The Saturday FP3 session at the Italian GP came with an extra layer of spice, courtesy of the ATA—or Alternate Tyre Allocation—implemented for the weekend.
Instead of the usual rubber bounty, Pirelli scaled back, handing teams two fewer sets of tyres. Plus, squads now had the mandate to use all three compounds—soft, medium, and hard—during the qualifying rounds. This wasn’t just a “soft-tyre fest” folks; teams had to strategize about using the harder rubber options for Q1 and Q2 as well.
The tyre strategy divide was most evident between the front-runners and the middle-of-the-pack teams. The top dogs zeroed in on soft-tyre performance for Q3, while their mid-table counterparts had to sweat out Q1 and therefore opted for hard and medium tyres.
In the early phases of the session, McLaren’s Lando Norris was the top dog on softs, followed by Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz. However, Max Verstappen, the championship front-runner, quickly blasted past them with a 1m21.838s lap, setting the new standard. He later even improved it to 1m21.687s.
But then, Kevin Magnussen of Haas jumped to third place just before halfway, signaling that the Monza track was only getting faster. Among the hard tyre runners, Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso was the standout, clocking in just a second behind Verstappen.
Past the midpoint, Alex Albon made waves by climbing to second on medium tyres, proving Williams is not to be messed with in terms of low-drag performance. He later improved his time even on hard tyres.
As the session reached its last 15 minutes, Lewis Hamilton stole the spotlight with a 1m21.453s, but Verstappen quickly responded, setting a 1m20.998s lap time. Hamilton was heard muttering about the apparent time-space continuum where Verstappen finds these extra half-seconds. No news from Perez, though; the guy was stuck in the garage dealing with an oil leak.
But the day belonged to Ferrari’s Sainz, who cruised to the top with a blistering 1m20.912s lap time, sending the Italian fans into euphoria. Verstappen couldn’t best it and had to settle for second, just 0.086s adrift, with Hamilton completing the top three.
Charles Leclerc, who felt his Ferrari had improved since FP2, claimed fourth, ahead of Alonso and Mercedes’ George Russell. The Haas pair of Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg snagged seventh and eighth, while Alonso and a garage-confined Perez filled the top ten.
In his first action of the weekend, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll landed 11th. AlphaTauri’s stand-in Liam Lawson was 12th, followed by teammate Yuki Tsunoda. McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and Williams’ Logan Sargeant filled the subsequent slots.
Looking forward, some drivers had issues with traffic, and Alonso hinted at “bad surprises” in the qualifying session for those impeding him. Norris also had his share of close calls. But all in all, the session passed with minor hiccups, the most glaring of which was Piastri’s brief detour through the gravel.
F1 Italian GP – FP3 Quick Rundown
- Carlos Sainz, Ferrari: 23 laps, 1’20.912
- Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing: 23 laps, +0.086
- Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes: 23 laps, +0.541
- Charles Leclerc, Ferrari: 23 laps, +0.574
- Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin Racing: 24 laps, +0.799
- George Russell, Mercedes: 25 laps, +0.818
- Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team: 21 laps, +0.972
- Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team: 27 laps, +1.073
- Alex Albon, Williams: 18 laps, +1.142
- Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing: 16 laps, +1.280
…and the rest followed in a mix of mid and tail-end performances, leaving fans and teams eagerly awaiting the main event: The Qualifying!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Italian GP Final Practice
What made the final practice session of the Italian GP particularly interesting?
The final practice session at the Italian GP became more intriguing due to the implementation of the Alternate Tyre Allocation (ATA). This regulation required teams to use all three tyre compounds—soft, medium, and hard—during the qualifying stages, deviating from the typical focus on soft tyres.
Who took the lead in the FP3 session of the Italian GP?
Carlos Sainz of Ferrari secured the top spot in the FP3 session of the Italian GP, recording a blistering lap time of 1’20.912.
How did the championship leader, Max Verstappen, perform?
Max Verstappen, the championship front-runner, performed strongly, logging a time of 1m20.998s on soft tyres. However, he was unable to overtake Sainz and ended up in second place, just 0.086s behind.
What issues did Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez face?
Lewis Hamilton struggled to find the half-second he needed to surpass Verstappen’s time and ultimately landed in the third spot. Sergio Perez had a different kind of problem; he was confined to the garage due to an oil leak on his Red Bull car.
What role did tyre strategy play among the top teams?
The tyre strategy was most evident between the leading teams and the midfield squads. Top teams like Red Bull and Mercedes focused mainly on the soft-tyre pace for Q3. In contrast, the midfield teams were more cautious and considered using hard and medium tyres, especially to secure spots in Q1 and Q2.
Was there any incident or technical issue during the session?
The session was mostly incident-free, except for minor hiccups. Oscar Piastri had a brief detour through the gravel, and Sergio Perez was confined to the garage due to an oil leak. Also, some drivers reported being held up in traffic, foreshadowing possible challenges in the qualifying round.
Who were the surprise performers in the session?
Among the surprise performers were Kevin Magnussen, who climbed to third place before the halfway point, and Alex Albon, who showed strong performance on medium tyres. Fernando Alonso also impressed by clocking in just a second behind Verstappen on hard tyres.
How did Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll fare in the session?
Lance Stroll of Aston Martin ended up in 11th place. This was his first time on the track during the weekend, as a fuel system issue had prevented him from completing more than half a lap in FP2.
More about Italian GP Final Practice
- F1 Official Website: Italian GP Weekend Schedule
- Sky Sports: Detailed Analysis of F1 Italian GP Final Practice
- ESPN F1: Max Verstappen’s Season Performance
- Autoweek: Ferrari’s Return to Form in 2023 Season
- Motorsport.com: In-depth Look at Alternate Tyre Allocation in F1
- BBC Sport: Lewis Hamilton’s Struggles in the Italian GP Practices
- The Race: Sergio Perez’s 2023 Season Overview
- Formula1News: Tyre Strategies in F1 – A Detailed Guide
- Autosport: Aston Martin’s Troublesome Weekend at Italian GP
- Motor Racing Network: Rookie Performances in the Italian GP Final Practice