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Lewis Hamilton remained quickest in Saturday’s final practice session at Monza. As Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo arrived, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa made the top four and sandwiched Paul di Resta’s Force India. Red Bull failed to make the first ten and Sebastian Vettel stopped on-track with an alternator problem.
Long before the track action began, it was an early start for Mercedes who were forced to break the curfew in order to repair Michael Schumacher’s DRS. Parts had been rushed in from Brackley overnight and the Anglo-German team readied the car for 11 o’clock. More trouble was to follow during the 90 minutes, as Schumacher suffered a KERS problem.
Hamilton was the first man this weekend to break through the 85-second barrier and posted his best lap of 1:24.578, edging out Alonso – recovering from various technical problems yesterday – by just one thousandth of a second. Di Resta and Force India confirmed the advantage of having a Mercedes engine on a circuit characterised by straights.
There are worried faces at Red Bull - and not just because Vettel stopped at the Roggia Chicane with two minutes to go. The German reported a flat battery and this was after team-mate Mark Webber had already been suffering from KERS gremlins. The Milton Keynes squad now has less than two hours to rectify its issues ahead of qualifying.
There were few incidents, with Lotus substitute Jérôme d’Ambrosio missing the first chicane and Narain Karthikeyan taking his HRT through the Ascari gravel trap, but Bruno Senna was seen furiously waving at both Charles Pic and Sergio Pérez. On the other hand, Nico Rosberg enjoyed a much calmer session and was able to complete a long run for Mercedes.
Heikki Kovalainen led the way for Caterham but most eyes are on Vitaly Petrov, who is celebrating his 28th birthday. The field was completed by Pedro de la Rosa.
As the Tifosi packs into Monza, both they and di Montezemolo will witness whether Alonso can take the fight to Mercedes power in this afternoon’s qualifying session.
Qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix begins at 2pm local time (BST +1) and can also be tracked via the interactive GPUpdate.net Live Report
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