Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel beat Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen by just under four hundredths of a second to clinch top spot in a tight final practice session for the Italian Grand Prix that saw the top five drivers separated by just 0.270s.
Track time in the session was abbreviated by 10 minutes as circuit works remove a kerb from the outside of the Parabolica curve and to repair fencing following an incident in the earlier FIA Formula 3 race in which Alex Peroni’s car had been flipped into the air after contact with the kerb. The Australian racer’s landed upside down on the barriers but Peroni was able to walk away from the heavy crash.
When F1 running got underway Vettel’s team-mate Charles Leclerc, who had gone fastest in both opening practice sessions on Friday, led the way again in the first part of the final hour of practice with a time of 1:20.452, 0.159 ahead of Vettel with a surprise figure, Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, third.
However, when the drivers emerged for their qualifying simulations it was Vettel who went quickest, with the German benefiting from a slipstream provided by his team-mate. Vettel thus claimed top spot ahead of Leclerc with a time of 1:20.294.
Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen, this weekend running a spec 4 Honda engine, then split the Ferrari drivers with a lap just 0.032 slower than Vettel’s. Verstappen’s pace will count for little in qualifying, however, as the Dutchman’s engine change will see him take a penalty and start at the back of the grid.
Having been edged out of P2 by Verstappen, Leclerc was then dropped to P4 by Valtteri Bottas. Leclerc set an identical time to the Mercedes driver but Bottas claimed P3 b y virtue of setting the time first.
Behind Leclerc, Ricciardo’s good form continued as the Australian, in a Renault that should be disadvantaged by the power-sensitive Monza layout, claimed P5 in the session with a lap of 1:30.564. The good performance left Ricciardo 0.270s off Vettel’s pace.
A strangely muted outing from Lewis Hamilton left the championship leader in sixth place and three tenths of a second off the pace at the end of the session.
Nico Hulkenberg in the second Renault took seventh place 0.157s behind Hamilton, while Alex Albon finished eighth in the second Red Bull, half a second off the pace. The Thai driver failed to get a clean lap in the closing stages, with a mistake through one of the chicanes, and he also complained of handling issues in the track’s slower sections.
Antonio Giovinazzi was ninth for Alfa Romeo Racing ahead of Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat who ended the session 0.651s off the pace, in tenths place.
2019 FIA Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 14 1:20.294
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 11 1:20.326 0.032
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 23 1:20.403 0.109
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 14 1:20.403 0.109
5 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 11 1:20.564 0.270
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 21 1:20.595 0.301
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 13 1:20.752 0.458
8 Alex Albon Red Bull Racing 17 1:20.827 0.533
9 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 15 1:20.881 0.587
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 20 1:20.945 0.651
11 Carlos Sainz McLaren 21 1:20.949 0.655
12 Sergio Perez Racing Point 15 1:21.003 0.709
13 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 22 1:21.073 0.779
14 Lando Norris McLaren 21 1:21.292 0.998
15 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 19 1:21.325 1.031
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas 16 1:21.336 1.042
17 Romain Grosjean Haas 16 1:21.621 1.327
18 Lance Stroll Racing Point 17 1:21.639 1.345
19 George Russell Williams 22 1:22.374 2.080
20 Robert Kubica Williams 21 1:22.758 2.464