Max Verstappen has the pace in third practice for the Italian Grand Prix, beating Charles Leclerc by 0.347s seconds.
Verstappen’s best time of 1m 21.252s came late on the soft tire, but his previous quickest lap on the medium compound would still have been quick enough for third, just behind teammate Sergio Perez’s best soft-compound lap and ahead of Carlos Sainz.
Leclerc, however, remains favorite for pole position given Verstappen, Perez and Sainz will all serve grid penalties on Sunday – though Verstappen’s drop is worth only five places, keeping him comfortably in victory contention.
Sainz was 0.645s off the pace after a troubled afternoon. He became the subject of a stewards investigation when he appeared to impede Valtteri Bottas at the first turn, forcing the Finn to lock up and take to the escape road to avoid a collision.
He was then recalled to his garage was an apparent fuel system problem – he’d also taken more new engine components overnight – returning to the track only near the end of the hour.
Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris were closely matched for Alpine and McLaren, the Spaniard pipping the Briton by just 0.013s.
George Russell was fractionally further back as the highest Mercedes driver, the W13 slipping further off the pace as the weekend progresses.
Yuki Tsunoda came within a tenth of beating him in his AlphaTauri for eighth. Esteban Ocon followed him in ninth, the Frenchman earning a five-place penalty for using a new internal combustion engine this session.
Lewis Hamilton completed the top 10 for Mercedes, running 1.3s off the pace.
Zhou Guanyu was 11th ahead of Pierre Gasly and Williams teammates Nicholas Latifi and Nyck de Vries.
De Vries is substituting for Alex Albon for the rest of the weekend after the Thai driver was diagnosed with a case of appendicitis requiring surgery. His time was particularly impressive given he hasn’t driven the Williams since FP1 at the Spanish Grand Prix in May, though he did partake in first practice on Friday for Aston Matin.
Daniel Ricciardo finished the hour 15th ahead of Valtteri Bottas, with Sebastian Vettel following.
Kevin Magnussen ended up 18th and was confirmed to be carrying new engine components worth a 15-place penalty.
Haas teammate Mick Schumacher managed only eight laps after spending almost the entire session stuck in his garage for a gearbox change. Combined with a new
internal combustion engine, the works earnt him a 15-place grid penalty, making him the ninth driver set to take a grid drop this weekend.
Lance Stroll completed the order in 20th, 2.4s off the pace.