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Vettel quickest in final practice


Ahead of today's sole practice session the air temperature is 19.7 degrees C, while the track temperature is 25.2 degrees.

Following yesterday's changeable conditions, it is far more settled today, with the sun shining and temperatures rising. However, with rain forecast tomorrow the teams face a dilemma.

While Leclerc was quickest in both session, Mercedes admits that Ferrari's advantage is not as great as initially feared, though both teams have yet to truly stretch their legs.

Red Bull looked good, however, after taking on the latest-spec Honda power unit, Max Verstappen will start tomorrow's race from the back of the grid.

With slipstreaming certain to play a large part in this afternoon's qualifying session, the teams are sure to practice this morning, and with an eye on this the FIA has announced that drivers exceeding the track limits in the Parabolica will have two laps times deleted.

And speaking of the Parabolica, following a horrific crash during this morning's F3 race involving Alex Peroni, the FIA has removed the sausage kerbs at the infamous final corner.

Indeed, as further checks are carried out, though the session will start on time the pit lane exit will not be opened until official clearance is given.

Four minutes into the session, the stewards announce that the pit exit will open at ten past.

Norris heads a queue of eager beavers at the end of the pitlane at 12:09, and shortly after he leads the pack out n to the track.

Norris, like Verstappen is Gasly is to start from the back of the grid after taking on a raft of new components.

"Firm use of the breaks," Hulkenberg is told.

The install laps done, the Mercedes pair head into the pits for a practice start and, no doubt, a practice tow.

Norris gets things underway with a 28.711, but this is soon beaten by a number of drivers, not least teammate Sainz who posts 21.986.

Five minutes in and all but the Ferrari pair are on track, the red cars yet to make an appearance.

All is peace and calm in the Ferrari garage, which suggests the Maranello outfit is feeling confident.

Bottas posts 25.155, while Hamilton goes third, behind Stroll, with a 24.754. The Mercedes pair, both on different compounds, appear to have gone straight into their race sims.

Sainz consolidates hit top spot with a 21.736, as Kvyat goes second (22.076) ahead of his Toro Rosso teammate.

"Tell him to speed up," says Kvyat, clearly not happy with the pace of his teammate who is towing the Russian into the Parabolica. Kvyat improves to 21.890 and Gasly 22.675.

Twenty-two minutes in and the Ferrari pair finally head out, both on the softs.

Vettel immediately goes quickest (20.611), just moments after Kvyat had improves with a 21.638. Leclerc goes second with a 21.010, 0.399s off his teammate's pace.

Hulkenberg goes fifth with a 21.834, ahead of Raikkonen, Grosjean, Gasly, Magnussen and Kubica... yes, Kubica... in a Williams.

Grosjean is the first driver to have his time(s) deleted for exceeding the track limits at the Parabolica.

Leclerc goes quickest with a 20.452, as the Red Bull pair remain the only drivers yet to post times.

"I've got **** loads of oversteer, mate," declares Grosjean.

Ricciardo goes third (21.409), as Magnussen has his times deleted for going with at the Parabolica.

Albon goes fourth (21.426), ahead of Giovinazzi and Hulkenberg.

Having posted 3 installation laps, Verstappen finally heads out, as teammate Albon has his time deleted... you know why.

Verstappen goes quickest in the first sector, as Perez goes third overall (21.358). Verstappen maintains a strong pace in S2, finally crossing the line at 20.859 to go third.

On fresh mediums, Hamilton goes third with a 20.758, just 0.306s off Leclerc's soft pace.

Elsewhere, slo-mo replay shows Bottas taking a pounding as he rides the kerbs.

"Several drivers have lost their laps times for going wide at Turn 11," Albon is told, "you've just lost another one." "What, again?" replies the Thai driver. "Yes," comes the weary reply.

On fresh mediums, Bottas improves to eighth (21.363). The Finn subsequently posts 20.766 to go fifth, just behind his teammate.

With 16 minutes remaining, the track falls silent as the drivers head to their garages to prepare for the final qualifying sims.

While an engine finally breaks the silence, it is the Ferrari V6 in the back of Leclerc's car. Teammate Vettel follows.

The cameras cut to the first chicane where Papa Vettel is watching from the grandstand.

As they begin their first lap, Leclerc is off the pace while Vettel posts a PB. Both post PBs in S2, and while Leclerc improves his time is deleted after running wide in the Parabolica. Vettel, courtesy of the tow, goes top with a 20.331.

On the back straight leading to the Parabolica there is a long line of cars queueing as the drivers seek a tow.

Bottas is told he is 4.5s behind the Haas pair, he needs to be within 3s in order to get the tow. The Finn has his teammate running right behind.

Vettel improves with a 20.294 as Hamilton posts 20.751 to go third, however, a 20.652 from Ricciardo demotes the world champion to fourth.

Verstappen goes second with a 20.326, as teammate Albon goes seventh, ahead of Sainz, Hulkenberg and Perez.

Giovinazzi improves to eighth (20.881), while Raikkonen is struggling to improve on 14th (21.325).

A 20.403 sees Bottas go third.

Going quickest in S1, Leclerc eventually posts exactly the same time as Bottas (20.43) to go fourth. Meanwhile, Hamilton gets it wrong at the first chicane.

Bottas is told he's losing out in Turns 5 and 7.

The session ends. Vettel is quickest, ahead of Verstappen, Bottas, Leclerc, Ricciardo, Hamilton, Hulkenberg, Albon, Giovinazzi and Kvyat.

Sainz is eleventh, ahead of Perez, Gasly, Norris, Raikkonen, Magnussen, Grosjean, Stroll, Russell and Kubica.

Though Verstappen, Gasly and Norris are feted to go to the back of the grid, all three are sure to be called on to assist their teammates in qualifying.

And with the top fourteen covered by less than a second, and Vettel, Bottas and Leclerc by just 0.1s we should be in for a thrilling session.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Monza, here.


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