Sebastian Vettel kept his Red Bull out of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari’s reach in final practice ahead of Italian Grand Prix qualifying.
The session was a battle between Alonso and Red Bull duo Vettel and Mark Webber throughout. Vettel repeated his Friday afternoon performance at first with a 1m24.551s lap that was six tenths of a second clear of his two rivals.
Alonso could feel there was more speed to come, though, having abandoned a better lap due to yellow flags for Paul di Resta crashing at the Parabolica.
Ferrari had previously tried slipstreaming tactics, with Alonso and Felipe Massa taking turns to tow each other round on their first runs. When they switched to softer tires for the final laps, Vettel improved first to a 1m24.478s, then a 1m24.360s.
Alonso took second from Webber as both also improved on each of their last runs. But the order remained the same, with Alonso in a Red Bull sandwich and the trio covered by 0.317sec. Lewis Hamilton ultimately got within 0.035sec of Webber in his Mercedes. His teammate Nico Rosberg will go into qualifying somewhat compromised as a technical problem limited him to only five laps in the session.
McLaren had an encouraging morning as Sergio Perez took fifth and Jenson Button eighth after a long top-five spell.
Toro Rosso, which won at Monza with Vettel in 2008, also showed great promise as Red Bull-bound Daniel Ricciardo blasted in two rapid laps on his final run to earn sixth ahead of Massa.
Pastor Maldonado put Williams in the top 10 in ninth, as Lotus slumped to 10th and 14th with Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.
Aside from di Resta’s Parabolica accident, which he put down to a technical breakage on his Force India, there were also incidents at the Ascaris for Adrian Sutil and Jean-Eric Vergne. Both continued unscathed.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m24.360s 18 2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m24.643s +0.283 13 3. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m24.677s +0.317 22 4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m24.712s +0.352 17 5. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.864s +0.504 19 6. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m24.865s +0.505 19 7. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m24.995s +0.635 14 8. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.103s +0.743 15 9. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m25.116s +0.756 2010. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m25.120s +0.760 1811. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m25.136s +0.776 1612. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.273s +0.913 2113. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.324s +0.964 2214. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m25.499s +1.139 1715. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m25.660s +1.300 2116. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m25.702s +1.342 1917. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m26.120s +1.760 1118. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m26.607s +2.247 2119. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m27.172s +2.812 2020. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m27.605s +3.245 1821. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m27.665s +3.305 1822. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m27.822s +3.462 5