Fernando Alonso by the slimmest of margins ahead of the afternoon's qualifying session.

After an intense and close practice session on Friday afternoon, the McLaren and Ferrari were even split by just 0.001s in FP3. Third fastest was Force India's Paul di Resta, who is facing a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox swap this weekend, 0.271 further back.

Red Bull again appeared to be off the pace with Mark Webber 11th and Sebastian Vettel 12th. Vettel's woes were added to when his car stopped on track during his final run of the session with an alternator failure. After selecting seventh gear exiting Curva Grande he swiftly dropped through the gears to a controlled stop and radioed his team to say "low battery". Renault confirmed that it was a different issue to the one that hit Vettel in Valencia and that it would be replaced before qualifying without penalty.

While Mercedes power seemed to be dominant, the two Ferrari's are well in the mix with Felipe Massa fourth quickest, 0.331s slower than Hamilton. Jenson Button was less than a tenth further back but seemed to be struggling in the final sector after a spell spent out of the car in the McLaren garage, while Nico Rosberg showed Mercedes to still be competitive as he ended the session within half a second of the best time.

Michael Schumacher was only 14th quickest but still within a second of Hamilton and his lowly position was explained by a KERS failure that left him without the system for the majority of the session.

A number of drivers struggled in Parabolica during the session with Massa, Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen among those getting caught out with snap oversteer on turn-in as they looked for that extra tenth. With eight teams posting times within 0.8s of the best the stage is set for an extremely close qualifying session.