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Carlos Sainz during FP3 at the Italian Grand Prix

Italian Grand Prix: F1 FP3 results

As Max Verstappen's dominance in Formula One continues, it appears that Ferrari may represent his biggest competition in Monza. But who will top the timesheet in the final free practice session before qualifying?

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Carlos Sainz tops the timesheet in free practice three at the Italian Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas leads Lance Stroll as the light goes green for free practice three at the Italian Grand Prix
Valtteri Bottas leads Lance Stroll as the light goes green for free practice three at the Italian Grand Prix. (Image Credit: @F1 on X)

Going into the Italian Grand Prix weekend, Charles Leclerc teased that Ferrari may be able to mount a challenge against Max Verstappen. And considering the Scuderia’s timings during free practice one and two, especially those of Carlos Sainz, perhaps they are Red Bull’s main competition this weekend.

With Verstappen and Sainz topping the timesheets in FP1 and FP2, respectively, who will set the pace in FP3? After the red flag affected free practice two, the drivers still have plenty to learn ahead of qualifying. Additionally, Monza will see the return of the new qualifying format that the sport debuted back in Budapest.

The start of free practice three

As the light went green for FP3, Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas was the first driver to leave the pit lane. The rest of the field were quick to get back out on track apart from Verstappen, Alex Albon, and Oscar Piastri. Sergio Perez set the early pace with a 1:22.662 on a set of soft tyres. But the Mexican driver was swiftly replaced by Lando Norris, also on softs.

Of course, on his first flying lap, Verstappen stormed to the top of the timesheet with a 1:21.838, 0.677 quicker than Norris. 10 minutes into the session, and everyone bar Albon and Piastri had a time on the board.

Yet again, all three Pirelli tyre compounds were being used during the practice session. The Aston Martin pair had selected the hard tyre, with Haas, Alfa Romeo, and AlphaTauri opting for the mediums. While the rest of the field chose the soft compound. 15 minutes into FP3, we finally got all 20 cars out on track, as Piastri was the last driver to leave the pit lane.

Traffic continues to be an issue

The topic of traffic has been a constant talking point this weekend so far, and it continues to be an issue. Yuki Tsunoda appeared annoyed by a Ferrari lingering in the middle of the track whilst he was on a push lap.

Could this incident be foreshadowing issues to come in qualifying? To try to ensure drivers are not driving too slowly when they are not on a push lap, Race Director Niels Wittich published a new directive.

At the halfway mark

After the first 30 minutes of the session, it was still Verstappen with the quickest time. The Dutch driver’s 1:21.687 was 0.505 quicker than his teammate’s best time in P2. Kevin Magnussen, Lewis Hamilton, Sainz, Norris, Piastri, Fernando Alonso, George Russell, and Leclerc made up the top ten. Daniel Ricciardo’s stand in Liam Lawson was down in P16, with only 2023 rookie Logan Sargeant separating him and his teammate Tsunoda.

Five minutes later, Albon completed a very good lap on a set of medium tyres to go P2 behind Verstappen. The Williams driver set a 1:22.114, 0.427 behind the reigning world champion.

A near miss for Norris

The McLaren had to take avoiding action and had to ride the kerb when he found an Alfa Romeo on the racing line. Zhou Guanyu received the black and white flag for impending Norris.

Moments later his teammate Piastri got all out of shape on his push lap and took to the gravel.

With less than 15 minutes to go, the field started to fit new soft tyres for their qualifying simulations. After setting his latest fastest lap, Hamilton became the first driver to dethrone Verstappen with a 1:21.453, 0.234 quicker than the Red Bull driver. But Verstappen was still yet to complete his final fresh soft tyre run.

But, as expected, Verstappen went 0.455 quicker than Hamilton on his set of new softs. The Dutch driver went back to the top of the timesheet with a 1:20.998. However, Sainz was able to top Verstappen’s latest effort to go 0.086 quicker. His teammate went wide on his push lap and took to the pits.

While the times were tumbling at the top of the timesheet, Bottas had an off-track adventure on his push lap.

Turn four collision

Towards the end of the session, Piastri and Sainz were noted by the stewards for causing a collision at turn four. The two came together during the Belgian Grand Prix, which saw the end of the Australian’s race at turn one.

While Sainz was adamant that the previous incident was Piastri’s fault, the stewards have sided with the Australian on this occasion. The Ferrari driver was shown the black and white flag as the session came to an end, as Sainz impeded Piastri with a minor collision also occurring.

Final classification

Sainz was quickest again in free practice three. Verstappen, Hamilton, Leclerc, Alonso, Russell, Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Albon, and Perez rounded out the top ten. Lawson finished the session P12, one place above his teammate. While both of the McLarens were down in P14 (Piastri) and P17 (Norris).

Perez finished P10 after failing to complete his final soft tyre push lap. The Mexican driver’s practice session came to a premature end as he suffered a leak.

 

Feature Image Credit: @ScuderiaFerrari on X

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