Hamilton still the fastest at Italian GP practice

MONZA, Italy — Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton remained fastest in the third and final practice session Saturday for the Italian Grand Prix, while Sebastian Vettel moved up to second in a positive sign for Ferrari fans at their home race.

Hamilton, the championship leader, was 0.264 seconds faster than Vettel, with Nico Rosberg in the other Mercedes nearly three tenths back in third.

Vettel was third in both of Friday’s practice sessions, when Mercedes took the top two spots.

The track quickly dried following a morning thunderstorm but remaining moisture may have contributed to several drivers struggling with front wheels locking up. There were no accidents, though.

Williams’ drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa placed fourth and fifth, respectively, followed by Pastor Maldonado of cash-strapped Lotus and Kimi Raikkonen in the other Ferrari.

Daniel Ricciardo had a problem with his Red Bull, coming to a stop alongside the track.

Qualifying was scheduled for later, and legions of red-clad Ferrari fans were still streaming into the Royal park that surrounds the Monza circuit.

Fans were already making themselves heard in practice, blowing air horns and cheering loudest for the Ferrari cars.

Vettel has won three times at Monza but this is his first season at Ferrari, having left Red Bull where he won four world championships.

Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Ferrari parent company Fiat Chrysler, and Ferrari vice chairman Piero Ferrari met with Vettel and Raikkonen before practice. It was exactly a year ago that Marchionne ordered a complete overhaul of Ferrari, which led to the departure of the automaker’s president of 23 years, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo.

Star Wars creator George Lucas was also among the celebrities in the paddock.

Source:: sportsnet.ca

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