MONZA, Italy (AP) — Championship leader Sebastian Vettel posted the fastest time in the third practice of the Italian Grand Prix ahead of qualifying later Saturday.
The Red Bull driver had been quickest in Friday's second practice run and this time clocked a time of 1 minute, 24.360 seconds to finish .283 quicker than Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso and .317 clear of Red Bull teammate Mark Webber. Lewis Hamilton was fourth fastest for Mercedes in dry and sunny conditions.
Alonso needs a strong qualifying session in order to pressure Vettel from the outset in Sunday's race.
Alonso has not qualified higher than third all season but will likely need to get on the front row on a Monza track regarded as the quickest in Formula One, and where five of the past six winners have started from pole position.
Although the Spaniard is second overall behind three-time defending champion Vettel, his team has basically given him two races — here and Singapore in two weeks' time — to close the gap before they abandon their hopes and start focusing on developing next year's car.
Monza is a massive race for Ferrari, anyway, and Alonso will want to do well in front of the thousands of flag-waving Italian fans.