Sebastian Vettel will head into qualifying as the man to beat after another dominant morning at Monza. The world champion was the class of the field from the moment he took to the track although Fernando Alonso gave the Tifosi some hope of a home pole position by taking second place.
Having opted against using the long wheelbase Lotus this morning, Kimi Raikkonen set a 1:25.514 to lead at the twenty minute mark but his time was put in perspective by Vettel who immediately pulled out a quarter of a second in his Red Bull. That was Sebastian’s first competitive lap and there was much more to come on lap two as the German became the first man to dip below 1:25.
Vettel’s inexorable progress was halted momentarily midway through the session as Paul Di Resta speared off at the Parabolica, burying his Force India into the tyre barrier and placing his participation in qualifying into some doubt. Force India will have had their hearts in their mouths moments later as Adrian Sutil spun at Ascari after hitting the inside kerb but fortunately for the team, Adrian was able to continue.
Once the circuit returned to green flag conditions, Vettel resumed his own personal time attack with a 1:24.736, followed soon afterwards by a 1:24.551, extending his lead to half a second over teammate Mark Webber who had lifted himself to the top of a tight pack behind the pacesetter.
Only the change to option tyres could threaten his superiority as Alonso jumped up to second with a 1:24.724 but Vettel was also finding time on the medium compound, lowering his benchmark time to a 1:24.360 by the end of the morning. A late flyer from Alonso brought him to within three tenths of Vettel while Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton completed a top four covered by 0.352s. The other Mercedes hit trouble though as Nico Rosberg’s W04 was found to have overheated, ending his session after just five laps.
Sergio Perez confirmed McLaren’s impressive pace with fifth overall ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Felipe Massa while Jenson Button slipped to eighth having sat fourth after the initial hard tyre runs. Pastor Maldonado lifted his Williams to a lofty ninth with Raikkonen tumbling to tenth, four places ahead of Romain Grosjean on a difficult morning for Lotus.